Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

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Do you know someone who obsesses over minute things and holds others and oneself to unattainable standards? Or perhaps you are that person? Here are some tips for managing OCPD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

Being organized, tenacious, or diligent is not exceptional. These personality qualities may even prove useful in some circumstances. But when such characteristics are overused, they can degrade a person’s level of physical, emotional, and social well-being.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) patients exhibit an obsession with order, control, and perfection. Their obsession is so intense that it impairs them. Imagine a student who is so preoccupied with minute details that they don’t finish an assignment. Or picture a person whose moral standards are so rigid that they have a hard time understanding other people’s viewpoints.

OCPD sufferers might not be aware of their illness or recognize the need for change. In reality, they could think that it’s other people who need to change.

People with OCPD often expect others to live up to their high standards. For instance, a spouse with OCPD would demand that his wife adheres to a rigid approach before allowing her to assist plant a garden. The spouse might become extremely judgmental if his partner breaks any regulations.

It should come as no surprise that this strict way of thinking can make it difficult to sustain relationships or adjust to changing situations. As partnerships end, loneliness and melancholy may set in. The potential of the individual with OCPD may be limited since they avoid or give up tasks where they don’t instantly succeed. Additionally, a relentless pursuit of perfection can result in anxiety, eating disorders, as well as other physical and mental health issues.

Do you believe you or someone you know demonstrates these symptoms? Find out more about the symptoms of OCPD, as well as how to treat the illness on your own.

The Causes And Signs Of OCPD

One of the most prevalent personality disorders is OCPD. According to research, OCPD affects between 3 and 8% of the population and is more prevalent among elderly adults. This personality disorder is characterized by a recurring pattern of conduct that frequently begins in adolescence or early adulthood.

There isn’t just one precise cause of OCPD, according to experts. But the study indicates that a person’s upbringing could matter. For instance, growing up in a setting with rigid guidelines and severe penalties may cause someone to become fixated on carrying out tasks “the proper way.” Additionally, OCPD can have a genetic component, making it inheritable.

  • The inability to complete work due to perfectionism is one of the signs and symptoms of OCPD.
  • Obsession with keeping everything organized by employing schedules, rules, and lists.
  • Refusal to provide tasks to someone who could handle them differently.
  • Job commitment that results in relationship neglect
  • Saving money for potential catastrophes
  • Too mindful of morals, values, and ethics.
  • Notwithstanding the absence of sentimental value, a refusal to part with useless goods, such as scuffed shoes.
  • Inflexible and very obstinate nature.


A person must exhibit at least four of the eight symptoms described above in order to receive an OCPD diagnosis. The symptoms must be a part of a chronic pattern that started in adolescence.

Screening questions that let the patient report on their own behavior will probably be used in the diagnosing process. An interview follows the screening. A mental health professional can accurately diagnose a patient using information from peers, friends, and family in addition to the patient’s own self-reported data.

Other potential causes for the conduct will need to be ruled out by a mental health specialist. For instance, a different illness known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can also feature an obsession with organization and hoarding.

Making the distinction between OCPD conduct and “normal” behavior can also be challenging. Some issues to think about are:

  • Is this individual extremely committed to their job? Or do they just seek more compensation in order to maintain their financial security?
  • Is the person a stickler for detail? Or are they only meticulous and prepared to take shortcuts when necessary?
  • Is the individual a control freak? Or do they simply desire a reasonable level of order in their home?
  • Is the object having trouble getting rid of things because they have sentimental value?

You might hesitate to get a diagnosis if you think you have OCPD. Maybe you believe that your way of living is more beneficial than detrimental. People with OCPD who seek a diagnosis frequently do so at the urging of a close friend or family member. Therefore, a professional diagnosis may provide clarity and a way forward if your way of living appears to be harming your relationships.

Associated Disorders

Many people with OCPD also have additional physical and mental health issues. It’s crucial to handle each problem concurrently when there are several illnesses present since they may influence one another. These co-occurring disorders include, among others:

Eating problems. People with OCPD may be driven by perfectionism to set impossible goals, even at the expense of their own health. These diseases may co-occur with OCPD because anorexia and bulimia nervosa sufferers exhibit the same level of perfectionism as persons with OCPD.

Mood disturbances. According to research, OCPD is linked to mood disorders, including depression. Depressive symptoms may be exacerbated by workplace burnout, difficulties interacting with others, and failure to meet one’s own high standards. Suicidal ideation has also been connected to OCPD features.

Physical issues: According to one study, OCPD characteristics are related to heart disease and hypertension. According to other studies, there may be a connection between OCPD and arthritis and stroke.

Additional personality disorders: Multiple personality disorders may cause a person problems. Dependent, histrionic, borderline, avoidant, or narcissistic personality disorders may also be identified in OCPD patients.

Anxiety conditions. People with OCPD may experience anxiousness in addition to trying to keep everything in order and flawless. OCPD may co-occur with anxiety disorders such as panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. The two disorders are frequently confused with one another, and OCD is an additional anxiety illness that may co-occur with OCPD.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and OCPD are distinct conditions despite having similar names. Obsessions are unwelcome, worrisome thoughts that OCD sufferers deal with, and they feel forced to execute ritualized acts to calm themselves. As an illustration, someone with OCD could constantly wash their hands out of fear of germs. The individual is frequently conscious of the irrationality of their impulses and worries.

