How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

I’m a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Medical Center in New York City.

People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder do not necessarily have the more commonly discussed obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), although many individuals think the two conditions are the same. Those with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) generally have an inflexible pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving, whereas those with obsessive-compulsive disorder have obsessions (recurrent, persistent thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors).

Sound confusing? Michael’s story is fairly typical of OCPD. By 25, Michael had established his career as a dancer in a modern troupe. He diligently practiced dancing every evening without missing a night. By day he worked as a waiter in a café. His co-workers knew he was finicky and they often teased him about not being able to touch leftovers on customers’ plates. Sometimes Michael would even pick up used dishes with napkins, fearing that he would be contaminated otherwise.

He had many feather pillows around his apartment. Standard ones lined his bed, designer ones were in the living room on his couch, and a big red one was on a mat that he used to work out. After a hard day at the restaurant and stressful night of practice he’d come home, stretch out somewhere, and happily grab a pillow to put under his head. His hands would keep moving over the pillow until he found feathers to crack.

Michael had the opportunity to become a lead dancer in a show that his troupe was putting on in the fall. He doubled his practice time, reduced his hours at the restaurant and tried to lose even more weight. He was already quite fit, but he knew that the artistic director of the troupe liked his male dancers to look almost anorexic. Everyone told him to take it easy, complaining that he looked too gaunt and seemed to be straining himself. Michael ignored them. He slept only four hours a night to squeeze in more practice time and ate even less. He began to realize that something was, in fact, wrong when he found himself compelled to align the pillows perfectly on his bed and couch before he could fall asleep. Then he found it necessary to balance all his pillows.

He explained his problems to his weekly psychotherapy group, which he had considered eliminating to save time. The other group members asked him if snapping the feathers and balancing his pillows gave him a sexual sensation. Michael said no. He told them that he’d been cracking feathers since childhood, but the balancing compulsion was new. They were sympathetic and tried to offer suggestions to help. Afterward, the social worker who led the group took Michael aside and recommended a psychiatrist. When Michael consulted the doctor, he was given a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

The doctor was able to identify Michael’s problem primarily because he recognized the following eight traits, which are often evident to friends and family who live with someone with OCPD.

1. A preoccupation with details, rules, and schedules to the point in which any joy in the activity is lost. If two pillows were on one side of Michael’s couch, then two would have to be on the other side. He couldn’t rest if he didn’t do this. In addition, he would sit for more than an hour and crack the feathers in his pillows, whereas earlier in his (arguably less stressful) life, he’d only spent a few minutes. The time wasted on this compulsion angered and distressed him, but he found he couldn’t stop.

2. A sense of perfectionism that interferes with getting tasks accomplished. In Michael’s case, he wanted to put gloves on when he worked as a waiter, but he knew he would be mocked by other employees if he did that. Many times he took twice as long as the other waiters to clear tables, but he wouldn’t let anyone help him.

3. Friends and family members play a second or tertiary role in life. A patient of mine called Emily was so involved in her fledgling photography career that her family and friendships were not considered important. Like Michael, if friends or family members wanted to visit or suggested going out, she would put them off — to the extent that she became reclusive. As a result, people with OCPD typically have few friends and their family often disregards them.

4. Excessive rigidity and stubbornness. If the director told Michael to stretch his leg in a certain way, Michael would do it exactly as he was told, even if it was painful or inappropriate for the dance.

5. Over-conscientiousness and inflexibility about his or her values. Emily, the patient mentioned above, would attend church every Sunday and expect everyone else to do the same, whether or not it was part of their belief system.

6. He or she resembles a hoarder. In Michael’s case, since he had trouble throwing anything out, some of his pillows dated back to his childhood

7. The person often can’t let others work for him or her because they often don’t meet his or her standards. Even though they needed help in their respective jobs, both Michael and Emily couldn’t let others work for them because they didn’t meet their exacting — and often unrealistic — standards.

8. An unhealthy use of money — often excessively hoarding money or being miserly. Michael had packets of money stashed around his apartment that he never used even when he needed it.

When Michael was compelled to pick on the feathers of his pillow for an hour, he was bordering on having obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, with the psychiatrist’s help and group therapy, Michael was able to limit his feather-picking and eventually become more social and less rigid in his thinking and behavior. People with OCD are usually not able to stop themselves so easily from their compulsions or obsessions without medications or extensive behavioral therapy, which is another clue to their difference.

If someone you know or love displays traits such as those that Michael or Emily did, then please encourage them to get help either with individual psychotherapy or group therapy. It will make all the difference in the world to that person and everyone around him.

Disorder of Openness: Authoritarian Personality Disorder aka OCPD

THE BASICS

  • What Is Personality?
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Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is not Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – light. It is a qualitatively and categorically different syndrome. It is a personality disorder (PD). It is often overlooked by clinicians and researchers alike. However, OCPD is a very recognizable, and familiar type of character.

Narrative Description of Prototypical OCPD

The OCPD type of person is very systematic. They carefully plan everything down to the smallest detail. They often get lost in the details and forget their overall purpose. However, they are constantly scheduling tasks, events, etc, and organizing their environment. Individuals with OCPD are very rule-bound and are drawn to routine.

They are rigid in their experiences and character. Individuals with OCPD also are antagonistic.

Individuals with OCPD experience distress or have difficulty completing tasks because of their need to prepare, for example cleaning or organizing before starting the task. Individuals with OCPD will show impairment in functioning, for example being late or missing a deadline because of time spent prepping.

These individuals have a proclivity for hoarding their belongings even when no sentimental value is attached. They are penny-pinchers and could be described as miserly. Personality traits include perfectionism, rigidity, and orderliness. Interpersonally, individuals with OCPD can come off as stiff, controlling, or domineering.

How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

General Criteria for the Diagnosis of Personality Disorders

In order to diagnose OCPD, the general criteria for personality disorders must be met. These criteria include the specific OCPD pattern as displayed in the table here. The OCPD pattern is present when at least four of nine symptoms are present. Furthermore, the pattern must be enduring (present for at least the past 5 years), rigid, as well as date back to at least adolescence and manifest itself in a variety of intrapersonal and interpersonal situations.

A longstanding PD pattern must lead to clinically significant subjective distress or deficits in social, occupational, and other areas of functioning. Lastly, the enduring pattern cannot be due to the effects of a drug or general medical condition nor can they be due to the presence of schizophrenia, mood disorder with psychotic features, or other psychotic disorders.

Diagnostic Criterion

How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

The DSM-IV provides a content definition for OCPD as follows: “an extensive pattern of preoccupation with perfectionism, orderliness, and interpersonal and mental control, at the cost of efficiency, flexibility, and openness.” The OCPD pattern is operationalized by the criterion/symptom list here. Theoretically, OCPD criteria should correspond to functioning in different domains: (a) cognition, (b) affectivity, (c) interpersonal functioning, and (d) impulse control.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Personality?
  • Find a therapist near me

As can be seen in the OCPD diagnostic criterion table, its symptoms include Orderliness, perfectionism, workaholism, excessive conscientiousness, hoarding behavior, resistance to delegating tasks because tasks need to be done in a specific way, miserly, and stubbornness. The presence of these symptoms can be assessed with explicit self-report screening questionnaires which can identify diagnoses for further evaluation. Following the screening, a structured interview should be conducted to diagnose personality disorders. Collaterall (peer, parent, etc.) reports are a valuable data source. An example of impairment in functioning due to a longstanding pattern of OCPD would be missing a deadline because an individual spent too much time organizing a binder or PowerPoint, unable to complete the actual project. Another example is being late due to following a preparation routine.

Conceptualizations of OCPD

OCPD can probably be traced back to one of Theophrastus’ “Characters” from antiquity. In modern history, Sigmund Freud provided the first formal conception of OCPD. Freud’s theory of psychosexual development posited a stage theory of emotional growth in children in which they pass through different phases, each with its unique conflict, including “the anal phase.” During the anal phase, the toddler is struggling to master toilet training which taps inner conflicts in connection to control and aggression. Freud theorized that adults can be stuck in a psychosexual stage. Therefore, there could exist an “anal character type.” Individuals with an “anal” character could be described as preoccupied with control: self-control and controlling others.

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They are focused on following rules, drawn to structure and order. Many of their behaviors are motivated by a fear of loss of control. OCPD was classified in the DSM-IV as an anxious personality disorder i.e., the central underlying affect and/or emotional experience of individuals with OCPD is anxiety. Their pattern of behavior functions to manage their excessive anxiety.

The Authoritarian Personality Type

OCPD traits are also shared by Allport and Adorno’s construct of the authoritarian personality, respectively. Authoritarians, like individuals with OCPD, display rigidity, concrete thinking, orderliness, and a preoccupation with routine as well as a need to follow rules. These individuals are generally emotionally cut-off, selfish, and antagonistic. Both authoritarianism and OCPD can be conceptualized as a disorder of the Five-Factor Model openness i.e., markedly low levels of openness characterize both authoritarian and OCPD types. Individuals in close relationships with individuals with OCPD/authoritarian traits may feel a loss of autonomy, sink into passivity and submission, as well as, experience what it feels like to be controlled.

