Perfectionism is bad for your health

Everyone knows the old adage that nobody’s perfect. But that doesn’t stop a lot of people from being perfectionists – a personality trait that Canadian researchers say can lead to multiple health problems, reported Canadian Press in a story picked up June 1 and 2 by major newspapers and broadcasters across Canada, including the Edmonton Journal, which ran it on the front page, the Toronto Sun, Windsor Star, London Free Press, and CFTR “680 News” in Toronto. Gordon Flett, a professor of psychology in York University’s Faculty of Arts, says perfectionists are under constant stress, making them prone to a host of emotional, physical and relationship problems, including depression, eating disorders, chronic pain syndrome, marital discord and even suicide. Flett, co-author of several studies on perfectionism, said perfectionists not only hold unrealistically high standards, but also judge themselves or others as always falling short.

Flett and fellow psychologist Paul Hewitt of the University of British Columbia, a long-term research collaborator, have developed a 45-item questionnaire to identify the three types of perfectionists. Called the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, it is the first personality test that focuses specifically on the trait from a multi-dimensional perspective, Flett said in an interview June 2. The scale was published this week by Toronto-based Multi-Health Systems Inc., which develops and delivers assessment and diagnostic products.

Death taxes: a fine part of the Robin Hood tradition

“One of the great mysteries of Canadian politics is how a few rich people (and their spokespersons) can convince other Canadians that taxing the wealthy would risk bringing our civilization to an untimely end,” wrote Neil Brooks, tax law and policy professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in a Globe and Mail opinion piece June 2. “Such fear-mongering was the predictable reaction to Jack Layton’s election promise last week that his New Democratic Party would enact a tax on big inheritances, a tax that wouldn’t touch the majority of Canadians. As the 19th-century American economist Edmund James noted, taxation is simply a recognition that society and the state are silent partners in the creation of individual prosperity. Anyone doubting this should, as James suggested, ‘compare the fortune accumulated by Cornelius Vanderbilt in America with what he might have accumulated had he been adopted when an infant by a family of Hottentots.’”

Allow Muslim sharia courts

“As an observant Canadian Jew I am bewildered and troubled by voices I have heard suggesting that limits be put on the religious freedom of Muslims in Canada,” wrote Martin Lockshin, director of York’s Centre for Jewish Studies, in a June 2 letter to the Globe and Mail. “We have read recently about how allegedly dangerous it is for Muslim sharia courts to have the status that Canadian law grants to any other arbitration panel, secular or religious. Canadian law allows two people who have a dispute either to turn to an official court of law or, if both parties agree, to turn to an arbitration panel. Civil courts have the power to force someone to appear; no one can be required to appear before an arbitration panel. Jewish religious courts have been functioning well in Canada for many years under the protection of laws that regulate arbitration. Very few Jews make use of them, but they do serve a crucial role for the most meticulously observant. Neither halakhah (Jewish law) nor sharia (Islamic law) is identical to Canadian secular law. But if Canadian law allows arbitration to be done by panels of people not trained in Canadian law, and if our country believes in freedom of religion, surely Muslim arbitration panels must be given every freedom granted to other arbitration panels.”

Osgoode grad chosen to revive struggling Fiat

Struggling automaker Fiat named York alumnus Sergio Marchionne, an Italian-Canadian who spent his teen years in Montreal and now lives in Switzerland, as its new chief executive yesterday, reported major newspapers across Canada June 2, picking up the story from Canadian Press, Associated Press and Bloomberg News. Marchionne, a 1983 graduate of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, has a reputation of being an aggressive executive and a turnaround expert, analysts said.

On air

  • Political scientist Robert Drummond, dean of York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed the Green Party as part of federal election coverage on Global TV’s “Global News” June 1.
  • Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and a specialist on constitutional law, Canadian federalism and administrative law, discussed the federal election campaign, on CKVR-TV’s “VR Land News” in Barrie June 1.
  • This is Bike Week and there are several events to mark the week, including free breakfast at York University, reported CBC Radio’s “Here and Now” in Toronto June 1.