Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
(Also Known As: Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, Ocpd, Anankastic Personality Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD, Compulsion, Obsession)
(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)
What is Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder?
Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is a condition characterized by perfectionism, control, rigidity, and an overconcern with work at the expense of establishing close interpersonal relationships. An individual suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder often cannot relax because of his or her preoccupation with details, productivity, and rules. Individuals suffering from OCPD are often seen as stingy, stubborn, self-righteous, and uncooperative.1
According to the DSM-IV-TR, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is in the same category with avoidant and personality disorders in Cluster C. Common traits of people suffering from these disorders are anxiety and fearfulness. The ICD-10, which is the European version of DSM-IV-TR, categorizes OCPD as Anankastic Personality Disorder.
Individuals suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder conduct most of their daily tasks based on some rules and procedures. While their aim is to accomplish their tasks carefully and orderly, their perfectionist tendencies often overshadow their ability to accomplish their tasks. Likewise, people with OCPD have the tendency to be bossy and highly controlling with other people. Because they believe too much in following rules, they do not have any room for legal exceptions. They show courtesy to superiors they respect but are resistant to those they do not.
An individual suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder may exhibit a tendency to bring office work on vacations so as not to waste time and be relieved upon their return to work.
In addition, people with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder believe that their style of functioning is the “proper” way. This is the main reason for their resistance to change their beliefs. For them, what they believe in is universally accepted. Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is often confused with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, these are two distinct conditions. With the former, the factor that brings about anxiety is their dysfunctional philosophy while with the latter; the individual performs rituals in order to relieve anxiety.2
What Causes Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder?
To date, no single specific Cause of Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder has been identified. In the early years of Freudian psychoanalysis, however, it was believed that faulty parenting is a major factor that brings about the development of personality disorders. Recent studies have supported the importance of early life experiences, realizing that positive emotional development is determined by parental warmth and appropriate reaction to the needs of the child. This way, they will have security and will feel valued. People suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder did not get to experience warmth and love from their parents.
Although genetic factors are not well recorded, culture may have a vital role in the incidence of Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder. In societies governed by authoritarianism and bound by rules, OCPD is likely to develop. Likewise, religions and jobs that require exactness and adherence to rules can contribute to the development of Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder as well.
Researchers believe that Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder has a genetic connection and may be due to an imbalance in the brain chemistry of an individual. There is no exact cause of the disorder, although several factors such as head injuries, childbirth trauma, epilepsy, and other serious conditions are attributed to Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder.
What Are The Symptoms Associated with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder?
Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder is associated with a pervasive preoccupation with mental, behavioral, and emotional control of self and others. People suffering from OCPD are excessively conscientious. They exhibit poor problem solving skills and are highly inefficient. Their need for control and order is easily rattled by any changes in their schedule or problematic incidents.
The following qualities are also characteristic of an individual suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder:
Poor Decision Making Skills
An individual suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder has trouble making decisions. Their inability to determine correct decisions can be a source of anxiety for them. People with OCPD usually place a huge amount of pressure on their shoulders as well as on other people to avoid mistakes. The main philosophy of an individual with OCPD is to make a correct decision. The indecision of an individual with Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder can have drastic effects on their academic, interpersonal, and professional relationships.
An individual suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder is emotionally volatile. Effectively dealing with emotions can be a source of anxiety for the individual suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder. It is very common for an OCPD sufferer to display anger as a reaction to emotions.
Oftentimes, an individual suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder would do anything in order to live up to the high expectations they impose on themselves. As a result, they become depressed and disappointed whenever they fail to live to the standards they set for themselves. The depression and disappointment they feel can lead to the development of low self-esteem and inadequacy.
An individual suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder often engages in dichotomous thinking. For the patient, there are only two perspectives in life—good or bad. Everything that is conceived as pure and wholesome is valued.
In Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder, the individual aspires to avoid any imperfections or mistakes in accomplishing their tasks. Filling out forms may take longer than expected in their desire to ensure that nothing goes wrong. For them, committing mistakes would be considered a blemish in their reputation or integrity. There are instances when an individual with OCPD is rewarded for their aspiration for perfection. In those cases, they reach the top level of the corporate ladder because of their high standard and productivity.
Hoarding involves excessive saving or collection of items which are perceived as junk in such a way that it interferes in their life as well as other people. It is common to see hoarders stacking items on every vacant space or leasing additional area in order to accommodate the arrival of more items.
How Is Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder Diagnosed?
According to DSM-IV-TR, in order for an individual to be Diagnosed with Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder, they should possess at least four of the following characteristics:
- Excessive attention to details, order, bodily functions, lists, rules, or schedules in such a manner that the major aim of the activity is ignored.
- The patient’s desire for perfection impedes with their ability to accomplish a task.
- Too much devotion to work and productivity so that they have no more time for leisure and establishing friendships.
- The patient becomes too conscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible regarding morals, values, and ethical issues.
- The patient refuses to throw away worn-out or worthless items even if they have no sentimental value.
- The individual suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder is often hesitant to assign tasks or work with other people unless it subscribes to their method of doing things.