Clinical Implications

Individuals with OCPD are often high achievers and may not present for psychotherapy. However, it happens. Psychodynamic therapy or Cognitive therapy has been recommended in the literature to help people with OCPD increase their flexibility and openness.

Pfohl B, Blum N, Zimmerman M. Structured interview for DSM-IV personality (SIDP-IV). American Psychiatric Association; Washington (DC): 1997.

How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) sound the same, and are often confused and mistakenly interchanged as being the same illness, but not withstanding similar names, they are in fact two separate conditions.

Whilst OCD is considered an anxiety disorder, OCPD, as the name suggests, is actually a personality disorder. It’s also possible to suffer from both OCD and OCPD simultaneously.

So what is OCPD?

Section Contents

  • Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)
  • Clinical Classification of OCPD

The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) uses the term Anankastic Personality Disorder to code and describe OCPD. The word ‘anankastic’ is derived from the Greek word anankastikos meaning ‘compulsion’.

The main features of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism (around anything from cleanliness to order) at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, regardless of the impact on others.

Individuals with OCPD attempt to maintain control with painstaking attention to rules, trivial details, lists and procedures to the extent that the major point of the activity is often lost, often becoming inflexible. They become oblivious to the fact that other people will often become annoyed at the extent they perform tasks and the delays caused, often believing the other person may be wrong for not working to the same perceived standard.

The inflexibility can also impact on areas of morality, ethics and values, forcing themselves and others to follow very rigid moral principles.

OCPD is one of the most prevalent personality disorders in the general population, with estimated prevalence ranging from 2% to 8%. Some studies suggest that Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is more common in males.

How does OCPD differ from OCD?
Individuals with anxiety disorders like OCD, may have an increased likelihood of having a personality that meets some criteria for Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. Despite this individuals with OCD do not have a pattern of behaviour that would usually meet the criteria for OCPD.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) specifies the following difference in diagnosing OCD and/or OCPD:

Despite the similarity in names, OCD is usually easily distinguished from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder by the presence of true obsessions and compulsions in OCD. When criteria for both obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and OCD are met, both diagnoses should be recorded.

Much of the difference is based around how much insight the person suffering has. Whilst people with OCD usually have sufficient insight that OCD is causing their behaviour, and accept they need to change, people with OCPD usually have little, if any, insight into their behaviours, rituals and thinking needing to change. Typically, people with OCD know they need help and will usually want treatment, but people with OCPD typically believe they don’t require treatment.

Significantly, whereas with OCD, the thoughts, beliefs and behaviours (obsessions and compulsions) are because of feared consequences that feel very real; which often interfere in several areas of the person’s life including work, social and/or family life. With OCPD, the problem is much more about rigidity around rules rather than perceived consequences and will usually interfere with certain tasks. Interpersonal relationships will often suffer, with co-workers, or even employer relationships becoming strained because of set rules having to be adhered to at work. Equally at home, family members of people with OCPD can often feel extremely criticised and controlled which can be frustrating and upsetting and often lead to conflict.

Treating Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
It’s not easy to treat OCPD, even when the person is prepared to seek help, but if the person is willing to seek and accept help, then treatment can be effective. It has been suggested that sometimes those with OCPD may respond better to treatment because of rigid adherence to therapy tasks set by the therapist.

The treatments for OCPD are very similar to those for OCD, with the treatment found to be the most effective being a talking therapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Some people find they also need the additional support of medications.

“A place for everything and everything in its place” is an old literary quote that may ring true if you’re living with symptoms of OCPD. What are other symptoms of the condition?

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is more than just making plans, lists, and constantly organizing. For you, it may be more about a persistent urge to maintain control, and feeling unable to do something unless every detail falls into what you consider the right place.

OCPD is often confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, these are two different mental health conditions.

If you’re unsure if you have OCPD, understanding the condition can give you a starting point before seeking a diagnosis. And if you’re living with OCPD, learning more about your condition and how it’s treated can make a difference in managing your day-to-day life.

A persistent and intense behavioral pattern that involves a need to maintain order, perfection, and mental and interpersonal control characterizes this personality disorder. This often leads to focusing intensely on specific details. In turn, this focus causes you significant distress.

Decision-making may be painful to you, particularly when there are no established rules to guide you. It may also be difficult to prioritize tasks or choose a specific method to complete one. You may spend a lot of time checking or developing rules, procedures, schedules, and similar control methods.

With OCPD, you could also feel highly frustrated and upset if you’re in a situation where you don’t have control. For example, you may get angry if a customer service representative doesn’t solve a situation the way you wanted. Instead of filing a complaint with management, you may persistently think of ways to leave a poor business review.

There’s not just one cause for OCPD or other personality disorders.

It’s believed that a combination of physiological and environmental factors may play a role in someone developing the condition.

These factors may include:

  • genetics
  • childhood trauma
  • abuse during childhood
  • modeling behaviors from someone close to you

Older research has suggested that maternal verbal abuse, for example, leads to an increased chance of developing personality disorders, including OCPD.

In sum, OCPD is a complex mental health condition, probably caused by a complex mixture of environmental, lifestyle, and physiological influences.

Only a trained mental health professional may be able to provide an accurate diagnosis of OCPD. For this, they’ll want to talk with you about your symptoms, concerns, routines, relationships, and persistent thoughts.

After gathering this information, they can compare it to diagnostic criteria.

Living with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder means different things for different people.

You may be hyperfocused on work versus family or romantic interactions, for example. Or perhaps you may realize you’re in a hoarding situation because disposing of objects is a challenge for you. You could also find yourself having a hard time spending money on what’s considered minor expenses.

According to the DSM-5, to reach a diagnosis, four or more of these symptoms must be present and evident across situations:

  • a preoccupation with rules, details, organization, schedules, and tracking processes
  • the urgency to reach perfection, which gets in the way of completing tasks
  • prioritizing work and productivity over interpersonal relationships and relaxation
  • extreme challenges accepting other beliefs, values, and ethics, and being intensely focused on following your own
  • not being able to discard unused, worn-out, or older objects
  • extreme difficulty delegating tasks or negotiating with others, unless they’re willing to adhere to your ways
  • trying to save money and limiting expenses for yourself and others, even when unnecessary
  • rigid thinking patterns and stubbornness

Not every symptom above means you have OCPD, and not everyone with OCPD will have all the symptoms.

Even if it feels challenging, it’s possible to manage your symptoms and cope. This is usually accomplished with the help of a mental health professional.

In general, OCPD is treated with psychotherapy, aka talk therapy.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy are two types of psychotherapy usually recommended in both individual and group-based settings.

In some cases — particularly if you also have symptoms of anxiety — medication may be prescribed to help with specific symptoms.

But since everyone is different, you can discuss your options (and any concerns you might have) with a healthcare professional. This way, you can participate in planning your treatment.

If you’re persistently focused on details, rules, and achieving “perfection” — and it affects the way you see yourself, others, and the world — you may be living with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

OCPD is manageable, though, and the support of a mental health professional is a good place to start. Consider these resources as a starting line:

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is defined by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that interfere with a person’s normal routines, daily functioning, or relationships with others. They are distressing to the one who suffers from OCD and they are time-consuming.

Obsessions are persistent thoughts, ideas, impulses, or images that cause anxiety and worry. The person feels that the thoughts are not within his or her control and that the thoughts are not normal. The person suffering from obsessions knows that these thoughts come from within and are not imposed from an outside source.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors performed in response to obsessive thoughts in order to relieve anxiety or worry. The discomfort of an obsessive thought compels the sufferer to want to contain or neutralize the discomfort by engaging in some ritualistic behavior. These compulsions can be mental acts, such as counting, praying, repeating words silently, or repetitive behaviors such as checking, hand washing, or putting objects in order. People with OCD do not experience pleasure from performing these behaviors they engage in them in order to avoid some dreaded consequence, such as harm that might come to others or to themselves, if they do not perform the rituals.

To qualify as obsessive-compulsive disorder, the person recognizes that the obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable. They cause marked distress, are time-consuming (taking up at least one hour per day), and significantly interfere with the person’s normal routine, work or school functioning, or usual social activities or relationships.

OCD is not the same as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, an eating disorder, or superstitious behavior. It is important to realize that OCD is not the same as Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, which is a tendency that some people have to be perfectionists. These people like having order and some rigidity in their lives. People with OCD, on the other hand, are disturbed by their ritualistic patterns.

The onset of OCD is usually gradual, although in some cases, people have reported a sudden onset. When a person has a biological predisposition to OCD, it can be triggered off by stress at home, with a relationship, with friends, or on the job. It is often associated with major life transitions, such as pregnancy, leaving home for the first time, increased levels of responsibility, or health problems.

OCD is linked to anxiety. Not only do the obsessions and compulsions cause the person great anxiety, but they may actually be the way a person alleviates anxiety. When victims of this disorder experience anxiety, they find structure and a degree of comfort in repeating the same thoughts or behaviors over and over again. But engaging in these thoughts and behaviors seems itself to cause further anxiety. This becomes an endless cycle in which the person truly feels trapped.

Some OCD Statistics

About 20% of the people with this disorder have only obsessions or compulsions (but not both), and the remaining 80% experience both obsessions and compulsions. Most people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder will show symptoms prior to the age of 25; only 15% of all OCD sufferers will first show signs after the age of 35. About 15 to 20% have a family member who also suffers from this disorder.

