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“More perfect”: Towards a phenomenology of perfectionism

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
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This phenomenological study explored the lived meaning of perfectionism through interviews with nine first year law students who self-identified as perfectionists, with a view to uncovering new therapeutic possibilities for counsellors working with perfectionist clients. The fundamental existentialist themes of lived time, lived human relation, lived space, and lived body were used as a guide to interpreting the interview transcripts. Findings indicated that perfectionist temporality is characterized by inadequacy, limits, speed, delays, and loss; relationality by the engagement in self -comparison, -evaluation, and -management, and other -comparison and -judgment; spatiality by high expectations and ordering; and corporeality by feelings of anxiety, panic, and fear, self-critical and dichotomous thinking, and physiological discomfort. Constructivist conceptualization and treatment for perfectionist clients is recommended.
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