Compared to OCD sufferers, OCPD patients are less likely to be aware of their condition. Usually, they aren’t motivated by intrusive ideas or particular, recurrent acts. They crave order and perfection more broadly, which they perceive as being a part of their own established ideals. Additionally, studies demonstrate that those with OCPD are less impulsive and more ready to postpone rewards than those with OCD.

OCD Versus OCPD Characteristics

features of OCD

You keep washing the kitchen counter clean because intrusive, worrying thoughts about tainted food are bothering you. You’re conscious of how time-consuming this hobby is, and the absurdity of it upsets you.

To assuage the worry that anything could be broken, misplaced, or left behind, you continually examine and rearrange the contents of your suitcase.

You continuously check to see if you’ve offended anyone. You have obsessive worries that you could unintentionally offend others.

Characteristics of OCPD

The kitchen counter is something you often clean because you want it to be immaculate. Everyone else in your family finds the activity inconvenient, but you feel it is necessary for the kitchen to be clean and organized.

You make a thorough inventory of everything you want to pack and which bag it should go in. You become so preoccupied with creating the list that you run out of time to pack. You talk slowly in order to prevent misunderstandings. You believe that everyone should talk with this level of caution.

Although OCPD is more frequent than OCD, between 15 and 28 percent of OCD sufferers may also have OCPD. Someone who has both diseases may be more distressed and have more severe symptoms. People with OCPD tend to be obstinate. Thus, they could be less receptive to therapy. However, their obsession with perfection could be useful if they accept therapy. They may, for instance, follow their self-help techniques more carefully.

OCPD Self-help

There are several actions you may take if you or a loved one has OCPD in order to reduce some of the disorder’s most detrimental symptoms. Many of these techniques entail reducing the intense urge to manage every situation and complete every activity perfectly.

Tip 1: Manage Stress

Manage stress People with OCPD may feel as though they have a full schedule and that the chores they have to do must be completed perfectly. Furthermore, the paralyzing dread of failure might cause delay. Days that are stressful and frustrating outbursts may result from this.

You may control your stress and elevate your mood with the use of relaxation techniques. They could also encourage you to consider and accept situations beyond your control. Here are some techniques that might be useful:

Try practicing mindful breathing. This straightforward meditation technique includes paying attention to your inhales and exhales. Long, deep breaths can help you stay anchored in the present and reduce your stress reaction.

Regular exercise. Endorphins, chemicals that foster a sensation of well-being, are released when you exercise. Yoga and tai chi, which mix physical movement with focused breathing, can be particularly beneficial.

Take time to rest. Even if you consider yourself to be a workaholic, it’s crucial to get adequate rest each night. In addition to increasing stress levels, sleep deprivation can make it difficult to function well at work.

Eat nutritious food. Your body may be more vulnerable to stress as a result of poor dietary habits. As you organize your daily routine, give eating nutritious meals a top priority.

OCPD patient assistance in stress management

Remind your OCPD-afflicted roommate that stress management is beneficial for everyone if you want to urge them to attempt the following techniques. Instead of viewing it as a team activity that is just intended to “repair” your lives, frame it as a team activity that can better both of your lives. Spend some time in meditation with them, or exercise and maintain a good diet with them.

Tip 2. Exercise Self-compassion

It goes without saying that if you have OCPD, you hold yourself to a high standard. You could become angry with both yourself and your friends and family when those expectations aren’t satisfied. You could also have the propensity to exaggerate the defects you detect in others and in yourself.

Accepting your limitations—and those of people around you—is the first step toward developing self-compassion. In spite of your greatest attempts, you’ll err and miss stuff. Don’t see your flaws as a sign that you failed. Instead of allowing self-hatred to fester, consider them as chances for personal development, and always remember to forgive yourself.

Modifying One’s Self-Talk

Paying attention to your self-talk is one more step toward developing self-compassion. When you speak negatively to yourself, you say things like “I’m such a fool” or “I’m not good enough.” These types of thinking might make you depressed and distort how you see the world.

When you catch yourself employing negative self-talk, try to counter it with neutral or uplifting thoughts. Instead of criticizing yourself, use positive self-talk. Try to soothe or empower yourself as if you were speaking to a loved one.

Assisting A Person With Ocpd Self-Compassion Exercises

If you live with a person who has OCPD, compliment them on counteracting their self-critical thoughts. For instance, if they didn’t beat their personal jogging record, point out how remarkable their present record is. Tell them that there is always room for improvement. This may aid in preventing “all or nothing” thinking and serve as a reminder to practice self-compassion.

Tip 3. Control Your Emotions

According to a 2015 study that examined emotional functioning in OCPD patients, the illness is characterized by high levels of negative feelings, such as frustration, as well as challenges with emotion recognition and acceptance.