Approximately 70% of those with OCD will suffer from a major depression at some point in their lives. There is a slightly higher incidence of OCD in women if it first appears during adolescence. However, if it first shows itself in childhood, boys with OCD outnumber girls by about two to one. What these statistics show is that if you suffer from OCD, you are not alone. People with OCD keep it a secret, so we don’t usually realize how many of the people have it.

Juggling obsessive compulsive personality disorder and marriage can be challenging. When your spouse insists on a rigid routine each morning, is constantly coming late to social events due to rituals, and insists on keeping the mugs in the kitchen cabinet lined up in a specific order, you may often feel frustration. After all, you may think, can’t your spouse just stop doing these things?

If your spouse has OCPD, the answer is, “Not easily.” Although your marriage partner can deal with OCPD through therapy and medication, your relationship will need to weather far more than a “typical” relationship does. Ironically, your spouse will have a difficult time with the relationship as well, knowing that you will never truly comprehend how they feel. It can be hard to support your spouse with OCPD, but doing so can help bring you close together and help your spouse to truly heal.

How You Can Help

One way you can help deal with your spouse’s OCPD effectively is by learning more about your spouse’s personality disorder. Recognize that it is not your spouse’s fault – and not your fault either – and research various ways that your other half can get help for their symptoms. You can do this by taking out books about the disorder, reading message boards containing posts by people who have OCPD and their families, or reading memoirs written by people with OCPD. Once you have educated yourself, work to help your spouse get the treatment needed, from therapy to medication. Educate any children of the parent with OCPD as well.

While your spouse is healing, make sure not to feed into any obsessions. Don’t take part in your spouse’s rituals, thinking that you are supporting them. Your goal should be to truly support your spouse, but not to support the OCPD. To do this, consider being more proactive about problem solving by sitting down with your spouse and writing a contract about what you will do when they start having obsessions or compulsions. Then stick to this plan when the triggers hit, knowing that you’ve agreed on it beforehand.

Support for You

Dealing with obsessive compulsive personality disorder and marriage together can be tough, and you need and deserve some support in your role. If your marriage hits a stressful point, consider attempting couple therapy with a therapist who is experienced with OCPD in the marriage relationship. Keep in mind, too, that when your spouse has OCPD, both of you need may need time to grieve the loss of the “unburdened” relationship you thought you would have. It can take time to develop a new vision of a relationship that takes your spouse’s needs and limitations into account.

References

This post is part of the series: Dealing With OCPD

Are you the spouse, child, or coworker of someone who has OCPD? If so, this series will give you information and tips that can be helpful with dealing with someone who has OCPD.

  1. Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder Relationships
  2. Tips on How to Help The Person With OCD In Your Life
  3. How to Cope with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder Family Members
  4. Supporting Your Spouse With OCD
  5. What Do I Do if My Spouse Has OCPD?

Healing OCPD & Taking the Wheel of the Driven Personality

Psychotherapist & Jungian analyst Gary Trosclair explores the perils & potentials
of the driven personality for compulsives and their loved ones–removing the disorder from Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

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I’m a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Medical Center in New York City.

People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder do not necessarily have the more commonly discussed obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), although many individuals think the two conditions are the same. Those with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) generally have an inflexible pattern of thinking, feeling, and behaving, whereas those with obsessive-compulsive disorder have obsessions (recurrent, persistent thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors).

Sound confusing? Michael’s story is fairly typical of OCPD. By 25, Michael had established his career as a dancer in a modern troupe. He diligently practiced dancing every evening without missing a night. By day he worked as a waiter in a café. His co-workers knew he was finicky and they often teased him about not being able to touch leftovers on customers’ plates. Sometimes Michael would even pick up used dishes with napkins, fearing that he would be contaminated otherwise.

He had many feather pillows around his apartment. Standard ones lined his bed, designer ones were in the living room on his couch, and a big red one was on a mat that he used to work out. After a hard day at the restaurant and stressful night of practice he’d come home, stretch out somewhere, and happily grab a pillow to put under his head. His hands would keep moving over the pillow until he found feathers to crack.

Michael had the opportunity to become a lead dancer in a show that his troupe was putting on in the fall. He doubled his practice time, reduced his hours at the restaurant and tried to lose even more weight. He was already quite fit, but he knew that the artistic director of the troupe liked his male dancers to look almost anorexic. Everyone told him to take it easy, complaining that he looked too gaunt and seemed to be straining himself. Michael ignored them. He slept only four hours a night to squeeze in more practice time and ate even less. He began to realize that something was, in fact, wrong when he found himself compelled to align the pillows perfectly on his bed and couch before he could fall asleep. Then he found it necessary to balance all his pillows.

He explained his problems to his weekly psychotherapy group, which he had considered eliminating to save time. The other group members asked him if snapping the feathers and balancing his pillows gave him a sexual sensation. Michael said no. He told them that he’d been cracking feathers since childhood, but the balancing compulsion was new. They were sympathetic and tried to offer suggestions to help. Afterward, the social worker who led the group took Michael aside and recommended a psychiatrist. When Michael consulted the doctor, he was given a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

The doctor was able to identify Michael’s problem primarily because he recognized the following eight traits, which are often evident to friends and family who live with someone with OCPD.

1. A preoccupation with details, rules, and schedules to the point in which any joy in the activity is lost. If two pillows were on one side of Michael’s couch, then two would have to be on the other side. He couldn’t rest if he didn’t do this. In addition, he would sit for more than an hour and crack the feathers in his pillows, whereas earlier in his (arguably less stressful) life, he’d only spent a few minutes. The time wasted on this compulsion angered and distressed him, but he found he couldn’t stop.

2. A sense of perfectionism that interferes with getting tasks accomplished. In Michael’s case, he wanted to put gloves on when he worked as a waiter, but he knew he would be mocked by other employees if he did that. Many times he took twice as long as the other waiters to clear tables, but he wouldn’t let anyone help him.

3. Friends and family members play a second or tertiary role in life. A patient of mine called Emily was so involved in her fledgling photography career that her family and friendships were not considered important. Like Michael, if friends or family members wanted to visit or suggested going out, she would put them off — to the extent that she became reclusive. As a result, people with OCPD typically have few friends and their family often disregards them.

4. Excessive rigidity and stubbornness. If the director told Michael to stretch his leg in a certain way, Michael would do it exactly as he was told, even if it was painful or inappropriate for the dance.

5. Over-conscientiousness and inflexibility about his or her values. Emily, the patient mentioned above, would attend church every Sunday and expect everyone else to do the same, whether or not it was part of their belief system.

6. He or she resembles a hoarder. In Michael’s case, since he had trouble throwing anything out, some of his pillows dated back to his childhood

7. The person often can’t let others work for him or her because they often don’t meet his or her standards. Even though they needed help in their respective jobs, both Michael and Emily couldn’t let others work for them because they didn’t meet their exacting — and often unrealistic — standards.

8. An unhealthy use of money — often excessively hoarding money or being miserly. Michael had packets of money stashed around his apartment that he never used even when he needed it.

When Michael was compelled to pick on the feathers of his pillow for an hour, he was bordering on having obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, with the psychiatrist’s help and group therapy, Michael was able to limit his feather-picking and eventually become more social and less rigid in his thinking and behavior. People with OCD are usually not able to stop themselves so easily from their compulsions or obsessions without medications or extensive behavioral therapy, which is another clue to their difference.

If someone you know or love displays traits such as those that Michael or Emily did, then please encourage them to get help either with individual psychotherapy or group therapy. It will make all the difference in the world to that person and everyone around him.

The only true way to deal with OCPD is through therapy, which can help tame some of the inflexibility that often accompanies OCPD. At the same time, it can be helpful to have some tips about how to deal with people who have obsessive compulsive personality disorder. Whether you have a parent, spouse, friend, or co-worker of a person who has this disorder, you can use these tips to help you deal with them in the most helpful way possible.

Realize Where They’re Coming From

One of the best ways to help you understand how deal with people who have obsessive compulsive personality disorder is to realise where they are coming from.

Your boss who has OCPD doesn’t want you to work overtime because he wants to ruin your life; he truly believes that if you care about your job, you’re willing to give it your all. After all, he probably does. Your spouse with OCPD isn’t micromanaging your part of a task because she thinks you’re incompetent; she truly feels like she must have control over exactly how everything is done, since her way seems to be the only way that makes sense. And your child with OCPD isn’t focusing on minute details of the task in order to avoid getting the job done; he seriously has a problem distinguishing the important aspects of the task from the less important ones.

Empathize

When a person with OCPD approaches you with a problem, you may not think it seems like much of a problem at all. That doesn’t matter. Showing empathy for the person’s concerns will go a long way towards building up your relationship with the person who has OCPD. For example, if a subordinate in the office comes to you complaining about the fact that her co-workers have broken seemingly unimportant rules, you first need to show that you understand her complaint. Tell her that rules are important to you as well. Only then, after this display of understanding, let her know which rules are truly important and which ones are allowed to be bent at times. The same would apply to an OCPD child who gets lost in the details of a homework assignment, or the OCPD spouse who complains about wanting things to be done only in a certain way. Empathize first, give a different perspective second.

