Automatic Self Recriminations and Perfectionism

Automatic self recriminations place an important role in perfectionism. Persons with perfectionistic traits usually experience internal dialogues in the form of elf-condemnatory, self-blaming spiraling.

In a new article published on the Journal of Personality Assessment, we present a new measure to assess this kind of internal dialogue. The new Automatic Self-Recrimination Scale (ASRS) has been tested in clinical and nonclinical sample showing it is best understood as a multidimensional measure.

Our findings highlight that the measure is composed of one higher-order factor and four lower-order facets: Not Mattering, Self as Failure, Undeserving Self, and Loathsomeness. The overall scale and four subscales demonstrated acceptable internal consistency and test-retest reliability.

Moreover, we show how Automatic Self-Recrimination Scale significantly correlates with measures of perfectionism, self-criticism, and dysfunctional attitudes. In short, we confirm how automatic self recriminations and perfectionism are two intertwined experiences.

Indeed perfectionism involves self-recrimination and an overgeneralized sense of the self as blameworthy and responsible that distinguishes it from other related constructs. Automatic self-recriminations are a unique and important element not only for research purposes but also as a key emphasis for clinical interventions.

As I have discussed elsewhere, Compassion Focused Therapy may cultivate – for example – a more compassionate self by promoting a healthier dialogue between parts of the self and starts with a focus on self-criticism. That is, if the goal is to help people with perfectionistic traits, an intervention that helps them reduce self-recriminations and increase a self-compassionate attitude is probably an effective choice.

Moreover, it is noteworthy how self recriminations (and interventions targeting these processes) are not only related to perfectionism. We have shown how they are pivotal – for example – in traits such as schizotypal ones.

Paul L. Hewitt, Sabrina Ge, Martin M. Smith, Gordon L. Flett, Simone Cheli, Danielle S. Molnar, Ariel Ko, Samuel F. Mikail & Thalia Lang (2024) Automatic Self Recriminations: Development and Validation of a Measure of Self-Condemnatory Internal Dialogue, Journal of Personality Assessment, DOI: 10.1080/00223891.2024.2303429

Mindful Compassion for Perfectionism: A new RCT!

Mindful compassion for perfectionism

Last week I posted about Roz Shafran’s paper on perfectionism, now I’m again here talking about the same topic! Another interesting news, so I hope I won’t bore you! (the worldwide database of funded clinical studies) has reviewed and published today our protocol of the new randomized controlled trial (RCT) on Mindful Compassion for Perfectionism (MCP).

As Shafran suggested, there are only three interventions specifically tailored on perfectionistic traits: cognitive behavioral therapy for perfectionism (Shafran et al., 2023), dynamic relational therapy (Hewitt et al., 2019), and MCP (Cheli et al., 2022). MCP is a form of group psychotherapy that integrates the conceptualization model of dynamic relational therapy with experiential techniques informed by or directly derived from Compassion Focused Therapy (Gilbert et al., 2014). Veronica Cavalletti and I developed this integrative intervention with the scientific support of Paul Hewitt.

To date, some case series have confirmed the feasibility of the MCP. This new RCT is aimed at pilot-testing the effectiveness of the proposed intervention. The study is a waiting-list controlled trial. We are going to start recruiting by nex Monday and have the first group as soon as possible!

National Library of Medicine (U.S.). (2023, January- ). Mindful Compassion for Perfectionism (MCP). Identifier NCT00103181.

Effective treatments for perfectionism


Roz Shafran and colleagues just published an overview of existing effective treatments for perfectionism. They presented their own model and then discussed the existing alternatives.

I was very surprised and happy to see how our protocol was one of the three interventions specifically tailored on perfectionistic traits! In short, Shafran was summarizing evidence and roots of the model with strongest evidence: that is, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Perfectionism. This is a tailored form of CBT targeting maladpative beliefs and biases in those struggling with perfectionism. The second model reviewed was the Dynamic Relational Therapy developed by Paul Hewitt and colleagues. Hewitt suggests to consider perfectionism as a set of interpersonal styles comprising of spefici traits, interpersonal and intrapersonal components. Finally, Shafran presented our Mindful Compassion for Perfectionism that integrates the Dynamic Relational Therapy with Compassion Focused Therapy.

As I anticipated, our model is far from being considered evidence-based. We published two cases series (see pubblications) where reporting preliminary evidence for the feasibility of the model, and we are now outlining a randomized controlled trial to better understand its clinical utility. Cavalletti, Hewitt, Flett and I published a first paper introducing the group format and its rationale, and then a second cases series about.

I appreciated Shafran’s recognition, which confirms the importance of specific interventions for specific traits or psychopathological manifestations.

Shafran, R., Egan, S.J., & Wade, T.D: (2023). Coming of age: A reflection of the first 21 years of cognitive behaviour therapy for perfectionism, Behaviour Research and Therapy,

The link between narcissism and perfectionism

I am ready for the upcoming congress of the European Society for the Study of Personality Disoders (ESSPD) where I join a symposium chaired by Elsa Ronningstam (Harvard Medical School) on recent advances in narcissism.

My team and I just concluded a study on the interwined path of narcissism and perfectionism. In a sample of healthy young adults we explored over time wheter perfectionistic traits and strategies explained the relationship between narcissim and psychopathology.

We found that the higher the perfectionistic strategies the higher the psychopathology associated with narcissistic traits. But perfectionism did not predict variation of narcissism over time. We interpret these results through an evolutionary perspective. Those with prominent narcissistic traits are often triggered by a social rank motive. We hypothesize that perfectionistic strategies are the “tools” used to pursue or recover a desidered social rank. This would be consistent with a common fluctuation of mental states in narcissism and with weak or non significant mediating role of perfectionism in the relationship between past and present narcissism.