- An OCPD patient is often stubborn and rigid.
- Desire for perfection even in the littlest detail.
Likewise, Diagnosis of Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder is determined by a careful evaluation and proper assessment of the individual’s behavior. Aside from that, there should be evidence that the attitudes and behaviors related to Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder impeding the individual’s occupational and interpersonal functioning.
In Diagnosing Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, it should be distinguished from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Since some characteristics of OCPD are also present in other personality disorders, it is vital to rule them out first.
There are also cases wherein the behavior exhibited by the individual suffering from obsessive–compulsive disorder is a normal characteristic within a specific culture, occupation, or religion. To be diagnosed as a personality disorder, such behavior must be impeding the normal functioning of the patient.
It is worth noting that even though an individual may demonstrate any or all of the symptoms of a personality disorder; it is not considered one unless the individual is having difficulty maintaining a normal life because of these issues.
How Is Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder Treated?
Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder Treatment is important because individuals who suffer from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder not only lack openness and versatility in terms of performing their daily routines, but also in dealing with interpersonal relationships and expectations. Since the patient aspires for perfection and order, administering any type of treatment can be challenging for the patient. If the treatment approach does not meet the standards of the sufferer, it would most likely be rejected rather than tried.3
The main reason why individuals suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder seek treatment is because they no longer have the coping skills necessary to handle such overwhelming issues. Usually, the stress, pressure, and family problems increase, the underlying conditions will manifest themselves in their daily behaviors.
The aim of psychotherapy, in this case, is to provide short-term relief of the symptoms of Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder as well as providing support for the current coping mechanisms while incorporating new ones. Since the individual is detached from their emotional states and thoughts, the best form of treatment is to support the patient in describing situations and daily events as well as what their feelings were during these situations. There are times when the individual will not be able to recall their feelings during that time.
Confining an individual in a medical facility as a Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder Treatment is rarely needed unless severe stress or traumatic events aggravate the compulsions in such a way that the normal activities of the patient are being affected or there is potential danger to the patient. However, hospitalization may likewise be needed when the patient’s obsessions do not permit them from performing their daily routines, confining them in beds or suffering from compulsions.
In most instances, medications for Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder are not indicated unless the client is likewise experiencing a clearly isolated Axis I diagnosis. Prozac and SSRIs have been approved for treating individuals suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder and may give some relief to individuals suffering from this condition. However, long-term use will not be correct or helpful.
In lieu of medical assistance, there are self-help treatments that the individual suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder can consider. They can participate in support groups that can be a source of emotional as well as social support. Through these support groups, the individual with OCPD can exercise their freedom and stability.
Current Research on Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
Recent Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder Research revealed that Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder could be treated using psychological intervention. In a random control trial of 81 patients suffering from Cluster C personality disorders, 70% showed major improvements in the areas of distress and social functioning after undergoing 2 varieties of dynamic psychotherapy. There were major gains after a follow up study was conducted eighteen months later.4
In another uncontrolled study involving 38 patients suffering from Avoidant and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, the participants involved in the study showed considerable improvement in the areas of distress, interpersonal problems, and personality functioning. A recent randomized controlled study, meanwhile, showed the effectiveness of brief psychodynamic therapy in treating the symptoms of OCPD as well as in the areas of personality functioning and interpersonal problems.
Likewise, in a study focusing on functional impairment in patients with various personality disorders, it was revealed that impairment at work was more associated with Schizotypal and Borderline Personality Disorders rather than in Obsessive Compulsive and avoidant personality disorders. It was likewise revealed that 90% of patients suffering from Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder demonstrated difficulty in at least one area.
Incidence and Prevalence of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder is prevalent in 1% of the general population and in 3% – 10% of psychiatric outpatients. Males are two times more likely to experience Obsessive–Compulsive Personality Disorder. This condition usually begins during early adulthood and is a chronic condition.5
A study conducted in Chicago revealed that almost one out of five young adults in the United States is diagnosed with personality disorders, such as Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorders and anti-social conditions, which can impede daily life. Such kind of disorders ranks second behind substance abuse.6
According to the study, 8% of young adults (students and non-students) are more likely to have Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. In the study, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was not studied separately but was grouped in anxiety disorders that are common in 12% of college-aged participants in the study.
Coping with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
Coping with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder can be difficult. Usually, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is associated with other personality disorders. Likewise, it can be a debilitating and challenging disorder. Here are some tips on how you can deal and cope with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.
Not being in the medical profession does not exempt you from learning about your condition. There is various literature that is available to you. Check out some literature in your local library or bookstore. The Internet is likewise a good place for seeking information about Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Being informed can be your first line of defense against the condition.
With the condition you are in right now, having the support of your family and friends can provide you with a source of strength and encouragement. It is therefore vital to build, develop, and nurture relationships.
Join Support Groups
Aside from your family and friends, there are other people who are concerned with helping you overcome Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. There are many organizations and agencies which are geared towards educating and informing you about OCPD.
Practice Self-Help Techniques
Learning relaxation and stress control procedures can go a long way in your effort to overcome Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing are some popular methods of relaxation that you can incorporate in your life.