Friday, February 26, 2010

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

In the realm of personality disorders, the DSM-IV TR lists a total of nine. Some of them are well known and some of them are not. The ones that most people are familiar with are the anti-social types which are commonly called serial killers or psychopaths. Narcissistic and Borderline Personality disorders are becoming more well known in our day and age as well. However, there is another disorder that is worth noting, considering the perfectionism that is becoming so standard within our culture. The one I am speaking of is Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.
There are no personality disorders that are ever diagnosed in children, however personality disorders are characterized as being pervasive over the lifetime. What that means is that even though the disorder may be recognized in its total extent once the person is 18 or older, in my opinion, when you look back over the person's early life as a child or adolescent, there are indicators there that can point toward these disorders in later life. For example, no psychologist or counselor would look at a child who abuses animals, mistreats insects etc and say they are serial killers, that would be inappropriate. However, when you look back over the lives of known serial killers, you will more than likely find that type of behavior. Individuals who are diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder usually have childhoods that are filled with problematic behavior, exaggeration and mis-perception, but it needs to develop over time in order to see the course develop. It is the same way with OCPD. The person with this disorder is very rigid, preoccupied with rules and is unable to engage in the spirit or principle of a thing...they only see the rule. That doesn't mean that every child who is preoccupied with cleanliness and rules is going to grow up with this disorder, but it can mean that parents should pay attention to this behavior and do their best to bring a sense of balance to their child's life. puts it this way:
"Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is a condition characterized by a chronic preoccupation with rules, orderliness, and control. This disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviors become persistent and disabling. The individual with this disorder often becomes upset when control is lost. The individual then either emotionally withdraws from these situations, or becomes very angry. The individual usually expresses affection in a highly controlled or stilted fashion and may be very uncomfortable in the presence of others who are emotionally expressive. The person often has difficulty expressing tender feelings, and rarely pays compliments.
The individual's chronic preoccupation with rules, orderliness, and control seems to prevent many of the complications (e.g., drug abuse, reckless sex, financial irresponsibility) that are common to some other personality disorders. Occupationally, the individual tends to be a high achiever with an excessive devotion to work. However, inflexibility, perfectionism, preoccupation with detail, and inability to delegate work may seriously interfere with the individual's ability to complete a given task. The individual experiences occupational difficulties when confronted with new situations that demand flexibility and compromise."
OCPD differs from Obsessive Compulsive disorder in the following ways:
1. OCD is an illness with symptoms that change in severity over time, while OCPD reflects an overly rigid personality style that does not change much over a person’s lifetime.
2. OCPD is not associated with the obsessions and compulsions that are so prominent in OCD. Although people with OCD and OCPD might both carry out repetitive behaviors, the underlying motive is very different. While someone with OCD might repeatedly write out lists or organize items around the home to keep a catastrophe from taking place, someone with OCPD would be more likely to do these activities to increase their efficiency or productivity.
3. While people with OCD usually want to get rid of their symptoms, it is not uncommon for people with OCPD to see nothing wrong with their behavior and to feel that “other people” are the problem. Likewise, although people with OCD will usually seek help for the distress caused by their obsession or compulsions, individuals with OCPD will usually seek treatment because of conflict between themselves and family and friends related to their need to have others conform to their way of doing things.
4. People with OCPD often have very rigid views on “right versus wrong,” and this rigidity may extend to spending habits; people with OCPD are often described as miserly. Neither of these is a defining characteristic of OCD.
5. In comparison to those with OCD, people with OCPD tend to be more ruled by perfectionism and have a higher need for order and control in both their personal and professional lives. It is not uncommon for individuals with OCPD to become irritated by others who do not value order, perfectionism and exactness to the same extent that they do. Because of this perfectionism, it is not uncommon for people with OCPD to be overly devoted to work.
(comparison taken from
This particular disorder can be categorized in a nutshell by understanding that people with OCPD live entirely in their heads, often to avoid the pain of life that is seen as out of control. They are preoccupied with excellence, perfection and production, to the extent that the feelings of those around them are insignificant. Their connection to their hearts has been mostly cut off which gets in the way of deep, intimate relationships. As with most of the personality disorders, feelings are "done" rather than "felt". Often, individuals who are Christians come into counseling because they don't understand why their relationship with God seems so distant. They view others who seem to be able to hear God speak to them, feel His presence and have a productive prayer life and may wonder why they can't "do that".
When you look at the world with the understanding of OCPD, you may see some different things. This is often a very lonely existence, made up by working harder and harder at production and excellence. The question then begs to be asked, does our society...the one which places SO MUCH emphasis on beauty, perfection and success...does it create and feed disorders such as this? What do you think?


Parag said...

Those who have obsessive compulsive personality disorder may accept their personality characteristics of being unusually detail-oriented and exacting without anxiety and even regard them as beneficial.

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