Arthur P. Ciaramicoli, a clinical psychologist and instructor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, is the coauthor of The Power of Empathy. Achievement and prosperity are the dual symbols of getting ahead in America, and as goals they have spawned performance addiction whereby individuals believe that they must go faster, try harder, be more dedicated, and make more sacrifices. This syndrome makes it nearly impossible for people to enjoy their work or leisure. Dr. Ciaramicoli writes: "The unforgiving process of comparison is one of the classic expressions of performance addiction. It can apply to anything you do words, actions, thoughts, appearance. No matter how good you are, someone is better. No matter how attractive you are, someone is vastly more handsome or beautiful. You can strive but never arrive."
The self-voice of those enslaved to this syndrome is always a punitive and critical one. The demon of perfectionism makes everything into a gigantic effort that drains all one's energy. The author explores many different dimensions of performance addiction including the lure of glamour, the quest for glory , proving yourself in marriage and parenting, and struggling to achieve a balanced life.
Throughout this book, the author presents quizzes, writing assignments, and case histories that can help you treat this disorder. Here are a few of Dr. Ciaramicoli's antidotes: Try accepting that you are an imperfect human being and that there is no harm in seeing yourself as ordinary in some things and exceptional in others. Try measuring your self-worth by criteria other than performance. Throw out competition, and even such simple pleasures as exercising or sports suddenly are lighter and more joyful.