Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Disclaimer: The Difference Between OCD & OCPD
OCD and OCPD are different conditions that are often confused. The biggest difference between OCD and OCPD is the presence of true obsessions and compulsions (compulsions - Behaviors that you feel you must carry out over and over.) (obsessions - Thoughts, images, or ideas that won’t go away, are unwanted and cause extreme distress.). Someone with OCPD does not have obsessions and compulsions.
For example, although both OCD and OCPD may involve being excessively engaged in tasks that require exquisite attention to detail such as list-making, individuals with OCD:
- Use these tasks to reduce anxiety caused by obsessional thoughts. For example, if you have OCD you might make a list over and over again to prevent the death of a loved one. In contrast, if you have OCPD you might justify list-making as a good strategy to improve efficiency
- are usually distressed by having to carry out these tasks or rituals. In contrast, people with OCPD view activities such as excessive list making or organization of items around the home as necessary and even beneficial
- spend a much greater amount of time engaged in these tasks or rituals than people with OCPD
In addition, if you have OCD, you will usually seek help for the psychological stress caused by having to carry out compulsions or the disturbing content or themes of your obsessions. In contrast, if you have OCPD, you will usually seek treatment because of the conflict caused between you and family and friends related to your need to have others conform to your way of doing things.
Finally, whereas the severity of OCD symptoms will often fluctuate over time, OCPD is chronic in nature, with little change in personality style.
Affecting 3-8% of the population, OCPD often gets overlooked because it’s not dramatic. In fact, with its focus on order, perfection, and control, it’s straightlaced to the extreme. People with OCPD seem to have everything under control, which is actually the problem.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a mental condition in which a person is preoccupied with:
OCPD tends to occur in families, so genes may be involved. A person's childhood and environment may also play roles.
This disorder can affect both men and women. It occurs most often in men.
OCPD has some of the same symptoms as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People with OCD have unwanted thoughts, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts are correct. In addition, OCD often begins in childhood while OCPD usually starts in the teen years or early 20s.
People with either OCPD or OCD are high achievers and feel a sense of urgency about their actions. They may become very upset if other people interfere with their rigid routines. They may not be able to express their anger directly. People with OCPD have feelings that they consider more appropriate, like anxiety or frustration.
A person with OCPD has symptoms of perfectionism that usually begin by early adulthood. This perfectionism may interfere with the person's ability to complete tasks, because their standards are so rigid. They may withdraw emotionally when they are not able to control a situation. This can interfere with their ability to solve problems and form close relationships.
OCPD is pervasive, meaning they affect all parts of a person’s life. For example, with OCPD, the individual wouldn’t be a hard-driving perfectionist in the office and then relax and kick back on the weekends. Instead, he’d be exacting across all domains of life: at home, at school, at work, and even at play, if he ever allowed himself to do so.
Other signs of OCPD include:
- Over-devotion to work
- Not being able to throw things away, even when the objects have no value
- Lack of flexibility
- Lack of generosity
- Not wanting to allow other people to do things
- Not willing to show affection
- Preoccupation with details, rules, and lists
Exams & Tests
OCPD is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation. The health care provider will consider how long and how severe the person's symptoms are.
Medicines may help reduce anxiety and depression from OCPD. Talk therapy is thought to be the most effective treatment for OCPD. In some cases, medicines combined with talk therapy is more effective than either treatment alone.
Outlook for OCPD tends to be better than that for other personality disorders. The rigidness and control of OCPD may prevent many of the complications, such as drug abuse, which are common in other personality disorders.
The social isolation and difficulty handling anger that are common with OCPD may lead to depression and anxiety later in life.
Complications may include:
- Difficulty moving forward in career situations
- Relationship difficulties