Personality and perfectionism in chronic fatigue syndrome: a closer look

Psychol Health. 2010 Apr;25(4):465-75. doi: 10.1080/08870440802403863.


Objective: To test the hypothesis that people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) would differ significantly from a healthy control group on measures of general personality and perfectionism, specifically on measures of neuroticism and unhealthy perfectionism.

Method: A total of 27 female CFS outpatients and 30 female healthy controls completed questionnaires, including the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised, the Multi-dimensional Perfectionism Scale and measures of anxiety and depression.

Results: The CFS group was significantly more fatigued, anxious and depressed than healthy controls. They scored significantly higher on neuroticism and unhealthy perfectionism. Healthy and unhealthy perfectionism were positively correlated in the CFS group, but not in the control group.

Conclusion: The present study confirms the link between neuroticism and fatigue and finds a link between unhealthy perfectionism and fatigue. A 'healthy trait', such as healthy perfectionism, when coupled with evaluative concerns is not necessarily healthy in a fatigued population. Researchers and clinicians should note the context in which apparently benign traits are expressed, and how they interact with other traits.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • London
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires