Scratched: A Memoir of Perfectionism

Harper. Feb. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9780062410375. $28.99;. MEMOIR
Tallent (Mendocino Fire) is insightful on the challenges of living with perfectionism, a disorder related to meeting a personal standard that is often unattainable, particularly to an outside observer. The perfectionist mindset believes others expect them to be perfect and will be highly critical of them if they don’t meet these standards. Tallent had a great deal of success early in her career, publishing five books and placing several short stories in the New Yorker. She secured a teaching position at Stanford University’s prestigious creative writing program. Yet her perfectionist nature would prevent her from publishing anything else for more than 20 years. She describes perfectionism as set apart from other disorders by the “pleasurableness” in the self-abuse. Perfectionism also gave her something to fall back on when she felt lost, providing a toxic form of identity.
VERDICT  An original perspective on the perfectionist personality. Recommended for avid readers of memoirs.

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