Focus on Their Strengths

Dealing with people who have OCPD can be especially difficult if you focus purely on their weaknesses, or on the parts of their personality that truly bothers you. But there are some aspects of OCPD that are actually the traits of a conscientious person. For example, the person with OCPD appreciates the value of hard work and is willing to put in intense effort to reach a goal. A person with OCPD may be careful with money, have strong morals or religious values, and have the capability to focus attention on one idea or detail for a long time. These strengths can come in handy in the academic world, in other employment sectors, and even in some social environments. Capitalize on these strengths, and point them out to the person with OCPD when possible.

References

“The Complete Guide to Understanding. Controlling, and Stopping Bullies,” by Margaret R. Kohut

This post is part of the series: Dealing With OCPD

Are you the spouse, child, or coworker of someone who has OCPD? If so, this series will give you information and tips that can be helpful with dealing with someone who has OCPD.

  1. Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder Relationships
  2. Tips on How to Help The Person With OCD In Your Life
  3. How to Cope with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder Family Members
  4. Supporting Your Spouse With OCD
  5. What Do I Do if My Spouse Has OCPD?

Affiliations

  • 1 Department of Psychology, Binghamton University – State University of New York, 4400 Vestal Parkway East, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY, 13902, USA. [email protected]
  • 2 Department of Psychology, Binghamton University – State University of New York, 4400 Vestal Parkway East, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY, 13902, USA.
  • PMID: 30101380
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10597-018-0323-z
  • Search in PubMed
  • Search in NLM Catalog
  • Add to Search

Authors

Affiliations

  • 1 Department of Psychology, Binghamton University – State University of New York, 4400 Vestal Parkway East, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY, 13902, USA. [email protected]
  • 2 Department of Psychology, Binghamton University – State University of New York, 4400 Vestal Parkway East, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY, 13902, USA.
  • PMID: 30101380
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10597-018-0323-z

Abstract

Previous research has indicated that the public’s knowledge on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is poor. Public understanding and perception of OCD may be one contributor to this issue. Given that mental health literacy is an important first step for those to receive the appropriate care, we sought to understand more about the public’s awareness and perceptions of OCD. Data regarding knowledge of OCD were collected through a New York statewide telephone survey (N = 806). Results indicated that those who had never heard of OCD were more likely to be ethnic minorities, have a lower income, and less education. Most participants described OCD either in terms of compulsions or in terms of perfectionism. Almost half (46.5%) of participants did not think there is a difference between someone with OCD and someone who is obsessive-compulsive. These findings are consistent with previous literature regarding race and treatment seeking behaviors.

Keywords: Mental health literacy; Obsessive compulsive disorder; Obsessive compulsive personality disorder.

[Editor’s Note: This piece is part of an ongoing series of personal essays on what it’s like to live with a mental health diagnosis. Each piece describes a singular and unique experience. These essays are not meant to be representative of every diagnosis, but to give us a peek into one person’s mind so we may be more empathetic to all.]

A familiar sinking feeling morphed into steely indignation as I stood in front of thirty undergraduates, explaining the statistics required for an upcoming assignment. Two students whispered and then looked up at me with a smirk; most of the others had glazed expressions, and some just sat wide-eyed, looking perplexed.

Don’t these students care about their education? I wondered. I finished the lecture feeling tight and irritated. Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is distinct from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, in that OCPD sufferers don’t suffer from unwanted, repetitive rituals. On the contrary, they might see the compulsions as completely warranted, possibly also expecting others to act in similar ways. The American Psychiatric Association defines OCPD as “a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency.” The incessant perfectionism and control pertain to the obsessive-compulsive part of the definition. What makes it a personality disorder is when the obsessive compulsiveness occurs in many contexts, over a long period of time, and can result in distress in several areas of one’s life. Two weeks later, I reviewed my students’ assignments. The majority passed, but, for such an easy assignment, they ought to have gotten higher marks, I thought. If only I was a better speaker, if only I had prepared more, and if I only was more attractive, the students would’ve paid more attention to my lecture and handed in quality work. At the gym later that evening, I made eye contact with a few people whose eyes seemed to carry a similar smirk I had witnessed in front of the class. Ugh, this gym is too small. I can’t even look up without feeling judged . I tried to run off the irritation and tightness from the day, but it was tough—and I felt so unfit. No wonder people look at me and judge.

The following morning my body hurts from working out—a wonderful sign that I may be fitter and slimmer soon. But there’s a problem: I can’t get out of bed. A thick atmosphere of panic sets in because I have so much to do today. I’m falling behind in my studies. Do the dishes, run the errands, start on the publication. Find a way to have fun and relax (the irony). Buy groceries. Improve my lazy attitude and carry myself with more confidence. All this before breakfast. Panic turns quickly to dread as I revise my schedule and wonder what was making me feel so bad. I know I need to relax, but when I’m not productive, my mind swirls with thoughts of what I have to do, how to fix myself and navigate working with others. In 2015, I spent three weeks in a psychiatric hospital. It was impossible to control how suicidal I felt which freaked me out because, as a promising academic, control was something I understood well. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder which can be created and perpetuated by perfectionism and inflexibility. And so I received a second diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), a condition characterized by these traits. But I am so nice, understanding, and accommodating! I pride myself on being able to appreciate many points of view and adapt when new information presents itself. Psychologists are not always correct in their assessments. I told my supervisor about the OCPD diagnosis and, to my surprise, he didn’t bat an eyelid. A professor who worked long hours thought I was a misguided perfectionist. Instead of focussing on my thesis, we spent the meeting discussing perfectionism and why it can be difficult to navigate alongside studies.

I started to realize that I may not be as easy-going as I’d imagined. For one, even though my peers would experience feeling stress out about their work, they didn’t seem as devastated if something didn’t work out. If they tutored and lectured they did so with confidence and felt far less attached than I did about how students perceived them, or how well their students performed. Most importantly, they seemed to enjoy themselves more. It was a big shift in perspective for me as society encourages and celebrates hard work and productivity. OCPD is not often a diagnosis we hear about: overworking and perfectionism can sound like really positive traits. I learned to cede some control and accept my depression and OCPD. With acceptance, I could devote my time and energy into therapy in an effort to better cope. I am learning that my prior standards can be unreasonable, unhealthy, and unfair to myself and others. So too, my achievements, hours worked, and appearance are not fulfilling or enduring enough to define me; I’m learning (and practicing) how to focus more on my lived experience. In the morning, I’m still hit by an unavoidable, long list of tasks. But now, I’m more mindful of my mental wellbeing and the scope of my limits. I fix myself breakfast and dress in something that is comfortable and cute. When I feel that familiar tightness and irritation, I know that I need to take a step back: a tactic I practice routinely. Overworking is still a temptation for me, and I sometimes have to tear myself away from work; turns out that efficiency and productivity may not be humanity’s highest calling. Who knew?

The “A Day With Mental Health” series is brought to you by Headspace and Bring Change to Mind (BC2M) . BC2M is a nonprofit organization built to start the conversation about mentalВ health,В and to raise awareness, understanding, and empathy. They develop influential public service announcements (PSAs) and pilot evidence-based, peer-to-peer programs at the undergraduate and high school levels, engaging students to eradicate stigma. Because science is essential to achieving this mission, BC2M’s work is grounded in the latest research, evaluated for effectiveness, and shared with confidence. Headspace is proud to partner with them as we shine a light on the day-to-day experiences of living with a mental health diagnosis. This series will publish weekly on Headspace’s the Orange Dot. Read the rest of the series here .

Do I have OCD? Use this quiz to help determine if you might need to consult a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Who Is This Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Quiz For?

Below is a list of eight questions designed for people who are experiencing anxiety-inducing thoughts or repetitive behaviors they believe to be uncontrollable. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few months.

How Accurate Is It?

This quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool. Mental health disorders can only be diagnosed by licensed health care professionals.

Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns aren’t legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.

What Does This Test Consist Of?

Eight questions that relate to common thoughts and behaviors experienced by those diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

How Is OCD Treated?

OCD is highly treatable often through a combination of cognitive behavior therapy and, in some cases, medication.

Your privacy is important to us. All results are completely anonymous.

How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

If you think you or someone you care about may be suffering from OCD, Anxiety, or any other mental health condition, Psycom.net strongly recommends that you seek help from a mental health professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis and support. For those in crisis, we have compiled a list of resources (some even offer free or low-cost support) where you may be able to find additional help.​

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder FAQs

How do you know if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder?

OCD is often a term that is misused to describe people who simply like order or have high standards of cleanliness. In reality, OCD is a serious mental health condition that centers on obsessions, compulsions, or both. OCD is not solely related to germs or cleanliness, but those can be common themes. If you find yourself having recurring, unwanted thoughts that disrupt your daily life and compel you to take an action, you may want to speak to a mental health professional about OCD. 1

Is OCD an anxiety disorder?

OCD was previously categorized as an anxiety disorder but was reclassified in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) under the heading of ‘Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders’. This was a controversial decision in the psychiatric community. Prior to the publishing of DSM-5, a paper titled ‘Should OCD be classified as an Anxiety disorder in DSM-V?’ surveyed authors of OCD publications. Approximately 60% of respondents supported moving OCD out of the anxiety disorders section, while 40% disagreed.

