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Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: What & Why You Need to Know

Do I have OCD

Sure, diagnoses are often given way too much attention. But knowing ours, when accurate and used properly, can be really helpful. Let’s take the time to chat about a set of circumstances that may be of great interest to you: obsessive-compulsive personality disorder…

Folk with OCD are aware that their dreaded thoughts are unreasonable. Those with OCPD believe their way is the right – and best – way, so they’re comfy cozy…

From the moment I came to understand that my emotional/mental situation was, indeed, emotional/mental, knowing what “I had” became really important to me – even comforting.

So in the spirit of insight and comfort, I’d like to discuss obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). I believe you’ll find the discussion very interesting and potentially (self) relevant.

Personality Disorders

Before we get into OCPD, let’s do a quick review of personality disorders. Very simply, a personality disorder is diagnosed when maladaptive patterns of behavior, cognition, and inner experience deviate from those accepted by one’s culture.

Personality disorders develop early in life, are inflexible, and associated with significant distress or disability. And without intervention, the potential exists for long-term misery for the individual and those around her/him.

These days, three personality clusters are widely accepted: Odd or eccentric, Dramatic, emotional, or erratic, and Anxious or fearful.

OCPD is included in the anxious or fearful cluster.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: What Is It?

The International OCD Foundation posted a great OCPD fact-sheet, written by Barbara Van Noppen, PhD. The vast majority of what you’re about to read comes from her work.

The essential characteristics of OCPD are rigid adherence to rules and regulations, an overwhelming need for order, unwillingness to yield or give responsibilities to others, and a sense of righteousness regarding the way things “should be done.”

What does OCPD look like? Typical presentations include…

  • Excessive devotion to work that negatively impacts family and social activities
  • Excessive fixation with lists, rules, and minor details
  • Perfectionism that gets in the way of task completion
  • Rigid adherence to moral and ethical codes
  • Unwillingness to assign tasks unless they’re performed exactly as asked
  • Extreme frugality without reason, lack of generosity
  • Hoarding behaviors
  • Causing family members to feel extremely criticized and controlled, making living with the OCPD individual frustrating and upsetting

Keep in mind, one is diagnosed with OCPD only if any of the above cause significant impairment in life routine and/or relationships. Also keep in mind that OCPD traits may exist, short of a diagnosis.

Now, you may be wondering how OCPD differs from good old-fashioned OCD. In many ways, actually, but we only have time to go this far…

Folk with OCD are aware that their dreaded thoughts are unreasonable. Those with OCPD believe their way is the right – and best – way, so they’re comfy cozy. And that means they generally don’t believe treatment is indicated. In their minds, if everyone else conformed to their strict rules, life would be just fine.

Approximately 1 in 100 people in the US are thought to have OCPD. Men are diagnosed two times more than women.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: Why?

Of course, we’re dealing with an emotional/mental situation, so who really knows the cause of OCPD (he says with great frustration).

Some theorists suggest that being raised by parents who were unavailable and either overly controlling or protective may cause OCPD.

And children who were harshly punished may be candidates. Their OCPD traits may have developed as a sort of coping mechanism to avoid punishment. After all, if one is perfect and obedient, one may side-step tons of trouble.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: Does Anything Help?

Psychotherapy, particularly CBT and insight-improving work, can help with OCPD. The goal is reducing rigid expectations and learning how to value close relationships, recreation, and fun – with less emphasis on work and productivity. Learning and practicing relaxation and breathing techniques may assist in reducing feelings of urgency and overall stress.

Meds? Eh, who really knows. Some say SSRIs may help, but only as an add-on to therapy.

And wouldn’t you know it, it often takes the threat of loss of a relationship or job to motivate an individual with OCPD to seek treatment.

That’ll Do It

So there you have it, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Interesting, don’t you think? And I wonder how many of you can identify. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s quite a few.

Diagnoses, often a dime a dozen. But every once in a while we come upon one that seems to fit. And when we do, even in its misery, it provides a strange sense of comfort. After all, at least we know we “have something,” and what to expect.

And then it’s on to acceptance, management, and relief…

Be sure to read Dr. Van Noppen’s fact-sheet on the International OCD Foundation site. There’s a whole bunch of great info I couldn’t fit here.

Hundreds and hundreds of Chipur mood and anxiety disorder articles await. Check the titles.