The pursuit of perfection, taken to extremes, can lead to OCD and depression – and the number of students reporting the problem has jumped by 33% since 1989

Tom Nicol thought he had a problem with sleep. He could never get enough. He took “a very disciplined, stripped approach” to his routine. He drank water only at premeditated times, ate according to schedule, avoided caffeine, exercised (but not close to bedtime) and shut down all screens at 9pm. Nicol, a PhD student, was recounting this long list of sleep settings to his student counsellor after yet another bad night, when she told him: “You have perfectionism.”

“I’m not good enough to have perfectionism,” Nicol replied.

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