Yet several recent studies stand as a warning against taking the platitudes of achievement too seriously. The new research focuses on a familiar type, perfectionists, who panic or blow a fuse when things don't turn out just so. The findings not only confirm that such purists are often at risk for mental distress -- as Freud, Alfred Adler and countless exasperated parents have long predicted -- but also suggest that perfectionism is a valuable lens through which to understand a variety of seemingly unrelated mental difficulties, from depression to compulsive behavior to addiction.
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