What causes obsessive-compulsive disorder?

While the exact cause of OCD is unknown, scientists believe that biological, genetic, and environmental factors play a role in its occurrence. Having another mental health disorder, having parents or other family members with OCD, and experiencing traumatic life events can increase your risk of developing OCD.

Is OCD a serious mental illness?

OCD is a serious mental illness that can become debilitating if left untreated. It is characterized by high levels of fear, anxiety, and emotional distress. In severe cases of OCD, the disorder can prevent the individual from functioning in daily life, interfere with relationships and responsibilities, and significantly impact quality of life.

Who is most likely to get OCD?

OCD can affect children, adolescents, and adults alike. Most people with OCD are diagnosed by the age of 19, but onset after age 35 can occur. OCD typically presents earlier in males than in females. Having another mental health disorder, having parents or other family members with OCD, and experiencing traumatic life events can increase your risk of developing OCD.

Does OCD get worse with age?

The symptoms of OCD can worsen with age if left untreated. Those diagnosed with OCD in adolescence have a 60% chance of the illness becoming a lifelong disorder without the guidance of a mental health professional. In most cases, OCD symptoms can be alleviated with time and treatment, but others will be classified as chronic.

What is rumination?

Rumination is the process of obsessively thinking about an idea, situation, or choice, which tends to be negative or troubling. Rumination is a central symptom of OCD that causes the individual to spend a significant amount of time thinking about or analyzing their obsessions. Rumination can be seriously damaging to one’s mental health, as it can interfere with daily functioning and cause the individual to withdraw from their responsibilities and relationships.

How do you stop obsessive thoughts?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one means of treatment by which you can stop obsessive thoughts. Through CBT, therapists focus on helping you to recognize negative thoughts and find new ways of responding to them. CBT helps you stand back from these thoughts, look at the evidence closely, and tell yourself something more realistic or accurate. You cannot simply stop obsessive thoughts, but you can change the way you interpret meaning from them and how you respond.

  1. OCD UK. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and OCD. Accessed April 6, 2021.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Accessed April 6, 2021.
  3. Mayo Clinic. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Accessed April 6, 2021.

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        • OCD Medication Guide
        • What is Trichotillomania? A Closer Look at Hair-Pulling Disorder
        • OCD vs OCPD

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      This information is not designed to replace a physician’s independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient. Always consult your doctor about your medical conditions. Remedy Health Media & PsyCom do not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of this website is conditional upon your acceptance of our User Agreement.

      Affiliation

      • 1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa Colleges of Medicine and Public Health, Iowa City 52242, USA. [email protected]
      • PMID: 11496021
      • DOI: 10.1176/appi.psy.42.4.320
      • Search in PubMed
      • Search in NLM Catalog
      • Add to Search

      Authors

      Affiliation

      • 1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa Colleges of Medicine and Public Health, Iowa City 52242, USA. [email protected]
      • PMID: 11496021
      • DOI: 10.1176/appi.psy.42.4.320

      Abstract

      To examine the nature and extent of personality dysfunction related to somatization, the authors administered the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality and the NEO Five-Factor Inventory to a series of somatizing and nonsomatizing patients in a general medicine clinic. A greater percentage of somatizers met criteria for one or more DSM-IV personality disorders, especially obsessive-compulsive disorder, than did control patients. Somatizers also differed from control patients with respect to self-defeating, depressive, and negativistic personality traits and scored higher on the dimension of neuroticism and lower on the dimension of agreeableness. In addition, initial and facultative somatizers showed more personality pathology than true somatizers. These findings suggest that certain personality disorders and traits contribute to somatization by way of increased symptom reporting and care-seeking behavior.

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      • Are you also one of those perfectionists who like everything to be in order?
      • Do you also find it hard to express your feelings?
      • Are you one of those who have an overwhelming need of punctuality?
      • Do you also pay extreme attention to detail?

      Calm down! People also refer to me as “Perfectionist”. Trust me, it’s not a flaw, it’s just a way of our thinking procedure. We often believe that our way of thinking and doing things is correct and others are wrong. But do you know, everyone has a different way of doing things and thinks differently. That doesn’t make them wrong!

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      The exact cause of OCPD is still unknown. But, it can be said that people experiencing OCPD have a combination of genetics and childhood experiences. Personally speaking when people started me referring to myself as a “Perfectionist”. I felt anxious and socially isolated myself from the people. Talking about results, after some time I found that I was alone, frustrated and depressed.

      But, my family supported me through this phase and now I can proudly say that I am a perfectionist. I still like things in order. I still pay attention to detail. But, my way of looking at things is quite different now, I express my feelings easily. I don’t isolate myself and I don’t feel anxious when someone is late.

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      Do you also want to know What I did to overcome such situations? Before starting, it is important to read What is OCPD? What are the symptoms of OCPD? What natural treatment options are available to overcome such situations? So, Let us begin.

      What is Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)?

      OCPD is “personality disorder” with the preoccupation of perfectionism, interpersonal control, at the expense of openness, flexibility, and efficiency.

      When established procedures and rules do not dictate the right answer, the decision making process takes more time and often leads to destructive behavior. They are prone to become angry or upset when things don’t go according to them.

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      People who are experiencing such situations are especially attentive in dominance-submissive relationships. They usually express affection in a highly stilted fashion or controlled and uncomfortable with people who are emotionally expressive. They are always preoccupied with intellect and logic.

      OCPD is an enduring pattern of behavior and inner experience which deviates from the norms of culture. The pattern is pervasive and inflexible across a broad range of social and personal situations which leads to distress and social isolation.

      What are the symptoms of OCPD?

      Below mentioned are the symptoms of OCPD:

      • Perfectionism which impairs the capability to complete tasks
      • Formal, stiff, and rigid mannerisms
      • Overwhelming requirement of punctuality
      • Extremely frugal in terms of money
      • Extreme attention to details
      • Excessively devoted towards work

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      • Hoarding useless and worn items
      • Fear of sharing tasks because of perfection
      • Strict adherence towards ethical and moral codes
      • Need of order for doing activities or work
      • Righteousness
      • Strict adherence towards rules and regulations

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      How is OCPD treated?

      There are two natural ways to treat OCPD, but, before starting we suggest you consult with your mental-health provider first.

      1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

      CBT is a type of counselling which is common among countries. In CBT, the counselor schedules regular sessions. Counselor talks about stress, anxiety and depression and encourages people to put less focus on work and put more focus on family, recreation and other interpersonal relationships.

      Through CBT, you may learn to:

      • Identify problems
      • Develop an awareness of problems
      • Distinguish between irrational thoughts and facts
      • Stop fearing
      • See situations from different perspectives
      • Establish attainable goals

      Learning tools used in CBT:

      • Group discussions
      • Frequent feedbacks
      • Ways to calm body and mind

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      2. Relaxation training

      Relaxation training comprises specific relaxation and breathing techniques which helps to reduce your sense of urgency and stress.

      Examples of Relaxation training:

      • Yoga
      • Tai chi
      • Pilates
      • Deep breathing
      • Meditation
      • Massage

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      • Biofeedback
      • Aromatherapy
      • Music and art therapy
      • Hydrotherapy

      How to support your loved one with OCPD?

      My parents were the real support during my phase. If you suspect your loved one experiencing such situations, try to pay attention to their compulsive behaviors and obsessions. Encourage your loved one to go under therapies . It might get difficult to approach but try to encourage them constantly.

      Keep patience and try to talk. To support them with OCPD, you can also join therapies together which will make the bond strong.

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      “Rising sun comes with rays of hope. So, never ever give up.”

      Hope you like this article and information helps. If you have any questions or experiences to share regarding the article, please write to us from the comment section.

      What is OCPD?

      Obsessive compulsive personality disorder or OCPD is a type of personality disorder in which the individual exhibits rigidity, control, orderliness, and perfectionism. There is also an over-concern with work and a neglect of close interpersonal relationships. Although they are quite similar, OCPD should not be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Let’s take a brief look at how OCPD is different from OCD before we go onto the causes of obsessive compulsive personality disorder.

      OCPD versus OCD

      Obsessive compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent intrusive thoughts followed by compulsive acts, whereas OCPD is a personality disorder characterized by perfectionism and obsession for rules, order, and work. People with OCD recognize that their obsessions are normal, whereas people with OCPD consider their need for strict order as perfectly normal. Another important difference is that OCD interferes in the social and work life of the individual. However, people with OCPD have difficulties with close relationships but the disorder does not interfere in their performance in the work environment.

      Causes of OCPD

      Researchers have not been able to identify any specific causes of OCPD. However, there are few studies that attempt to explain the causes of the development of obsessive compulsive personality disorder symptoms. These include faulty parenting, cultural influences, genetic causes, and biopsychosocial causes.

      Faulty parenting

      Early life experiences are considered to be important reasons behind the development of obsessive compulsive personality disorders. Recent studies have indicated that there are two important factors for the healthy emotional development of the child. The first factor is how warm the parents are towards the child and the second is how responsive they are towards the needs of the child. These two are considered to be essential factors in making the child feel secure and appreciated.

