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Perfectionism: The Death of Progress

Andrew Mason

Andrew Mason

Published Jan 14th, 2020


Perfectionism is a self-destructive, obsessive belief system summarized by the following mantra: if I do everything perfectly, I can avoid painful feelings of imperfection. Perfectionists set high expectations for themselves, and often react poorly when they fail to live up to them. Perfectionists are typically stuck in a cycle where each new task is another opportunity for perceived failure; quickly leading to the development of mental health issues. Perfectionism can lead to a variety of dangerous mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and stress; but it can be managed.



  • What is perfectionism
  • Dangers of perfectionism
  • Overcoming perfectionism

Desired Outcomes

  • Those suffering from perfectionism will gain some new tools to combat this disorder, and others will be made more aware of the signs associated with the disorder and be able to better work with coworkers or peers that suffer from this.

Intended audience

  • Developers of all ages who struggle with perfectionism
  • Those who know someone struggling with perfectionism


It is difficult to justify what makes you qualified to speak about a mental health issue, due to its complex and sensitive nature; however, I feel that personal experience is what qualifies me to speak about this topic. As someone with a very type A driven personality, I struggle with perfectionism on a daily basis. I will never forget working on a static website that took me over a year after constant changes to the stack and UI design. Since this project, which ended up getting shut down, I have learned to be aware of my perfectionist tendencies, largely as a result of this project. I ended up getting professional help last spring because of my perfectionism, and the associated mental health issues that arose as a result, because my mental health became so bad that I was ready to shut down my overactive brain at any cost. My hope is that everyone who hears this talk will have a different perspective about perfectionism, whether they personally struggle with perfectionism, or know someone who is. It is my hope that this talk will inspire those coping with perfectionism to find ways to improve their quality of life, or at least be inspired by knowing that there are options out there.

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