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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
203 pages
Apr 2005
InterVarsity Press

Perfecting Ourselves To Death

by Richard Winter

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


The heights of achievement and success, or untold suffering and misery, which direction does your perfectionism lead? Psychiatrist and professor, Richard Winter has worked with many degrees of perfectionism, from fear of failure and suppressed emotions to severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. In Perfecting Ourselves to Death, the reader receives the benefit of all this research and intimately gained perspectives. Divided into four sections, this volume acutely delves into its subject. The first section defines perfectionism in its myriad forms, many of them destructive, and its seductive roots in modern life. The second section clinically describes the problems arrising from unhealthy perfectionism, problems such as depression, worry, obsessions, anger, and eating disorders. It includes a very illuminating chapter on the thought patterns of perfectionism. The third section considers causes of unhealthy perfectionism, genetic predispositions, culture, shame, pride, philosophy, family. Throughout these sections the reader gains some insight into Winter's take on God. In the fourth section he delves into strategy and relearning, into how to live with our human imperfection. And, in this section his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ's salvation and liberation becomes very apparent. All subjects are liberally illustrated with personal, anecdotal experiences. Written in discussion format, presenting valuable, professional information in laymen's terms, Perfecting Ourselves to Death is a complete text in itself, while also preparing the reader for further study on this subject. Some interesting extra insights include: a brief explanation of modernism and post-modernism and how they affect us; discussion questions at the end of each chapter; some evidences of personality problems in historical Christians and how the Lord handled these problems; comparison of differences between Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity in relation to perfection.

Having already challenged modern Christians with Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment, Richard Winter now takes on the contemporary drive for destructive perfection. Perfecting Ourselves to Death, caught my interest and cleared some of my more muddled thought areas. Pastors, teachers, parents, managers, and you and I will find this book one worth adding to our reference shelves. In encouraging the reader to hand everything, including destructive drives for perfection, over to the Lord, Winter quotes from the apostle Paul. They are good words with which to close, "Not that I have already...been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" (Phil. 3:12). -- Donna Eggett, Christian Book

Book Jacket:

Perfect body. Perfect clothes. Perfect family. Perfect house. Perfect job.

We strive for excellence in all areas of our lives. And there's nothing wrong with a healthy, mature pursuit of excellence. But what begins as healthy and normal can sometimes become neurotic and abnormal, leading to debilitating thoughts and behaviors:

- eating disorders

- anxiety and depression

- obsession and compulsions

- fear of failure

- relational dysfunction

In Perfecting Ourselves to Death, Richard Winter explores the positive and negative effects of perfectionism on our lives. He looks at the seductive nature of perfectionism as it is reflected in today's media. He examines the price and perils of perfectionism. And he explores the roots of perfectionism, delving into what originally awakens this drive in us. After analyzing the negative feelings and defeatist behaviors that unhealthy perfectionism births, he provides practical strategies for how to change.

"The important thing to see," writes Winter, "is that we are to strive to become better people, not just to be content with who we are or how we measure up to the standards of the culture around us." For Christians this means becoming more like Christ in every area of our lives.

Here is the "perfect" book for those who struggles with perfectionism and for those pastors, counselors and friends who want to understand and help perfectionists.