The Perfection Trap: Embracing the Power of Good Enough

Scribner. Aug. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781982149536. $28. SELF-HELP
In his first book, London School of Economics psychology professor and TED talker Curran labels perfectionism as a “favorite flaw,” the trait that people mention in job interviews as a humble brag; however, he makes the compelling case that perfectionism is rarely positive or healthy. The trait is often accompanied by anxiety, low self-esteem, and even self-sabotage, and pursuit of perfection can lead to burnout and depression. This book explains the types and causes of perfectionism, along with the role of one’s culture in promoting it. It’s not until the fourth and last section of the book that solutions are discussed, including learning to face anxieties and practicing radical acceptance of imperfection. Sources are rigorously cited, and Curran, a self-described recovering perfectionist himself, sprinkles his text with personal anecdotes.
VERDICT Those interested in reading about the causes and effects of perfectionism will find plenty, but readers looking for a self-help guide or practical solutions should look at other books, like Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection.
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