      Individuals with obsessive compulsive personality disorder often report that their parents were not emotionally warm towards them. They were emotionally withholding. They were also perceived as either too over-protective or too over-controlling. Being punished for minor neglect of rules and receiving no rewards for accomplishments have been found to be hallmarks of the childhoods of individuals with OCPD. Children tend to develop OCPD symptoms as a way of avoiding punishment.

      Children with overly strict and emotionally cold parents have also been found to suppress their anger towards them. And although they follow authority figures with much obedience, they can act very harshly towards those who are younger or inferior to them.

      Cultural causes of OCPD

      Highly authoritarian and rule-driven cultures are believed to be contributory causes of OCPD. Excessive devotion to work, limited expression of emotions in relationships, and rigorous adherence to moral ethics can play an important role in the development of obsessive compulsive personality disorder. However, OCPD is usually diagnosed in such people only when it is clear that the person’s attention to rules, order, and rigidity is excessive in compared to other people belonging to the same culture.

      Genetic causes of OCPD

      There isn’t a great deal of data available on the genetic basis of obsessive compulsive personality disorder. However, it has been found that the disorder runs in families and an individual with OCPD is more likely to pass down the disorder to his or her children than a person who does not have the condition.

      Biopsychosocial causes of OCPD

      Most experts are of the opinion that there is no single factor responsible for the development of the symptoms of OCPD. In fact, it is a combination of biological, genetic, social and psychological factors.

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder report this ad

      Although a lot more evidence is required to ascertain the causes of obsessive compulsive personality disorder, it is generally believed that genetics and parental behavior towards the growing child play important roles in the development of OCPD symptoms.

      References

      Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders: Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

      Medline Plus: Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

      Psychcentral: Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

      How to control OCPD

      by gift_lady » Sun May 21, 2006 6:40 pm

      I discovered this disorder by researching demand resistance and demand sensitivity, which totally characterizes me. I have lost jobs due to anger and resentment building up then lashing out. I work from home now because I’m able to control my hours and don’t have to deal with co-workers. I read some info that said that people with OCPD internalize other’s values and bury their own individuality. I do that as well. I always want to be right, do the right thing, be a good person. I worry about what other people think of me as well. I also read from the book “Too Perfect” that people with OCPD feel there is an answer for everything, a specific answer. That describes me as well.

      I make lists of things to do all the time but don’t follow through. Sometimes I will start a project and not finish it. I like to do crafts but it takes me sometimes years to finish an afghan or a cross-stitch pattern. Sometimes I will follow through on things, though, if my interest is high at the time. However, while I’m following my interest, the rest of my life suffers – housework, job, family, etc.

      I can’t seem to get it together. My house is a wreck. I don’t consider myself a hoarder – I’m more than thrilled to toss out trash. However, I do believe I am in the beginnings of animal hoarding – we have 8 cats and 5 dogs and cannot care for them or the house properly with them here. I believe this stems back from childhood because my parents would give away or just abandon my pets and lie to me about what they did. I can’t seem to clean up the house, though. I don’t know where to start or how to do it correctly. There is just too much stuff, too much clutter, too many rooms. Lists overwhelm me. Reading organization books make me feel like a failure because I always stop the process. I’m also overweight and struggle with many things because of it.

      I have been married for 16 years and we have a 12 year old son. We do the absolute minimum of housework usually, and it’s not enough. My dh has books everywhere. I believe he hoards books. He was made to get rid of some things when he was a kid – his sci-fi stuff and Dungeons and Dragons – because his parents felt they were evil. Now that he is an adult he’s purchased all of this stuff all over again plus some. He loves used book stores and is constantly going through his books. If he does give some away he comes back with twice what he got rid of. There is no way he could ever read all the books he has on his shelves. He also lost his father when he was young and won’t give up anything that belonged to him, even old school books. This has been a struggle between us for a long time. If I even mention getting rid of some of the books or housework stuff like cutting the grass, he shuts me out or we have a fight.

      I keep thinking “I should do some laundry,” “I need to clean out the refrigerator before grocery day”, “I have to change the litter boxes,” but I usually don’t do any of that until I’m in crisis mode and feeling extremely overwhelmed. Even as I think these things, I’ll sit at the computer or at the TV instead of doing them. I know that I have to get up early one day, but instead of going to bed like I know I “should” I stay up until 3am and overtire myself the next day. I seem to sabotage all my own efforts.

      How can I live with and overcome this disorder? I truly do want to get my house in order. I want to invite people over and have friends. I have felt terribly lonely in the past but feel powerless because I always seem to drive people away at some point.

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder symptoms usually appear by early adulthood. People with OCPD exhibit a long-standing and consistent pattern of preoccupation with perfectionism, inflexibility, mental and interpersonal control, and rigid adherence to rules and procedures. (What is Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?) They have difficulty expressing affection and usually only do so in a rigid, controlled manner that often seems insincere. When others openly express emotions around them, they feel uncomfortable.

      At the core of the disorder lies a deep fear of failure, which gives rise to the primary characteristics of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder:

      1. Perfectionism – extreme conscientiousness
      2. Work-life imbalance – excessive time at work compared to personal life
      3. Intimacy avoidance – avoiding close friends, family, or romantic relationships
      4. Inflexibility – unable to agree to changes in procedure, rules, or standards
      5. Risk avoidance – inability to take risks that may lead to imperfect results or an uncontrolled circumstance.

      Specific Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Symptoms

      Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder symptoms manifest in specific ways and impact every aspect of a person’s life.

      Signs of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder include:

      • Excessive preoccupation with details, lists, orderliness, rules, procedures, or schedules
      • Perfectionism so stringent that it interferes with task completion
      • Excessive devotion to work so that it interferes with social and personal activities
      • Unwillingness to delegate tasks to others for fear others will not perform up to his or her rigid standards
      • Extreme frugality or miserliness
      • Strict adherence to moral and ethical code, rules and regulations
      • Overwhelming need for order and environmental control
      • Excessive attention to detail
      • Excessive preoccupation with punctuality
      • Hoarding useless, worthless items with no sentimental value

      To receive a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, these symptoms must significantly interfere with a person’s ability to function in everyday life. Some people with OCPD have successful lives, especially professionally, for several years, but as external pressures and stress build, symptoms worsen and the disorder begins to negatively impact multiple areas of their life. (You can read about famous people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.)

      Consider this: A person who shows excessive devotion to work is often referred to as a workaholic. The term “workaholic” implies an addiction to work. When you think of addictive behaviors, you probably think of them in a negative context – like alcoholism or drug addiction. But when someone is compulsively devoted to work, it’s perceived as a positive trait, especially in males.

      Think about it. Often, those people earn coveted promotions and nice bonuses. Right? Not necessarily. That person could have obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. While he may earn recognition and praise for a time due to this seemingly endless devotion, the other OCPD symptoms will begin to interfere with professional success.

      Once he begins to experience problems at home because he’s missed too many birthdays, sports events, anniversary celebrations, etc., the pressure is on. To escape the negative home environment, he may dive even deeper into work, taking on more responsibility than he’s capable of handling. Yet, he will refuse to delegate tasks to others because he thinks they might not “do it right”.

      Despite creating numerous project-related lists, procedures, and standards, his rigid standards and need for perfectionism will paralyze him, rendering him unable to complete any of the projects on time, or at all.

      This scenario illustrates just one example of how symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder can impact a person’s life and the lives of those around him. Most people with this and other personality disorders do not actively want or seek help until the symptoms begin to significantly impair the ability to function in daily life and destroy relationships with others.

      Diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

      Only a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, can give a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The practitioner will review medical history and ask a number of specific questions about the client’s mental health history and that of his or her family. Next, the client will undergo a comprehensive psychological evaluation.

      Once all the information is collected, the doctor will carefully review it and compare symptoms, history, and psychological evaluation results with OCPD diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM 5). After a definitive diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is given, the doctor can then begin to develop a treatment plan that fits the client’s individual needs.

      This post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp. There are many reasons to learn more about personality disorders these.

      How to recognize obsessive compulsive personality disorder

      This post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

      There are many reasons to learn more about personality disorders these days. Personality disorders can have significant impacts on individuals and their loved ones. In many cases, it can affect their ability be hard to make friends and maintain relationships. Learning more about personality disorders, especially obsessive-compulsive personality disorders, can help you navigate relationships and manage yourself better.

      What is a Personality Disorder?

      According to the American Psychiatric Association , “A personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.”

      There are currently ten different types of personality disorders. Anyone can develop a personality disorder during childhood or as an adult. When people find it difficult to control their behavior, thoughts, or emotions, they may be diagnosed with a personality disorder. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is one of the most common personality disorders.

      Many people use articles from BetterHelp to learn more about personality disorders and how to manage them.

      What is Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

      Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, also known as OCPD, is a personality disorder based on an individual’s need for control and structure. A common misconception is that people with OCPD are people who only like things neat and orderly. While this is a common symptom, it goes further than that.

      People who experience obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may feel in control when they keep things neat and orderly. Other common symptoms of OCPD include perfectionism, inflexibility, excessive devotion to various aspects of their life, and a lack of empathy. People with OCPD will appear judgemental and irritated when things are out of their control. When a routine or environment is out of their control, they may react with petulance or violence.

