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Personality Disorders - Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
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Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), or anankastic personality disorder, is a personality disorder that is characterized by a general psychological inflexibility, rigid conformity to rules and procedures, perfectionism, and excessive orderliness.

Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is often confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). While the names sound similar, these are actually two quite different disorders. Those who are suffering from OCPD do not generally feel the need to repeatedly perform ritualistic actions (such as excessive hand-washing), while this is a common symptom of OCD. Instead, people with OCPD tend to stress perfectionism above all else, and feel anxious when they perceive that things aren't "right".

People with OCPD may hoard money, keep their home perfectly organized, or be anxious about delegating tasks for fear that they won't be completed correctly. There are few moral grey areas for a person with OCPD; actions and beliefs are either completely right, or absolutely wrong. As might be expected, interpersonal relationships are difficult because of the excessive demands placed on friends, romantic partners, and children.

Diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV-TR)

The DSM-IV-TR, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders (see also: DSM cautionary statement), defines obsessive compulsive personality disorder as 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

It is important to note that while a person may exhibit any or all of the characteristics of a personality disorder, it is not diagnosed as a disorder unless the person has trouble leading a normal life due to these issues.


Treatment for OCPD normally involves a combination of both psychotherapy and drug medications.

It takes a significant amount of time to control the symptoms of OCPD when first starting to take the prescribed medication. For this reason, it is important to continue the prescribed treatment.


  • Behavior therapy - Talking with a psychotherapist about ways to change compulsions into healthier, productive actions.
  • Psychotherapy - Talking with a trained counselor or psychotherapist who understands the condition.


All drugs can be grouped together by how they work (ie, their specific mode of action). Approved drugs include:

  • Monamine Oxidase (Inhibitors (MAOIs)) - Increases levels of the neurotransmitters known to influence behavioral patterns in the brain (eg, serotonin). This helps control the obsessions and compulsions.
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - Increased levels of serotonin in the brain, a chemical "messenger" known to influence the obsessions and compulsions.
  • Other drugs, like Anxiolytics are useful for treating the symptoms of anxiety commonly associated with OCPD.

Other treatments

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy - Involves the administration of brief electrical impulses to the head while under general anesthesia, which may help to reduce obsessive and compulsive behavior (for the severely ill).
  • Neurosurgery - In special cases, surgery on the specific part of the brain that is involved with OCPD may help to alleviate the obsessions and compulsions (for severe, intractable OPCD).

Self Help

  • Educating family and friends about the condition will help them to manage behavioral problems more sympathetically, and to watch out for the warning signs.
  • Support groups may also be helpful in accepting and changing Obsessive-Compulsive behaviors.
  • Relaxation, meditation, physical exercise, regular sleep, and a balanced diet are all important factors in maintaining this focus.
  • Consult your healthcare provider if you are having difficulty sleeping and/or you are experiencing problems that prevent you taking regular exercise.
  • Keeping a diary may help the individual to identify those stressful situations that help to trigger compulsive reactions, enabling them to focus on more constructive activities

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder".