Obsessive compulsive personality disorder


Are you someone who believes in being organized and strives for perfectionism. Do people sometimes see you as rigid or “stuck up” ? Do you have problems with flexibility and openness? Does your perfectionism interfere with task completion ? Do you get restless when you cant do things your way?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions you need to learn about obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)!

A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates from social and cultural norm. This often leads to distress in social, personal and occupational functioning. Read about personality disorders here.

Persons with OCPD may display the following features.

  • They have feelings of excessive doubt and caution and often defer decision making until a plan is in place.
  • They are preoccupied by their own rules and lists, and often expect close ones to follow these rules.
  • They are often  careful, thorough, and extremely attentive to details in any task they undertake, and sometimes become preoccupied with productivity or success.
  • Excessive pedantry in regard to social and personal rules.
  • They are often seen as rigid and stubborn.
  • There is often an insistence that others submit to his/her way of thinking/working.
  • They may have persistent distressing thoughts or images.
  • They tend to be critical of themselves and often have trouble dealing with setbacks and failures.

So what if I have an obsessive personality ?

  • You are more prone to become upset or angry when you are not in control of a certain person or situation.
  • You will have difficulty prioritizing tasks and may end up doing nothing.
  • You may come off as self righteous and arrogant.
  • Your personal/occupational relationships can suffer.
  • Your life (people you meet, places you visit or the things you do) is severely restricted by rules that make no sense to anyone but you.
  • People with OCPD often externalize, blaming other people or circumstances when they cannot control things.
  • The worst of all, you might end up beating yourself up when you are unable to do things to your satisfaction.

What causes OCPD ?

One’s personality develops as a result of an interplay between genetic and environmental factors. Any behavior that  you exhibited or observed as a child or adolescent which was effective in reducing distress or in increasing reward is hard coded into your brain as your personality. However the onset of perfectionism can be understood by the advantages it brought to the holder as a child. In some cases, If perfectionism was highly rewarded and an unconcern to rules was consistently punished, you are more likely to be stuck to perfectionism.

Is perfectionism really that bad ?

Perfectionism is something that is often rewarded at school and at home when we are younger. BUT, sometimes perfectionism drives life out of gear, and is no longer rewarding. Imagine staying up all night,  giving up time with loved ones and being unable to start or complete a task for the sake of being perfect. Doesn’t seem ideal, does it ?

What are my options ?

Awareness and Insight ! is the first thing that one needs, in order to change  a few personality traits. You need to acknowledge your distress for any sort of therapy to work. Every thought and act needs to observed with attention and awareness, and automatic reactions to automatic thoughts need to go.

Take help ! Talk to a mental health professional.

Cognitive behavioral therapy – Which focuses on modifying beliefs that lead to automatic actions by means of behavioral experiments and didactic discussions.

Mindfulness based therapy – Helps in rooting oneself to the present and in making changes to one’s personality thereby making life less stressful and more enjoyable.

Medications – Drugs may sometimes be prescribed for certain co morbid conditions such as depression or marked anxiety.

One does not have to suffer through life because of poor coping and an dysfunctional personality, though it may seem difficult, it is quite possible to modify personality traits provided adequate time and effort is given. Any skilled mental health professional would be able to help you out with OCPD.

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