      There are currently no specific causes of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder . Research suggests that genetics, experiences, or trauma can trigger OCPD. When a person has a positive family history of personality disorder or mental health concerns, the offspring is more likely to develop a mental health concern. Other risk factors can include exposure to OCPD, childhood trauma, and abuse. A preexisting mental health concern can also lead to feelings of perfectionism and control.

      How is Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Treated?

      Like many mental health disorders, there is no single treatment plan to help everyone. A treatment plan is prescribed based on the severity of the disorder, the person’s values, and their doctor’s recommendations. Most commonly, doctors suggest psychotherapy, medication, and self-care.

      Psychotherapy focuses on addressing the emotions and behaviors of OCPD. A therapist can assist patients by analyzing their thoughts and helping them find alternate pathways.

      In more severe cases, patients may need medication. There is no medication specific for OCPD, but stimulants and antipsychotics offer the most success.

      Lastly, self-care can benefit people who live with OCPD. Therapists can teach their patients methods and techniques to relax, find inner peace, and embrace things outside their comfort zone.

      If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, consider talking to your doctor about the right treatment plan.

      Please be advised that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the author or his/her sources and do not necessarily reflect those of English Forward. This includes, but is not limited to, third-party content contained on or accessible through the English Forward websites and web pages or sites displayed as search results or contained within a directory of links on the English Forward network.

      , MD, Rhode Island Hospital

      • Symptoms and Signs
      • Diagnosis
      • Treatment

      Because patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder need to be in control, they tend to be solitary in their endeavors and to mistrust the help of others.

      About 2.1 to 7.9% of the general population are estimated to have obsessive-compulsive personality disorder; it is more common among men.

      Familial traits of compulsivity, restricted range of emotion, and perfectionism are thought to contribute to this disorder.

      Symptoms and Signs of OCPD

      Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may lessen even over a time period as short as 1 year, but their persistence (ie, remission and relapse rates) during the long term are less clear.

      In patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, preoccupation with order, perfectionism, and control of themselves and situations interferes with flexibility, effectiveness, and openness. Rigid and stubborn in their activities, these patients insist that everything be done in specific ways.

      To maintain a sense of control, patients focus on rules, minute details, procedures, schedules, and lists. As a result, the main point of a project or activity is lost. These patients repeatedly check for mistakes and pay extraordinary attention to detail. They do not make good use of their time, often leaving the most important tasks until the end. Their preoccupation with the details and making sure everything is perfect can endlessly delay completion. They are unaware of how their behavior affects their coworkers. When focused on one task, these patients may neglect all other aspects of their life.

      Because these patients want everything done in a specific way, they have difficulty delegating tasks and working with others. When working with others, they may make detailed lists about how a task should be done and become upset if a coworker suggests an alternative way. They may reject help even when they are behind schedule.

      Patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are excessively dedicated to work and productivity; their dedication is not motivated by financial necessity. As a result, leisure activities and relationships are neglected. They may think they have no time to relax or go out with friends; they may postpone a vacation so long that it does not happen, or they may feel they must take work with them so that they do not waste time. Time spent with friends, when it occurs, tends to be in a formally organized activity (eg, a sport). Hobbies and recreational activities are considered important tasks requiring organization and hard work to master; the goal is perfection.

      These patients plan ahead in great detail and do not wish to consider changes. Their relentless rigidity may frustrate coworkers and friends.

      Expression of affection is also tightly controlled. These patients may relate to others in a formal, stiff, or serious way. Often, they speak only after they think of the perfect thing to say. They may focus on logic and intellect and be intolerant of emotional or expressive behavior.

      These patients may be overzealous, picky, and rigid about issues of morality, ethics, and values. They apply rigid moral principles to themselves and to others and are harshly self-critical. They are rigidly deferential to authorities and insist on exact compliance to rules, with no exceptions for extenuating circumstances.

      Diagnosis of OCPD

      Clinical criteria ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , Fifth Edition [DSM-5])

      For a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, patients must have

      A persistent pattern of preoccupation with order; perfectionism; and control of self, others, and situations

      This pattern is shown by the presence of ≥ 4 of the following:

      Preoccupation with details, rules, schedules, organization, and lists

      A striving to do something perfectly that interferes with completion of the task

      Excessive devotion to work and productivity (not due to financial necessity), resulting in neglect of leisure activities and friends

      Excessive conscientiousness, fastidiousness, and inflexibility regarding ethical and moral issues and values

      Unwillingness to throw out worn-out or worthless objects, even those with no sentimental value

      Reluctance to delegate or work with other people unless those people agree to do things exactly as the patients want

      A miserly approach to spending for themselves and others because they see money as something to be saved for future disasters

      Rigidity and stubbornness

      Also, symptoms must have begun by early adulthood.

      Differential diagnosis

      Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder should be distinguished from the following disorders:

      Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent, persistent, unwanted, and intrusive thoughts, urges, or images (obsessions) and/or by repetitive behaviors or mental acts that. read more : Patients with OCD have true obsessions (repetitive, unwanted, intrusive thoughts that cause marked anxiety) and compulsions (ritualistic behaviors that they feel they must do to reduce their anxiety-related obsessions). Patients with OCD are often distressed by their lack of control over compulsive drives; in patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, the need for control is driven by their preoccupation with order so their behavior, values, and feelings are acceptable and consistent with their sense of self.

      Avoidant personality disorder Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD) Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by the avoidance of social situations or interactions that involve risk of rejection, criticism, or humiliation. Diagnosis is by clinical criteria. read more : Both avoidant and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders are characterized by social isolation; however, in patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, isolation results from giving priority to work and productivity rather than relationships, and these patients mistrust others only because of their potential to intrude on the patients’ perfectionism.

      Schizoid personality disorder Schizoid Personality Disorder (ScPD) Schizoid personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of detachment from and general disinterest in social relationships and a limited range of emotions in interpersonal relationships. read more : Both schizoid and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders are characterized by a seeming formality in interpersonal relationships and by detachment. However, the motives are different: a basic incapability for intimacy in patients with schizoid personality disorder vs discomfort with emotions and dedication to work in patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

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      Obsessive-compulsive disorder personality is a kind of anxiety that arises when there is some issue with how the brain deals with normal worrying and doubts. Children or older people who have obsessive-compulsive bipolar disorder worry a lot.

      They often feel that bad things can happen at any moment. Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder is not very difficult. Proper diagnosis, medication, and regular psychotherapy can be a package for treating Obsessive-compulsive Disorder.

      Definition of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder(OCD)

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      The word obsession means a recurrent idea, thought, impulse, or image that is intrusive and inappropriate, leading to a marked increase in anxiety or distress.

      On the other hand, a compulsion is a ritualistic, repetitive, and involuntary defensive behavior or action. Performing a compulsive behavior minimizes the patient’s anxiety and enhances the probability that the behavior will recur.

      Generally, compulsions are linked with obsessions.

      According to a recent study, patients with obsessive-compulsive bipolar disorder are more likely to abuse psychoactive substances like alcohol and anxiolytics to relieve their anxiety.

      Other anxiety disorders such as Tourette syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other depression commonly coexist with obsessive-compulsive bipolar disorder.

      Causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Personality

      The cause of the obsessive-compulsive disorder personality is not known.

      Studies demonstrate that there are abnormalities in the central nervous system’s serotonin transmission and the paralimbic circuit. There are a few studies that think that there is some possibility of brain lesions.

      Major depression, organic brain syndrome, and schizophrenia may have some role to play in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Authorities believe that this disorder is closely related to eating disorders.

      Any individual who has a blood relative suffering from this disorder is more likely to develop the disorder than someone who does not.

      Research points out that not every individual with a relative with the disorder will necessarily develop it.

      Interesting Facts for Treatment Of OCD

      Statistically, obsessive-compulsive disorder afflicts about 3.3 million adult Americans and 50 worldwide. It strikes men and women in approximately equal numbers and first makes its presence felt in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.

      According to one study, about one-third of adults suffering from this disorder report that they experienced their first symptoms as children.

      Symptoms may come and go or may ease over time, or with time, they can grow progressively worse.

      Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment

      This disorder is quite tenacious, but improvement occurs in around 60% to 70% of patients who get proper treatment. Present treatment involves a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy(CBT).

      Other kinds of psychotherapy may also play a prominent part. Often people suffering from the obsessive-compulsive disorder have other types of anxiety, such as phobias or panic attacks.

      These people may also have depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, an eating disorder, or a learning disorder such as dyslexia.

      According to experts, having one or more of these disorders can make diagnosis and treatment tough. Therefore it is recommended that you talk to your doctor about any symptoms you have.

      Important Points for Coping with OCD

      • Approach the patient unhurriedly.
      • Give the patient an accepting atmosphere. Do not appear shocked, amused, or critical of the ritualistic behavior.
      • Keep the patient’s physical health in mind. For example, compulsive hand washing may lead to skin breakdown, and rituals or preoccupations may give rise to inadequate food and fluid intake and exhaustion. You must satisfy patients’ basic needs, such as rest, nutrition, and grooming.
      • Let the patient know you are aware of the behavior and attitude. Assist the patient in exploring feelings linked with the behavior.
      • To successfully treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, it is paramount that you make reasonable demands and set reasonable limits, explaining their objective properly. Avoid creating situations that can enhance frustration and lead to anger, which may interfere with treatment.

