Greater self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism in severe alcohol use disorder

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2022 Jul;46(7):1340-1347. doi: 10.1111/acer.14878. Epub 2022 Aug 1.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism*
  • Humans
  • Perfectionism*
  • Self Concept