Perfectionists Do Not Play Nicely With Others: Expanding the Social Disconnection Model

  • Simon B. Sherry
  • Sean P. Mackinnon
  • Chantal M. Gautreau


Perfectionism represents a putative vulnerability factor for psychopathology. Integrative models are needed to bring greater clarity to researchers’ and to practitioners’ understanding of when and why perfectionism is related to psychopathology. The social disconnection model (SDM; Hewitt et al., Cognition and suicide: Theory, research, and therapy, pp. 215–235, 2006) is an integrative theoretical model clarifying why perfectionism generates psychopathology through negative social behaviors, cognitions, and outcomes. In the present chapter, we articulate an expanded SDM that addresses limitations of the original formulation of this model. The expanded SDM includes a role for perfectionistic strivings and other-oriented perfectionism, personality-dependent interpersonal problems, moderated mediation, and multifinality. We also present two case studies illustrating how the expanded SDM is applicable to two well-known perfectionists: Sylvia Plath and Steve Jobs. Building on Hewitt et al. (2006), the expanded SDM brings greater clarity to our understanding of interpersonally distressed perfectionists and their problems.


Social disconnection model Other-oriented perfectionism Social relationships Psychological distress Interpersonal stressors Dyadic conflict Multifinality Psychopathology 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon B. Sherry
    • 1
  • Sean P. Mackinnon
    • 1
  • Chantal M. Gautreau
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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