Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control

Author: Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeannette DeWyze

I'm finding this book cuts so close that I'm wincing my way through it. It's difficult for me to read - not because it drags or it's poorly written (it's not), but because I'm recognizing myself in ways that are not completely comfortable.

I bought this book because of the chapter on Demand Resistance, which I believe is the main reason I procrastinate. Demand resistance is a component of the obsessive personality style, as is perfectionism. Both cause procrastination.

I'll post more about this book as I get farther into it. I can only bear to read a few pages at a time.

My belated review of "Too Perfect"

Have you ever gone out and bought a full CD because of one track on the radio you loved?  And found that it was the only track on the CD you liked at all?

Ok, I bought "Too Perfect", and it was all about an interesting type of person, many of whom I number among my friends.  And some problems they have, that are fascinating, in a "watching the aftermath of an auto accident" kind of way.

But I'm not one of them.

The chapter on Demand Sensitivity and Demand Resistance were indeed all that, and I'm glad I have the book.  Because those chapters ABSOLUTELY apply to me, in every detail.  Those parts that apply only weakly to me, apply strongly to my wife, and vice versa.
And I've learned more about wanting and identity than I'd ever considered before.

But the rest of the book simply isn't relevant.  I may be a compulsive personality, but I'm not all that obsessive.  At least not in the sense Mallinger uses.

It's got me wondering if he might write a companion volume for people like me, with more on Demand Resistance and on what other traits might be related.  I wonder what he'd call us...

Thanks, Pro, for recommending this book to us.  I have found something nifty that I posted on another thread which I hope will be all that for some here!  (search for The Printable CEO)


Every year that goes by leaves me a little bit good at a few more things, and no closer to fulfilling my promise.   I hate birthdays.

Too Perfect - retrosteve

Your comments on Too Perfect are so interesting to me because my experience with the book is exactly the opposite of yours.  The demand resistance part didn't apply to me so much as the obsessive stuff.   Interesting . . .

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that's the stuff life is made of.  - Benjamin Franklin

to Journey

Journey, my next theory goes that procrastination may be a part of an obsessive personality (as Mallinger details) or also of another type (that I am), call it a compulsive type for want of a better word.

I definitely feel Demand Resistance and Demand Sensitivity, more than those around me.  And it's part of a lot of other weird personality and cognitive distortions that Mallinger doesn't describe, but someone else may.

Maybe we could, as part of this board, start collecting some of those and write a companion volume to "Too Perfect".  Or help Mallinger do so.

Every year that goes by leaves me a little bit good at a few more things, and no closer to fulfilling my promise.   I hate birthdays.

obsessive vs. compulsive

I'm definitely the obsessive type - ask my family how many times I check to make sure the door is locked before we can leave the house lol! 


Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that's the stuff life is made of.  - Benjamin Franklin

Too Perfect = Too Right!

This book is right on the money - I just read the part about obsessive people not being able to enjoy leisure time, feeling like they have to always be productive and that's so true for me. 

My husband gets up early on the weekends and works really hard getting his chores done early, then he can just watch tv, or play golf, or chat on the phone for the rest of the day and really enjoy it.  I've always wondered why I can't do that - I can only enjoy goofing off when it's time "stolen" from something else. 

This morning I slept late, laid around in bed drinking coffee and watching tv and tried to just relax and enjoy it instead of berating myself for not working.  Maybe I can be more productive during work time if I can allow myself some relaxation time.  

It's weird, it's like I'm not comfortable with unplanned time.  If I have nothing that NEEDs to be done, I don't know what to do with myself. 


Almost finished

I'm almost finished and have found this book to have a lot of helpful insights.  I'll reread it with an "action" intention next time instead of the "learning" one I've been using.

The only downside is I'd like to give a copy to pretty much every member of my extended family!!  But the whole demand-sensitivity/resistance...  Dang it.  :P 


too perfect

Ouch!  Sounds like I need to read this book.  I predict a Barnes & Noble stop on the way home. 


this book totally blew my mind

...but you knew that, if you read the comments I already posted. :)

Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

i saw that

Yes, I saw that it had hit you pretty hard.  It spoke to me similarly.  Very enlightening.

