Background: Perfectionistic individuals present exaggerated performance standards, generating a constant search for flawlessness and a high tendency to self-criticize. Dominant models distinguish three dimensions of perfectionism: namely, self-oriented, socially prescribed and other-oriented. Perfectionism constitutes a vulnerability factor for psychopathological disorders, but its role in severe alcohol use disorder (SAUD) remains unexplored.
Methods: Sixty-five recently detoxified patients with SAUD and 65 matched controls completed a perfectionism questionnaire (the Hewitt Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale), together with measures of psychopathology.
Results: SAUD was associated with greater self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism, with no group differences on other-oriented perfectionism. This differential pattern persisted when controlling for depression and anxiety levels, and there was no correlation with alcohol consumption.
Conclusion: This specific perfectionistic profile is consistent with those of previous studies showing lower self-evaluation (e.g., higher self-blame and reduced self-esteem) and impaired social cognition (e.g., unrealistic social standards and greater social isolation) in SAUD. In view of its potential role in the development and maintenance of SAUD, perfectionism may constitute a valuable treatment target in patients with this disorder.
Keywords: alcohol dependence; other-oriented perfectionism; self-oriented perfectionism; social cognition; socially prescribed perfectionism.
© 2022 by the Research Society on Alcoholism.