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Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

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In-depth look at Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder - signs and symptoms, diagnosis, causes, and treatment.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder that shares some symptoms but is more extreme and disabling. OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by the presence of intrusive or disturbing thoughts, impulses, images or ideas (obsessions), accompanied by repeated attempts to suppress these thoughts through the performance of irrational and ritualistic behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). It is unusual but possible, however, for a patient to suffer from both disorders, especially in extreme cases of hoarding behavior. In some reported cases of animal hoarding, the people involved appear to have symptoms of both OCD and OCPD.

A person with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder tends to be very rigid, controlled, constricted, preoccupied with regulation, orderliness, perfection, things of that type. There is a wish for predictability. There is a resistance to any kind of change. If this person is a boss, they are likely to be a micromanager and have difficulty in delegating things over to other people. But they may be very hard workers. Even workaholics display obsessive-compulsive features.

A person with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder will have a striking inability to adapt to new routines and have such an eye for detail and perfectionism that they will rarely complete any task on time, if at all.

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This means that qualities usually highly regarded - the ability to work reliably and to a high standard - become paralysing. It's easy for such a person to reflect any criticism outwards, saying that they're not understood and nobody appreciates the importance of getting a job done, not only properly, but in the proper way.

What are the signs and symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

Obsessive-Compulsives are constantly drawing up and dreaming up lists, rules, orders, rituals, and organizational schemes.

In-depth look at Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder - signs and symptoms, diagnosis, causes, and treatment.Obsessions and compulsions are about control of self (mental) and others (interpersonal). People with the Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) are concerned (worried and anxious) about maintaining control and about being seen to be maintaining it. In other words, they are also preoccupied with the symbolic aspects and representations (with the symbols) of control.

Inevitably, OCPDs are perfectionists and rigidly orderly or organized. They lack flexibility, openness and efficiency. They tend to see the world and others as at best whimsical and arbitrary and at worst menacing and hostile. They are constantly worried that something is or may go wrong. In this respect, they share some traits with the paranoid and the schizotypal.

It is easy to spot an Obsessive-Compulsive. They are constantly drawing up and dreaming up lists, rules, orders, rituals, and organizational schemes. They demand from themselves and from others perfection and an inordinate attention to minutia. Actually, they place greater value on compiling and following rigid schedules and checklists than on the activity itself or its goals. Simply put, Obsessive-Compulsives are unable to see the forest for the trees.

This insistence on in-depth scrutiny of every detail frequently results in paralysis.

OCPDs are workaholics, but not because they like to work. Ostensibly, they sacrifice family life, leisure, and friendships on the altar of productivity and output. Really, they are convinced that only they can get the job done in the right manner. Yet, they are not very efficacious or productive.

Socially, OCPDs are sometimes resented and rejected. This is because some OCPDs are self-righteous to the point of bigotry.

At Open Site Encyclopedia, author Sam Vaknin writes:

"They are so excessively conscientious and scrupulous and so unempathically and inflexibly tyrannical that it is difficult to maintain a long-term relationship with them. They regard their impossibly high moral, work, and ethical standards as universal and binding. Hence their inability to delegate tasks to others, unless they can micromanage the situation and control it minutely to fit their expectations. Consequently, they trust no one and are difficult to deal with and stubborn.

OCPDs are so terrified of change that they rarely discard acquired but now useless objects, change the outlay of furniture at home, relocate, deviate from the familiar route to work, tweak an itinerary, or embark on anything spontaneous. They also find it difficult to spend money even on essentials. This tallies with their view of the world as hostile, unpredictable, and "bad".

List of Signs and Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

  • Excessive concern with order, rules, schedules and lists

  • Perfectionism, often so pronounced that you can't complete tasks because your standards are impossible to meet

  • Inability to throw out even broken, worthless objects

  • Inability to share responsibility with others

  • Inflexibility about the "right" ethics, ideas and methods

  • Compulsive devotion to work at the expense of recreation and relationships

  • Financial stinginess

  • Discomfort with emotions and aspects of personal relationships that you can't control