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What is Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)?

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Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a form of personality disorder that is estimated to affect around 1% of the American population, with men twice as likely to develop the disorder than women. The exact cause of OCPD is not understood but it is thought that children growing up in severely authoritative environments may be more prone to the condition. In addition, there may be a hereditary element to the condition.

Characteristics of OCPD

  • Abnormal need for order and an inability to be flexible over how a particular thing should be done
  • Strict preference for laws, rules and regulations
  • Inability and unwillingness to relinquish responsibilities to others

Symptoms of OCPD that help in diagnosis

  • Fixation with rules and details and adherence to ethical and moral codes
  • Fixation with lists
  • Perfectionism to the point it interferes with completing tasks
  • Excessive preoccupation with work to the point of ignoring personal, social and familial needs
  • Excessive hoarding
  • Excessive caprice, miserliness and frugality
  • Strained relationships with spouse, family and co-workers

Diagnosis of OCPD is made when a person is demonstrating a number of the above symptoms which may be leading to impaired familial, occupational, social or emotional relationships. For OCPD to be diagnosed, not all of the symptoms described need to be present in an individual.

Differentiating between obsessive compulsive disorder and OCPD

OCPD is a distinctly different condition from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and the two conditions present with different symptoms and features, as outlined here:

Obsessive Compulsive DisorderObsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
People with OCD often realize that their obsession with an activity or substance is not normalPeople with OCPD fail to realize that their obsession is bordering on abnormal and unreasonable
The behaviours in OCD may not be applicable in real life day-to-day activities. For example, behaviours may involve repeatedly checking locked doors or counting stepsThe behaviours are often an extension of normal occupational or daily activities
OCD may interfere with almost all aspects of a person's life including occupational, familial and social activities.OCPD may affect personal or occupational relationships but people with this condition may sometimes be more efficient than their counterparts


Treatment of OCPD is usually in the form of talking therapy or counselling. Medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may be prescribed for individuals who have failed to respond positively to counselling alone.

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy can help a person with OCPD to recognize that their behaviour is abnormal and help them cope with symptoms of the condition to improve day-to-day functioning and interpersonal relationships.
  • Lifestyle changes include eating a healthy, balanced diet, regular physical activity, relaxation and meditation, cessation of any smoking and substance abuse and reduction of alcohol consumption.
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