I am currently going to college and have had this problem ever since I can remember. I will sit to take notes or write a letter and will put the pen or pencil to the page and if it doesn’t look right I will rip it or throw it away. It has been so bad that I have stopped taking notes or writing unless I can type it. I have literally ripped up 10 to 20 sheets of paper before it’s perfect.I don’t know what the deal is and need some guidance, thanks.

A: I’d need to know more in order to get it right but this sounds to me like some form of obsessive-compulsive disorder or phobia. I don’t think it’s perfectionism. You seem to feel out of control of it. My guess is that there is something about committing words to paper that makes you anxious. The many starts may be a way to contain the anxiety.

At this point, the behavior is taking too much time and is getting in your way at school so it’s no longer just a harmless habit. I therefor suggest you go to your school mental health services for a session or two. A counselor can make a more complete assessment and suggest options for managing it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Sep 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). If a note doesn’t look right, I have to rip it up. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/09/19/if-a-note-doesnt-look-right-i-have-to-rip-it-up/

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