The problem of overcontrol: Perfectionism, emotional inhibition, and personality disorders

Giancarlo Dimaggio, Angus Macbeth, Raffaele Popolo, Giampaolo Salvatore, Filippo Perrini, Aigli Raouna, Cemre Su Osam, Luisa Buonocore, Aldea Bandiera, Antonella Montano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Aims
Some individuals with Personality Disorders (PD), particularly of a non-Borderline type, present with difficulties relating to over-control of cognitions, emotion and behavior, perfectionistic traits, and impaired social interactions. The current study sought to evaluate the strength of association, and interactions of both emotional inhibition and perfectionism in PD's, after controlling for symptoms and interpersonal problems.

We recruited a sample of 578 treatment seeking outpatients. Diagnosis of PD was made with the SCID-II. Individual's completed measures of perfectionism (Frost-MPS), Emotional Inhibition (EIS), Depression (BDI-II), Anxiety (STAI-Y), Global symptoms (SCL-90-R), and interpersonal problems (IIP-32).

Perfectionism was related to interpersonal problems, to the majority of PD symptomatology and to PD severity via number of SCID-II criteria met. Emotional inhibition was linked to symptoms and interpersonal problems as well as with avoidant, dependent, depressive and paranoid PDs; and with overall PD Severity. Inhibition and perfectionism were correlated with each other. Both variables predicted PD above and beyond other variables assessed. Mediation modelling demonstrated that the effect of emotional inhibition on PD severity was fully mediated by perfectionism and interpersonal problems.

Psychological mechanisms of overcontrol are a maintaining factor in many PDs. Both perfectionism and emotional inhibition impact on a broad range of PDs and there is an urgent need for research into these processes, and to adapt psychological interventions to consider these factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-33
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Early online date20 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Mar 2018


  • personality disorders
  • perfectionism
  • emotional Inhibition
  • Personality Disorder
  • severity
  • Emotional Suppression
  • overcontrol


Dive into the research topics of 'The problem of overcontrol: Perfectionism, emotional inhibition, and personality disorders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this