Obsessive Compulsive Personality DisorderThe concept of “OCD” has made its way into everyday conversation and is often used to describe certain quirks of personality. For example, you’ve probably heard someone say something like, “I’m so OCD about the way my desk is organized,” when they like things arranged a certain way.

But for someone struggling with obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), the need for order goes well beyond a preference for neatness in certain areas of their lives. If you or a loved one obsesses about perfection to the point that it’s interfering with life activities, you need real information and solutions — not just internet humor.

Here you will find everything you need to know about obsessive compulsive personality disorder, including what it is, how it differs from OCD, what your treatment options are, and how to get help if you need it.

What Is Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder?

First, obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is not the same as OCD. According to the Merck Manual, OCPD is

a pervasive preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control (with no room for flexibility or efficiency) that ultimately interferes with completing a task.

It’s important to note that a personality disorder is a diagnosable mental illness and goes well beyond simple perfectionism. People with OCPD are so obsessed with doing things a certain way that they will miss deadlines, avoid working with others, and allow relationships to deteriorate while they focus on following the steps they believe are necessary for success.

For example, a person with OCPD could be so concerned with every grammatical detail of an essay that they fail to turn in the paper on time and receive a poor grade. This inability to “see the forest for the trees” is so pervasive that it actually leads to failure rather than success.

Unlike obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), people with OCPD don’t experience repeated intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that distress them. They also don’t try to control their thoughts with receptive actions (compulsions), such as excessive hand washing or other rituals.

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Signs and Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

Many people with OCPD are unable to see a problem with their behavior, because they so strongly believe that their way is the “right” way to accomplish something. Often, family and friends are the ones who want to seek help because their relationships are strained by the inflexible perfectionism of the person with OCPD.

In addition to having a “preoccupation with order, perfectionism, and control,” people with OCPD exhibit four or more of the following signs:

  • Obsession with lists, schedules and rules
  • Perfectionism that interferes with completing a task
  • Preference for work over leisure or social connections
  • Inflexibility, particularly around moral and ethical values
  • A tendency toward hoarding
  • Refusal to delegate tasks or work in groups
  • Reluctance to spend money, preferring to save for potential disasters
  • General stubbornness and rigidity

Treatment Options for Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for people who suffer from OCPD:

  • Individual Therapy: It’s also known as talk therapy. Someone with OCPD will benefit from regular appointments with a therapist to talk through strong feelings and work to curb maladaptive behaviors.
  • Group Therapy: Group settings allow people struggling with similar personality disorders to feel validated and not so alone. They can also work on finding solutions to specific issues with the help of others.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy teaches people with OCPD to face fears and identify distorted thinking. There’s also heavy emphasis on learning skills to cope with perfectionism and replacing antisocial or unproductive behaviors with better choices.
  • Medication: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may help reduce rigidity and allow people with OCPD to become more receptive to talk therapy. SSRIs may also help patients who are dealing with anxiety and depression in addition to OCPD.
  • Mindfulness Exercises: Mindfulness mediation and breathing exercises can help relax the body and reduce the sense of urgency that often makes people with OCPD feel so desperately tied to their rigid methods.

How to Get Help for Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

People with OCPD don’t have to resign themselves to an endless struggle. If you think you may have OCPD, getting an official diagnosis is an important first step. From there, you can work with your mental health provider to develop a personalized treatment plan, as most people do best using a combination of the treatments listed above.

Transformations Treatment Center takes a holistic approach to mental health treatment that puts the individual front and center. Contact Transformations today to learn more about how to overcome OCPD and get on with your life.

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