What do you think of when you hear the term Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder? Something that might come to mind is a very similar disorder, known as OCD. Those with OCD experience obsessive, triggering thoughts that significantly disrupt their daily life and cause them to perform ritualistic actions. While many may have conceptions about OCD, it is still a widely known and discussed mental disorder. But what about OCPD? What exactly is the difference between the two?
OCPD is “characterized by a pervasive preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control (with no room for flexibility) that ultimately slows or interferes with completing a task” (Skodol, 2019). Therefore, those with OCPD strictly focus on order and needing things to be in their control, whereas those who suffer from OCD can have symptoms that manifest a larger variety of ways.
Personality disorders are generally defined as “pervasive, enduring patterns of perceiving, reacting, and relating that cause significant distress or functional impairment” (Skodol, 2019). Someone with OCPD experiences a need for perfectionism and order that significantly impairs their daily functionality. Of course, many people struggle with the desire for perfection, but OCPD is clinically diagnosed when this perfectionism significantly impacts a person’s work and social life.
Those with OCPD “are excessively dedicated to work and productivity; their dedication is not motivated by financial necessity. As a result, leisure activities and relationships are neglected” (Skodol, 2019). Though we live in a culture that glorifies financial and career success, it’s incredibly important for one’s own mental health to create a balance between work, social activities, and hobbies. The need for perfection causes people with OCPD to prioritize work over all else; while this might have positive effects in terms of climbing the corporate ladder, it is ultimately detrimental in the long run.
But how do people with OCPD receive help? The treatment for OCPD is largely the same as for any personality disorder; this treatment is known as psychotherapy, in which “clinicians try to identify interpersonal problems as they occur in the patient’s life…and provide skills to develop new, better ways of reacting” (Skodol, 2019). Essentially, what this means is that those with OCPD—if they desire to receive treatment for their disorder and hopefully better their interpersonal lives—should consistently attend therapy and openly discuss their problems with a therapist; their therapist will be able to identify the source of these problems and help them alter their behavior.
The problem lies in the very rigidity that exists as a symptom of OCPD. Because of their sense of stubbornness and unwillingness to change, people with OCPD may not want to admit that their perfectionist behavior is significantly hindering their daily life; they might suffer in silence for far too long. This is why it’s so important to raise awareness about personality disorders such as OCPD; the more aware people are of what OCPD is and whether they might have it, the more likely they will be to acquire the help that they truly need in order to better their mental health and interpersonal livelihood.
Savvy Psychologist, & Hendriksen, E. (2019, April 11). OCD vs. OCPD: 5 Differences. Quick and Dirty Tips. https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/mental-health/ocd-vs-ocpd-5-differences
Skodol, A. (2019) Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) – Psychiatric Disorders. Merck Manuals Professional Edition. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/personality-disorders/obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder-ocpd