“Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery” by Guercino (c.1621) at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (Accession No. DPG282) (PD)
Many abuse victims are tormented by perfectionism. This is the unrelenting pursuit of perfection. Perfection and perfectionism are not, however, the same. One is, in fact, antagonistic to the other.
Perfection as a Standard
Perfection has special significance for abuse victims. As children, abuse victims come under constant and unjustified criticism. Harsh criticism may be accompanied by still harsher punishments, penalties far beyond anything a loving parent or guardian might administer for a childish infraction.
With time, victims conclude that perfection alone would satisfy their tormentors. We strive to achieve that. In reality, no amount of effort could attain the impossibly high standards set for victims. But the effort is engrained in us, as is the self-criticism. So perfectionism begins.
The Need for Approval
As adults, abuse victims are frequently motivated…
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