      Analyze patterns leading to behavior or recurring problems. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be managed with proper medication and counseling or psychotherapy from a professional psychologist or psychiatrist.

      If you have the traits of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), you could be causing the people who love or work with you to feel miserable a good deal of the time. There are ways to identify these traits within yourself and work with them to gain more respect at home and at work.

      Looking in the Mirror: Could This Be an Accurate Reflection?

      The actor Don Knotts became famous portraying a person who had OCPD — you probably remember the character Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show. Barney was all about making and enforcing rules, and he was rigid and inflexible.

      Poor Sheriff Andy Taylor rarely got a rest from his cousin and deputy Barney, since he never called in for a sick day, so Andy sometimes made a game of seeing how he could pester him. You might find that people like to mess with you as well, and this can feel condescending at times. It makes for entertaining TV, but it’s not much fun in real life.

      Barney liked to be left in charge, but when the sheriff was gone, he got into all sorts of trouble due to his foibles. He felt his way was the best, so when he had dealings with the townsfolk, they would balk at following his instructions. Things would escalate until Andy arrived to release the whole town from jail — or untie everybody, including Barney — and restore order.

      Barney wanted to be brave, but due to his personality, he wasn’t much of a risk taker. He wanted a normal social life, but sometimes he could be awkward around new people. He could be stilted even around his beloved Thelma Lou, because of his fear of intimacy.

      You may not identify too much with Barney, but as you reflect on these characteristics, some of them may strike a chord. Some other traits of OCPD include being:

      • Consumed with list-making,
      • Excessively frugal,
      • Micro-managing,
      • Nearsighted in your approach to projects,
      • Unable to make big decisions without support,
      • Hyper-critical,
      • Resistant to having fun,
      • Unable to relax,
      • Somewhat humorless.

      You may like to work in a highly structured environment, such government job, and you prefer your religion to have strict doctrinal stances on all matters. You may also be a hoarder of useless items, and obsessed with organizing them.

      If someone goes on a vacation with you, they may feel like they need another vacation afterwards to decompress. Since you are comfortable with strict systems and rules in order to function, you may view others who like a freer environment as irresponsible or incompetent, and this attitude shows.

      One common problem reported about OCPD sufferers is that they do not get much accomplished because of their disorder. This may not be a fair descriptor. Steve Jobs certainly would have scored high on an OCPD questionnaire, but no one would have considered him unproductive; in fact, he was known as brilliant and creative. On the other hand, there are some people who worked with him that might claim his management style and work methods interfered with their creativity and productivity.

      Uncovering Origins of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

      Although OCPD has a genetic component, certain environmental factors are believed to bring out these traits. You might come from a long line of people with this disorder, but many of your actions could be the result of learned behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. You weren’t taught to manage risks or experiment, and you were never trained to feel comfortable making decisions because your parents were strict and overbearing.

      Conversely, if your home environment was chaotic due to a parent having a mental disorder or abusing alcohol or drugs, and the other parent was absent much of the time, you may have adopted a rigid mode of operating to cope. Even in this case, you would not have had much guidance on how to develop reasonableness, decision-making skills, and clarity.

      Building a New Way of Living

      A lot of people with OCPD traits fail to recognize they have a problem, and will seek psychiatric treatment only if faced with the possibility of the loss of a job or a relationship. In this case, they may be resistant to treatment, and they will nitpick the therapist the same way they do everyone else.

      However, therapy may be useful to you because a counselor can give you the support you need to open up and learn to tolerate, and come to appreciate, the many shades of gray there are in life.

      Many personality disorders are not strictly black and white, as either you have one or you don’t. It is more accurate to say these are based on a continuum that is determined by the number of related traits or symptoms, and the strength of each one. You may not fit the strict criteria of OCPD, but if some of your traits are causing you problems, you would benefit from learning how to overcome or modify them.

      The root of your OCPD behavior may be an overwhelming fear of failure, but remember: most successful creators felt free to experiment and to fail. Some of the greatest breakthroughs in history were the result of “failures.”

      To get along with others, you will need to learn to step back and let people do things their own way. If you can start doing this more, you may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

      You would do well to surround yourself with empathetic people who can help you loosen up and maybe give you a gentle ribbing when you get carried away, like Andy Taylor did for Barney. In one episode (S02E29: “Andy on Trial“), Barney admitted that working with Andy was helping him learn to be a more humane person by his easygoing nature and continuing example of kindness.

      , MD, Rhode Island Hospital

      • Symptoms
      • Diagnosis
      • Treatment

      People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder need to be in control and do things in a specific way in their pursuit of perfectionism.

      Doctors diagnose obsessive-compulsive personality disorder based on specific symptoms, including preoccupation with details, rules, schedules, organization, and lists and a focus on doing something perfectly that interferes with completing a task.

      Psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy may help.

      Because people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder need to be in control, they tend to do things alone and to mistrust the help of others.

      Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is one of the most common personality disorders. Estimates of how common it is vary, but it probably occurs in between 2 to almost 8% of the general population in the United States. It is more common among men.

      Certain traits that run in families—compulsivity, a limited range of emotion, and perfectionism—are thought to contribute to this disorder.

      Other disorders are also often present. People often also have one or more of the following:

      Unlike obsessive-compulsive disorder Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions are recurring, persistent, unwanted, anxiety-provoking, intrusive ideas, images, or urges. Compulsions. read more (OCD), obsessive-compulsive personality disorder does not involve true obsessions (recurring, unwanted, intrusive thoughts that cause great anxiety) and compulsions (rituals people feel driven to do to control their obsessions), such as excessive hand washing or repeated checking to make sure a door is locked. Also, people with OCD are often distressed by their lack of control over compulsions. In contrast, people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are comfortable with their obsessive-compulsive behavior because they believe it is needed to achieve their goals of order, perfectionism, and control.

      Symptoms

      Focus on order and perfectionism

      People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are preoccupied with order, perfectionism, and control of themselves and situations. To maintain a sense of control, people focus on rules, trivial details, procedures, schedules, and lists. This preoccupation interferes with their ability to be flexible, effective, and open to different ideas. Rigid and stubborn in their activities, these people insist that everything be done in a specific way.

      Effects on work

      Because people with this disorder focus on rules, details, and organizational issues, they lose the main point of a project or activity. These people repeatedly check for mistakes and pay attention to every detail. They do not make good use of their time, often leaving the most important tasks until the end. Their preoccupation with the details and making sure everything is perfect can endlessly delay completion of a task. They are unaware of how their behavior affects their coworkers. When focused on one task, these people may neglect all other aspects of their life.

      Because people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder want everything done in a specific way, they have difficulty delegating tasks and working with others. When working with others, they may make detailed lists about how a task should be done and become upset if a coworker suggests an alternative way. They may reject help even when they are behind schedule.

      People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder tend to be very dedicated to work and productivity. Their motivation is not financial necessity.

      Effects on other aspects of life

      Because they are so dedicated to work, they neglect leisure activities and relationships. They may think they have no time to relax or go out with friends. They may postpone a vacation so long that it does not happen, or they may feel they must take work with them so that they do not waste time. Time spent with friends, when it occurs, tends to be in a formally organized activity (such as a sport). Hobbies and recreational activities are considered important tasks requiring organization and hard work to master. Their goal is perfection.

      These people plan ahead in great detail and do not wish to consider changes. Their relentless rigidity may frustrate coworkers and friends.

      Expression of affection is also tightly controlled. People with this disorder may relate to others in a formal, stiff, or serious way. Often, they speak only after they think of the perfect thing to say. They may focus on logic and intellect and be intolerant of emotional or expressive behavior.

      Other symptoms

      People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may be overzealous, picky, and rigid about issues of morality, ethics, and values. They apply rigid moral principles to themselves and to others and are harshly self-critical.

      These people are rigidly deferential to authorities and insist on exact compliance to rules, with no exceptions for extenuating circumstances.

      Discarding worn-out or worthless items (such as broken appliances), even those with no sentimental value, is very difficult for people with this disorder.

      People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may be reluctant to spend money, which they think should be saved in case of future disasters.

      Diagnosis

      A doctor’s evaluation, based on specific criteria

      For doctors to diagnose obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, people must be persistently preoccupied with order, perfectionism, and control of self, others, and situations, as shown by at least four of the following:

      They are preoccupied with details, rules, schedules, organization, and lists.

      Their attempts to do something perfectly interferes with completion of tasks.

      They are extremely devoted to work and productivity (not because of financial necessity), resulting in neglect of leisure activities and friends.

      They are excessively conscientious, exacting, and inflexible regarding ethical and moral issues and values.

      They resist throwing out worn-out or worthless objects, even those with no sentimental value.

      They are reluctant to delegate or work with other people unless others agree to do things exactly as they want.

      They are reluctant to spend money on themselves and others because they see it as something to be saved for future disasters.

      They are rigid and stubborn.

      Also, symptoms must have begun by early adulthood.