I've finished it now and have indeed started rereading--slower, with the intent of DOING more of what it says.  :)

too perfect

I ordered this book from over the weekend.  Should be here next week! 


too perfect

The book arrived tonight! 


OMG - too perfect

Well so far this guy has described my childhood perfectly - and I have about 85% of the character traits he listed - too bad I have overcome the "neat freak" part of my personality.



Me too!  I just retained my need to be right, my need for control, and my procrastination abilities..  ;)  :P

I'm glad it's been insightful so far...


oh no

i have not read the book but now I have to: the need to be right, the need for control, procrastination? egad, its me!

oh yes!

It's so close to the mark for me it's almost painful.  I can't wait to get back home tonight and read more.  I'm like:  'does this guy KNOW me?'


detailed TOC for "Too Perfect"

I thought I'd post a detailed Table of Contents for "Too Perfect" (with sections). This gives a good overview, and helps me to remember the contents.

  • Chapter 1: The Obsessive Personality
    • The Causes of Obsessiveness
    • The Core of Obsessiveness: The Need for Control
    • A Self Test
    • Interpreting Your Responses
  • Chapter 2: The Myth of Control
    • Self-Control
      • Thinking in Extremes
      • Control Over Feelings
        • Selectively Unemotional
        • The Downside of Emotional Control
    • Control Over Others
      • Control Through Irreproachability
      • Control Games
    • Control Over Life's Impersonal Events
      • The Cosmic Scorekeeper
    • Control Strategies Can Conflict
    • Failure of the Myth
      • Retroactive Control
      • When Even Retroactive Control Fails
  • Chapter 3: Too Perfect
    • Perfection and Control Overlap
    • Perfectionism Versus the Will to Excel
      • The Subjective Experience of Achievement
    • Performance Pitfalls
      • The Completion Complex
        • Physical Clutter
    • Not-So-Perfect Relationships
      • Social Inhibitions
      • Being Right - At All Costs
    • Pickiness
    • Rising Above Perfectionism
      • Perfectly Human
      • Overcoming the Fear of Embarrassment
      • Confronting Your Inner Saboteurs
      • Getting Your Work Done
      • Cutting the Clutter
      • Aim for Average
      • Overcoming Work or Study Blocks
      • Critiquing the Critic
    • Better Than Perfect
  • Chapter 4: Decision and Commitment
    • The Risk of Error
    • Avoiding Decisions
      • Living in One's Head
      • Escape Hatches
    • Avoiding Commitment
      • Tentativeness
    • Fear of Romantic Commitments
      • Who's Afraid of Romantic Commitments?
      • The Uncommitted Marriage
    • Overcoming Indecisiveness and the Fear of Commitment
      • Letting Go of the Fear
      • Self-Inflicted Pain
    • Making Decisions - A Commonsense Approach
      • On to Action
    • Making Romantic Commitments
    • Your Choice
  • Chapter 5: Demand-Sensitivity and Demand-Resistance
    • Demand-Sensitivity
      • Phantom Obligations
      • Wants Become Shoulds
      • The Price of Demand-Sensitivity
    • Demand-Resistance
    • Demands and Work Blocks
      • The Ruination of Work
      • The Ruination of Leisure
      • The Ruination of Relationships
    • Are You Demand-Resistant?
    • Overcoming Demand-Resistance
  • Chapter 6: Too Guarded
    • Guarded Against Intimacy
      • The Fear of Being Found Out
      • Fear of Trusting
      • Fear of Dependency
    • Keeping a Distance
      • The Many Styles of Emotional Reserve
        • Secretiveness
      • The Need to Stand Alone
        • Suspiciousness
    • Guarded with Money
    • Guarded Against Spontaneity
    • When the Guards Come Down
    • Becoming Less Guarded
  • Chapter 7: The Thinkaholic: Worry, Rumination, and Doubt
    • The Obsessive Cognitive Style
      • Underlying the Cognitive Style
    • The Wasteland of Worry
    • Rumination: A Bitter Aftertaste
    • Preoccupation and Doubt
    • The Lure of Worry and Rumination
    • The Costs of Worry and Rumination
    • Abolishing Worry - A Practical Method
  • Chapter 8: Orderliness and Rigidity
    • Neat Freaks
    • Doing Everything "In Order"
    • Too Rigid
      • Caught in a Rut
      • A Slave to "the Rules"
    • Mental Orderliness and Rigidity
    • Toward a More Flexible Orderliness
  • Chapter 9: Too Driven
    • The Obsessive Workaholic
    • The Classic Workaholic
      • When the Workaholic Can't Work
      • Workaholics and Denial
    • The Hidden Workaholic
    • The Driving Forces
      • The Pressure of Perfectionism
      • The Angst of All-or-Nothing
      • Work as Protection
      • The Drive of Demand-Sensitivity, Thinkaholism, and Orderliness
      • Work as a Means of Control
    • Are You Too Driven?
    • The Joy of Work
    • The Costs of Workaholism
      • The Poisoning of Personal Relationships
        • Shortchanged Children
        • Workaholism and Your Mate
        • Forgotten Friendships
      • Work and Counterproductivity
      • Chronic Leisure-Deprivation
    • Becoming Less Driven
      • A Two-Month Leisure-Reclamation Program
  • Chapter 10: Living with the Obsessive
    • 1. Don't Take Their Foibles Personally
    • 2. Recognize that They May Be Taking Your Quirks Personally
    • 3. Be Consistent and Trustworthy
    • 4. Don't Be Pressured into Disavowing Your Own Feelings and Preferences
    • 5. Don't Pressure the Obsessive
    • 6. Foster Your Own Self-Esteem and Independence
    • 7. Reinforce Positive Changes - But Do It Sensitively
  • Eplogue


