Perfectionism and Mindfulness

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I printed this article out for review and I was so very, very excited. The title, Perfectionism and Mindfulness: Effectiveness of a Bibliotherapy Intervention, had all the key words that spoke to me: perfectionism, mindfulness, bibliotherapy. It seemed like a perfect storm of my studies. “This study examined the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based bibliotherapy intervention to reduce perfectionism and associated distress,” claimed the authors.

I’m afraid the article’s title is terribly misleading. It claims to use bibliotherapy. They advertised on social media and websites like Craigslist for people with perfectionism, specifically, crippling maladaptive perfectionism. After an initial online introduction, they gave the participants a self-help book about mindfulness to read (Present Perfect by Pavel Somov). Then they answered questions, did a survey. Supposedly the individuals felt better after this study.

Here is where I balk: Giving a self-help book to a group is not real bibliotherapy. There is a book involved, and a “therapeutic” process, but most definitions I have found of bibliotherapy does not qualify this particular study as using bibliotherapy. Also, the entire thing felt remarkably uninspired. It seemed genuinely phoned-in, even after they listed their percentages and provided data of what they did.

Perhaps I am being too harsh, in truth the article made me a little irritated. The overall feeling was one of a rushed, ineffectually researched job. Why would they use a self-help book when it has been proven in the UK that a self-help book turns people off from feeling better about themselves and only makes the participants focus on the negatives. (See article: Furness, R., & Casselden, B. (2012). An evaluation of a Books on Prescription theme in a UK public library authority. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 29(4). (333-337). doi:10.1111/hir.12000).

If the authors had instead chosen to focus on creating the feeling of mindfulness through books with a mindful tone, with a peaceful setting, with a plot which urges the readers to accept themselves for who they are, I think the results would have been exponentially greater.

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