Developing a theory of psychopathological perfectionism within a cognitive behavioural framework .

PhD Thesis

Baker, David. 2012. Developing a theory of psychopathological perfectionism within a cognitive behavioural framework . PhD Thesis
AuthorsBaker, David.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

Psychological perfectionism, from a clinical perspective, started to be a topic of interest for cognitive behavioural clinicians at the beginning of the 1950s. Whilst many studies have identified perfectionism as a pivotal motivator in different conditions of neurosis, the exact nature of its interactions remains unclear. In the research community there is still a debate as to whether there is such a thing as good perfectionism, and there remains no consensual theory of psychopathological perfectionism. Aims: The aim of the study was to investigate why the nature of the phenomena remains a contentious issue, and to develop a robust theory of psychopathological perfectionism, within a cognitive behavioural framework, which will find general acceptance. From the literature review this appears to be the first qualitative study to develop such a theory. Method: Substantive grounded theory was developed within a framework of methodical hermeneutics which, it is argued, is capable of generating formative theory. 20 volunteers who came forward in response to advertisements became participants in semi-structured interviews using a post classic qualitative methodology, from which emerging data became the basis of categories leading to the development of the theory, and functions of the phenomena. Results and Conclusions: The study sets out reasons why there remains an impasse amongst researchers and clinicians about the condition of psychopathological perfectionism. A parsimonious theory of pathological perfectionism has been developed, the constructs of which are just necessary and sufficient to describe the condition. The developed theory makes a contribution to theories proposed prior to 1990 and to contemporary research. However as with all theories it is necessarily provisional, so that its usefulness is in need of further research and development. Psychopathological perfectionism has only two constructs, namely a demand to achieve perfectionism in at least one idiosyncratic sphere, which is in response to a core schema of conditional worth. A number of symptoms or functions of psychopathological perfectionism have also been identified, and there are suggestions as to how the condition develops and is maintained to the detriment of the sufferer. The study synthesizes over fifty years of theory and research into the phenomena. The developed theory and its symptoms or functions have important implications for clinical interventions, training, and for further psychological and psychosocial research. These implications are discussed.

KeywordsPerfectionism; Clinical perfectionism; Psychopathological perfectionism; Rational emotive behaviour therapy; Cognitive behaviour therapy; Constraint composition theory; Abductive explanatory inferentialism; Grounded theory; Post classic grounded theory; Heuristcs; Uni and multi directional perfectionism scales; Conditional worth; Ideosyncratic tasks
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Web address (URL)hdl:10545/325046
File Access Level
File Access Level
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited21 Aug 2014, 14:21
Publication dates2012
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