Now I have to order it, too.


going to order that book

Perfectionsim and Demand Resistance

Pro wrote in reponse to one of my self-tattling posts: 'Demand Resistance is often to yourself. Mallinger talks about this in his book. It comes from turning every "want" into a "should" (because you don't want to be so selfish as to want anything).' Wow. That's it! I don't believe, deep down, that I should have any needs or wants. Having needs or wants makes one very, very vulnerable, because those needs and wants can be denied or taken away, which is terribly frightening (though, in my case at the moment, the fear that I can imagine feels like archaic fear--fear that would be appropriate to a small child). It also makes one vulnerable because others might perceive you as weak or undesirable because of those needs, or foolish and not to be taken seriously because of one's wishes. Obviously, I must have gone through all this as a child or it wouldn't resonate so deeply with me (I did). Even worse, for me, than not getting my needs met/having what I need taken away or than being perceived as silly and inconsequential, was the intense RAGE I felt at being treated this way. As a child it made me feel utterly unglued to have such intense anger, and worse to not be allowed to express it--and infuriating to be even more in trouble (ridiculed and rejected, and spanked if I persisted) for objecting to being stifled. And if I cried in frustration and outrage, then my father would say, "I'll ~give~ you something to cry about!" Anyhow, this is relics of the past and all, but it strikes me that I am still operating out of the notion that I must not ever admit to any needs or wishes. Not to myself, and certainly not to anyone else. Perfectionsim creeps in to cover what's going on underneath- either to cover it up to outsiders or to make up for it on the inside. I "should" and "ought" myself continuously--and then I balk and rebel against myself! Grr!

it's more than that

It's not just the codependency element. Mallinger has an earth shattering insight about this (for me, anyway). He points out that when you don't know what you want, you don't know who you are. And when you don't know who you are, you are easily overrun and it is THIS that causes demand resistance. You resist demands - even demands that are only in your mind or self-imposed - in an attempt to "be", assert your existance and power. People like us have so little sense of self that we feel at risk of disappearing if we concede to demands. The solution is to develop your sense of self by constantly - all throughout the day - asking yourself what YOU WANT in that moment.

I've started doing this, and it's really helping me.

Okay this is scary close

My first post.

Thanks, Pro, for bringing this book to our attention and for this excerpt.  Wow that is very close to me.  And I've never thought of it as being a missing sense of self, but I can certainly see that I never know what I want.

And the perverse sense of empowerment that comes with resisting demands, even my own, is absolutely there.   So I will accept this insight for now, and see how I do with A.M.'s solution until the book arrives!

