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Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)


Updated June 04, 2010

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) looks entirely different from OCD at first glance. The DSM-IV describes it this way:

"A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
  • Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
  • Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
  • Is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
  • Is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
  • Is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
  • Is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
  • Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
  • Shows rigidity and stubbornness"

Like all personality disorders, OCPD can be thought of as an extreme exaggeration of a certain personality style. Many of us likely know someone who is somewhat like this. It's only a personality disorder when it is so extreme that it gets in the way of daily life.

If you look hard, you can see why OCD and OCPD have similar names. Both involve the tendency to obsess and to act compulsively. OCD is an illness that can develop at different points in life. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder must have begun by early adulthood. It refers to a deeply embedded personality style, rather than to a set of acute symptoms that get in the way.

Having some obsessive-compulsive personality traits can pay off. Students and employees who are "excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships" can be very productive. This productivity is rewarded by good grades, pay raises, and advancement at work. Other aspects of life can suffer, however, if things are not in balance.

Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

Psychotherapy and medications are used to treat OCD and trichotillomania. Psychotherapy can also be helpful to treat obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (with medications sometimes used as well).

If the above symptoms sound like your life, and if they are getting in the way, consider consulting a mental health professional in your area.


American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC, 1994

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