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  • Writer's pictureDr. Tarra Bates-Duford

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is a mental health condition characterized by a preoccupation with rules, control, orderliness, perfectionism at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency. OCPD tends to occur in families, so genetics can play a significant in development of the disorder. Childhood experiences as well as environment can also be associated with OCPD. Although, OCPD can affect both men and women, it is more likely to occur in men.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder share many of the same symptoms making it difficult for some people to distinguish between the two. However, the distinction between OCD includes the sufferer having unwanted thoughts, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts are correct. Onset of symptoms for both disorders are also different as OCD often begins in childhood while OCPD usually starts in the teen years or early 20s. Interestingly enough both those with OCPD and PCD are high achievers, wanting to excel at everything they do. The environment created by people with OCPD and OCD are typically very rigid without much room for flexibility.

Signs of OCPD include:

  • Rigidity

  • Extreme desire to overachieve

  • Overly pre-occupied with rules, details, and orderliness

  • Unwilling to show perceived vulnerability, i.e., affection to others

  • Frugality or lack of generosity

  • Obsessively pre-occupied with work detail

  • Difficulty sustaining romantic relationships

Effective treatment for OCPD can include medicinal interventions such as targeted to reduce anxiety or depression. Individual therapy can also help to reduce or mitigate some of the symptoms associated with OCPD. In some cases, medicines combined with individual therapeutic services is more effective than either treatment alone.

People with OCPD are more prone to become upset or angry in situations in which they are not able to maintain control of their physical or interpersonal environment. However, anger is typically not expressed directly but indirectly. Individual’s with OCPD may become angry at being passed up for a promotion, appear fine with the employer’s decision while at work, however when they get home may be explosive at being “overlooked” for a job they were “obviously qualified to do”. It should be noted people with OCPD also express affection in a highly controlled manner or are very uncomfortable in the presence of others who are emotionally expressive. Everyday functioning in relationships take on more a formal role rather than an informal and romantic role. Relationships tend to be more serious and rigid without carefree engagement. As a result of their actions they often appear aloof and stiff in situations in which others are engaging with each other, happy, smiling, or otherwise happy.

Unfortunately, many people with OCPD do not seek treatment until it begins to interfere with daily functioning or career goals. As a reminder, some of the primary symptoms of OCPD is overachievement, lack of warmth and engagement which can prevent or limit one’s ability to socialize and appropriately engage with others.

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