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Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control Paperback – June 1, 1993
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From the Inside Flap
For many of us, perfectionism can bring life's most desired rewards. But when the obsessive need for perfection and control gets in the way of our professional and emotional lives, the cost becomes too high. Although many of us appear cool and confident on the outside, inside we are in emotional turmoil, trying to satisfy everyone, attempting to direct the future, and feeling that we are failing.
In TOO PERFECT, Dr. Allan Mallinger draws on twenty years of research and observations from his private practice to show how perfectionism can sap energy, complicate even the simplest decisions, and take the enjoyment out of life. For workaholics or neat freaks, for anyone who fears change or making mistakes, needs rigid rules, is excessively frugal or obstinate, TOO PERFECT offers revealing self-tests, fascinating case histories, and practical strategies to help us overcome obsessiveness and reclaim our right to happiness.
About the Author
Jeannette Dewyze is a freelance journalist. She was a staff writer for the San Diego Reader for 30 years. She cowrote Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control with Allan Mallinger, M.D.
Allan Mallinger is a practicing psychiatrist in San Diego, California, and the coauthor of Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control.
Top customer reviews
I decided to pick up this book as a reader simply interested about the theory of "being in control", as opposed to someone concerned about my own or another's behavior. After reading the Amazon summary, I expected to hear many case studies and insightful information pertaining to perfectionism, as well as a biological basis for the research Dr. Allan Mallinger conducted during his practice. The former held very true, the latter - not so much.
Dr. Mallinger mentions at the beginning of the book that the purpose of his work is not solely to determine whether a patient has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) but if said patient displays an overall destructive behavior as a result of needing to be in control of their life. While Mallinger does a great job of providing various cases that have different implications about the patients' behaviors, his evaluations are not particularly revealing, and are what most readers would more than likely expect to be determined. I was somewhat disappointed that Mallinger and Jeannette Dewyze did not collaborate with the scientific research community to compound their psychological evaluations with a sound biological foundation, which may have provided profound implications for future research in both fields. Providing neurological research would also attract more readers. Another aspect I didn't approve of is Mallinger claiming many of the things he says as fact. Although most of the passages are not controversial, I found fault with Mallinger's tendency to claim a portion of his assessments as the absolute truth. From a scientist's perspective, old theories and assumptions are overturned when new evidence is revealed. While these perfectionism traits usually result in a certain mindset and lifestyle, there are always exceptions to the rule, and for various different reasons. On a positive note, the case studies were very intriguing and relatable to people we perceive as "normal". Mallinger states, "the obsessive personality style is a system of many normal traits, all aiming toward a common goal: safety and security via alertness, reason, and mastery". It turns out many of us show some obsessive traits, so it is imperative that we are aware of these traits and address them while they are still mild and under our conscious control.
The chapters were divided into categories based on the different types of obsessive conditions (e.g. Being in control, Perfectionism, Guardedness). In each chapter, Dr. Mallinger provides many differentiated cases about his patients. He does a great job on providing detail about the patients' behavioral issues as well as the background of these patients to determine why these problems may have developed. While seemingly all topics and subtopics were covered in-depth, I felt as though each chapter covered some of the same issues in a slightly different manner. If you are searching specifically for more information about an obsessive personality trait and want to know if these may cross over into different issues, then you will not mind; however, for the general reader the information becomes redundant.
Throughout most of the book Dr. Mallinger provides examples of these obsessive personality qualities through various walks of life. Majority of the book sought to diagnose those who may be suffering from obsessive tendencies and to provide numerous case studies about those who endure the same issues on a day-to-day basis. The result is a wealth of information about recognizing whether or not you are suffering from these behaviors. The book also provides a general overview of methods to subdue and treat these symptoms. Although some very specific examples were included, the book is in no way meant to be a "treat all" solutions manual (Mallinger mentions this as well in the epilogue). I thought the last chapter in the book, "Living with the Obsessive", was a great topic to include in a book that primarily wanted to help those suffering with these conditions. This chapter provides some insight for those who are affected by others with the obsessive issues and how to deal with them. It is important to be aware that many are affected by these problems.
Overall the book was an interesting read but is definitely geared towards a specific audience. I would highly recommend this book to anyone feeling they may have the typical attributes of a perfectionist and/or someone needing to be in control, and believe these feelings may potentially hurt their mindset or personal relationships. The other reviewers who felt this was the case would more than likely recommend this book as well. Dr. Mallinger provides many cases about people with these characteristics, so absorbing the detail about these studies may prove to be beneficial. Be wary of the difference between striving to become more efficient and striving to obtain perfection and complete control. For those with more serious concerns, I would suggest finding a book that attempts to research the best resolutions to these personality types if professional assistance is not an option. I would not recommend this book to those searching for in-depth, scientific research delving into the biological basis for these types of behaviors as this is based on Dr. Mallinger's perception through numerous years of psychological research.
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