Therefore, wanting to suppress some feelings, especially unpleasant ones like shame, anger, or fear, is common among people with OCPD. Even when other individuals exhibit such sentiments, you could feel uneasy. But over time, holding up your emotions can also result in problems like irrational outbursts of anger and depression periods. Here are some strategies for improving emotional control:

Recognize your feelings. Instead of suppressing your feelings, learn to name them. You might start by becoming aware of the bodily manifestations of your emotions. Your jaw may tighten when you’re furious, and you can feel yourself sag when you’re sad.

Embrace your feelings. This might be challenging, especially if you take pleasure in maintaining your composure. The important thing to remember is that everyone feels a variety of emotions, and it’s natural to experience everything from grief to rage to humiliation. The presence of these feelings does not equate to weakness.

Resolve issues. Decide what is upsetting you. Maybe you screwed up at work and are upset with yourself for not paying attention to details. Is there anything you can do to deal with the problem’s underlying causes? Or perhaps you’re feeling worn out and down after a fight with your partner. How can the divide between the two of you be healed?

Review the circumstances. Not every issue can be resolved. Sometimes all you need to do is accept and reassess the circumstance. Consider the scenario where you are running late and cannot fit in your daily run. Does it really matter if you missed this workout in the big picture? Your body could have needed the rest, nonetheless. Reevaluating the situation might help you put it in perspective and prevent you from overreacting.

Aiding A Person With OCPD To Control Their Emotions

Additionally, you may go above and above by creating a safe space for them to vent to you. You can urge your loved one to apply the strategies above. Ask questions, express empathy, and demonstrate active listening. While you shouldn’t try to dismiss their worries as “no big issue,” you may gently encourage them to reevaluate the circumstance.

Tip 4: Ask for Assistance

Be prepared to face two potentially upsetting facts if you have OCPD: You can’t accomplish everything by yourself, and you have blind spots. Make touch with self-help organizations or internet discussion boards where individuals discuss their OCPD journeys. You may discover more about the disorder’s various effects on people thanks to this. Additionally, you’ll discover how others deal with the drawbacks of OCPD.

Encouraging A Person With OCPD To Seek Assistance

If you are close to someone who has OCPD, be ready for them to fight any suggestion that they should change or get better. They might reflect on their behavior, though, if you gently persuade them to attend OCPD self-help organizations. They could be more open to hearing from others who share their obsessions with order and perfection.

Another tactic is to emphasize symptoms other than OCPD, such as sadness, work burnout, anxiety, or irritability, as reasons to get therapy. Use reasoning to persuade them by giving specific instances of how various characteristics affect your connection.

Effects of OCPD on Relationships

If you’re dating an OCPD person, you could find it difficult to deal with their constant desire for control. Perhaps they always insist on organizing every aspect of your trip. Another possibility is that they insist on unique cleaning methods and schedules for each area in the house. You may have become used to leaving disagreements or believing that their work comes first over you.

Furthermore, if you have OCPD, you may find it upsetting that those around you have differing standards. Perhaps your partner or roommate doesn’t maintain the space as neat as you would want. Or maybe they aren’t as reliable or cost-conscious as you are.

People with OCPD can have long-lasting, fulfilling relationships with others despite all of these potential obstacles. Use the following tactics to maintain peace whether you, your loved one or both have OCPD:

Be Less Focused On Winning

A person with OCPD may find this especially difficult since they may have a great need to be correct. Even people without OCPD, though, could have trouble with this. When arguing, try your best to set aside your ego and focus on finding solutions as opposed to trying to “win” the debate.

Even if you both occasionally need to pause to collect your thoughts, always communicate politely and thoughtfully. Make use of “I” expressions to convey your viewpoint. Avoid blaming others by utilizing the “you” phrase. When necessary, apologize without holding back.

Respect One Another

A person with OCPD can often easily get into the habit of being too critical. The person without OCPD might also fall into a similar pattern by concentrating solely on the rigidity and negative traits of their friend or partner.

Keep in mind to express your appreciation for each other’s qualities like dependability and work ethic. Tell the individual how they’ve made your life better, whether it’s through their emotional support or their household-related efforts. This contributes to a feeling of security.

Think Positively About Your Mate

People with OCPD may have excellent intentions despite a propensity for being domineering. Additionally, they are probably struggling with thoughts of worry or powerlessness when they express irritation or impatience. Recognize such emotions and inquire about what you can do to assist. It’s crucial to acknowledge the other person’s good intentions if you have OCPD. Although their desire for perfection may not be as great as yours, none of you will ever be faultless.

Self-Care Is Important

Being more aggressive could be necessary if you want to have a relationship with someone who has OCPD. Be specific about the expectations that are excessive. Let your loved one know, for instance, if you think their standards for cleanliness are ridiculous.

Do your best to reach a compromise and resist the urge to go above and beyond. Recognize that you don’t have to operate in accordance with their methods.

Couples counseling might be beneficial if a romantic relationship isn’t working. But if your spouse is aggressive or won’t make changes, you might have to concede that the relationship isn’t right now.

If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one about helping someone with a borderline personality disorder.