Thanks so much for running this board and bringing out this possibility for more of us.

Every year that goes by leaves me a little bit good at a few more things, and no closer to fulfilling my promise.   I hate birthdays.

Too Perfect and welcome to RetroSteve

I'm reading this book now.  Actually I had to stop reading it for a while because it was just too intense!  I'm digesting it a chapter at a time.  It's very enlightening. 


the shock of recognition

I found this book scary close, too - very scary close.

You are welcome for the board. I'm so glad that others find this board helpful, because others being here helps me, too.

Your tag line is... well, kind of sad! Maybe now you will start to move closer to fulfilling your promise.

Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

This is resonating, Pro. Thank you!

"when you don't know what you want, you don't know who you are. And when you don't know who you are, you are easily overrun and it is THIS that causes demand resistance. You resist demands - even demands that are only in your mind or self-imposed - in an attempt to "be", assert your existance and power."


"The solution is to develop your sense of self by constantly - all throughout the day - asking yourself what YOU WANT in that moment."

OK. Let's do it.

This strikes a cord

I don't know what I really want most of the time :(

Double bind

This is true: "we feel at risk of disappearing if we concede to demands." And since it's equally true for me that I feel I will cease to exist (get the boot) if I assert myself, then what a dilemma! The only solution is to procrastinate, to linger in limbo. And that, sadly, is simply another way of disappearing.


There is a solution, slider, you're just not seeing it. Another thing Mallinger says is that obsessives are big on denial - insisting there's no solution when there is one.

Well, Natch!

That is, after all, why we're here! I just meant that it often ~appears~ that way because I get stuck in a stinkin' thinkin' rut. Getting more conscious is always a goal, and once conscious, then any number of options may be discernable.

And do you know?

In moments of despair I can't even answer that question. When I'm feeling frivolous, I come up with flippant answers. Hmm--at least the flip ones are responses. They don't hurt anything.

I often can't answer it, either

I often can't answer it, either, and that's the problem. We don't know what we want; we don't have a strong sense of self. But when you keep asking yourself what you want, you slowly get back in touch with it, and then the demand resistance starts to ease. I'm experiencing it!

That's encouraging!

It's good to see other people's experiences and learn how things work. Thanks.

essense of "Too Perfect"

This book describes and suggests some solutions for the obsessive personality type. This is distinct from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. He's not talking about people with OCD, but rather people who have this personality type.

The core of it is a desire for control to ensure safe passage through life. The need for control can manifest in three areas:

1. Self-control.
2. Control over others.
3. Control over Life's Impersonal Events (fantasy of the "Cosmic Scorekeeper").

All the problems associated with the obsessive-compulsive personality type arise from one of these three areas of trying to assert control. The ramifications are numerous, and the author describes each in turn. For me it's like looking in a mirror - it's bizarre. The table of contents serves as an overview:

  • The Myth of Control
  • Too Perfect
  • Decision and Commitment
  • Demand-Sensitivity and Demand-Resistance
  • Too Guarded
  • The Thinkaholic: Worry, Rumination, and Doubt
  • Orderliness and Rigidity
  • Too Driven

This book is well worth reading. Procrastination is a common manifestation of this personality type, so many people here probably will share my identification with it. I'm finding the book very helpful - a little disturbing, but very helpful. It's explaining all kinds of problems in my life that I didn't realize were part of the same core personality style. It also very closely describes my most recent ex-partner.

Disturbing book

It seems to have been creating a shake-up. Maybe Slider was right, and that your recent feelings of being very down are a precursor to some insights about yourself. It's happened to me in the past and although it was extremely unpleasant (to say the least) at the time, in the end it was worth it.

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soul searching

I certainly am doing a lot of soul searching lately.

There's a saying that people change when the pain of doing what they've been doing becomes greater than the pain of changing. That's about where I am now!


I wholeheartedly agree with that one!

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my reading is slowing up

I think this book was disturbing to me because I've stopped reading it. I'm going to try to get back to it. I haven't read the chapter on demand resistance yet because I want to read the book from front to back rather than jump around (perfectionism again, I guess!).