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What is Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder- An Overview

‘I need everything clean, it’s an OCD’ or ‘I need things aligned horizontally’ are some statements which are commonly used to describe one’s behaviour. But is it indeed, OCD? Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is often confused with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCDP), but they are two distinct disorders. In this article, we will further understand, briefly the distinction between OCD and OCPD, the symptoms, treatment, and risk factors of OCPD and how to live with someone who has OCPD.



OCD – obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized as recurrent and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) which increase anxiety followed by performing repetitive or ritualistic actions (compulsions) which lower this anxiety (DSM-V, 2013).

  • OCD is considered an anxiety disorder.
  • People with OCD are aware of their thoughts as being unreasonable.
  • The intrusive thoughts or actions take up at least an hour of the day.
  • Includes actions such as constant checking, need for symmetry, repeated washing of hands etc.
  • It is out of their control.
  • Usually interferes with work, social, or personal life.

Personality disorders are severe conflicts in a characterological assembly and behavioural tendencies, usually leading to substantial dysfunction in personal and social life. It usually begins in late childhood or adolescent years and persists steadily throughout adulthood (Ekselius, 2018). The modern background of OCPD originate in psychoanalytic theory and can be dated back to when Freud described the anal type character (Pfohl & Blum, 1991). OCPD- obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized as fixations with orderliness, perfectionism, mental and interpersonal control, at the cost of flexibility and efficiency (DSM-V, 2013).

  • OCPD is a personality disorder.
  • People with OCPD consider their way as the ‘right way’ and usually impose their rules and thoughts as reasonable.
  • Get irritated or angry when things are not their way, such as a change in schedule.
  • A person with OCPD is over conscientious and inflexible regarding the matters of ethics, values, and morality.
  • Is unable to discard unwanted or insignificant objects. They are unwilling to perform tasks with others unless it is performed exactly the way they want things.
  • OCPD usually interferes with interpersonal relationships, although, it may prove to be beneficial for work life.
  • Typically, do not believe they require treatment or therapy.
  • People in their life often feel overcriticized and controlled, which makes it challenging to live with them.



The literature to determine the cause for OCPD is scant. One study examined family link and found a significantly greater occurrence of OCPD in first-degree relatives of OCD probands (Samuels et al., 2000). It is difficult to determine the cause of OCPD due to its complex nature and comorbidity. Some studies suggest that OCPD is likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Although most therapists work with the biopsychosocial model of causation, which says that the disorder may be an entwined involving social, psychological, biological, and genetic factors (Grohol, 2020). Various theories also suggest that people with OCPD may have experienced a controlled and overprotective nurturing as a child, and the symptoms of OCPD may have developed as a coping mechanism.

The International OCD Foundation estimated that men are twice as likely to be diagnosed by OCPD than women.



The treatment of OCPD can be difficult due to the ego-syntonic nature of symptoms. This may lead to low motivation to seek treatment. However, the most likely treatment approaches adopted by therapists are as follows:

  1. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)- CBT is a commonly used treatment method by psychologists. This can prove to be vital as it can provide the person with OCPD some insight into their behaviour. The treatment involves recognizing and reorganizing the dysfunctional thoughts causing the unwanted behaviors (Pinto, 2016).
  2. Psychodynamic therapies- may help the patient of OCPD to reflect on their thoughts and provide insight into their behaviour and fixation with perfectionism and orderliness. Although there is not enough published research assessing the efficacy of this approach for OCPD, such insight-oriented and psychoanalytical theories are recommended for treatment (Alex et al., 2010)
  3. Medicine- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be helpful to reduce anxiety regarding the obsessive-compulsive behaviours (Nall, 2019).
  4. Relaxation training- involving breathing and relaxation practices that can help decrease the degree of anxiety may be helpful. The recommended relaxation practices include yoga, tai chi and Pilates.



It can be challenging to live and maintain a relationship with someone diagnosed with OCPD. It is essential to identify and pay attention to the obsessive-compulsive actions and behaviours of the person. Some critical factors are patience and empathy. With the rigid and ‘I have no problem’ behaviour of the OCPD patient, it can be tough to bring a quick change. Although, being patient, understanding and strategizing possible solution can help ease the anxiety and stress.

Another significant factor is communication, clear communication, and reassurance that the person does not need to be perfect and meticulous all the time may help them understand and see that their behaviour may be causing emotional harm. Second, be very supportive and caring towards the person with OCPD, make sure that the things that are very important to them are done their way as it could cause them to be aggressive and further cause tension in relationships. Make sure to not be the cause of their anxiety. Thirdly, take time out for yourself, it is evident that it is challenging to live with an OCPD patient, in the process of supporting them, one must take care of their mental health and spend time alone to rejuvenate their thoughts and energy. Lastly, it is often advised to seek help and support when OCPD interferes in functioning and relationships, the person with OCPD may be reluctant to therapy, but slow nudging and making them realize that they require treatment will help them understand their behaviour.




To summarize, OCPD patients are often rigid, inflexible, and conscientious with their rules. They think that they do not have a problem. There has no significant evidence as to what causes OCPD. Researchers believe that it is a combination of biological, genetic, social and psychological factors. It is known that it can be challenging for others to work and live with them. It is advised to seek professional support to enhance the life of oneself and that of others around them.



Alex, R., Ferriter, M., Jones, H., Duggan, C., Huband, N., Gibbon, S., … & Lieb, K. (2010). Psychological interventions for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (5).

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.

Ekselius L. (2018). Personality disorder: a disease in disguise. Upsala journal of medical sciences, 123(4), 194–204.

Grohol, J. (2020). Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from

Nall, R. M. (2019, November 28). What is an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder? MedicalNewsToday.

Pfohl, B., & Blum, N. (1991). Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: A Review of Available Data and Recommendations for DSM-IV. Journal of Personality Disorders, 5(4), 363-375.

Pinto, A. (2016). Treatment of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. In Clinical Handbook of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders (pp. 415-429). Springer, Cham.

Samuels, J., Nestadt, G., Bienvenu, O. J., Costa, P. T., Riddle, M. A., Liang, K. Y., … & Cullen, B. A. (2000). Personality disorders and normal personality dimensions in obsessive-compulsive disorder. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 177(5), 457-462.


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Written by Ritu Mishra

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Vishal Gaikwad

This is so amazing. Very helpful. Great work

Manish Mishra

It’s really good information. We all sometimes have OCD. One should consultant the psychologist for effective improvements during such if noticed.

Manish Mishra

Good information.

Nidhi Dahiya

Amazing work


Very effective explanation

Priti Sharma


Meenal Gandhi

A significant understanding of the subject. Great work.

Poornima mishra

Very very informative artical great work !!

Jaspreet kaur

Great! It’s is very informative. I got to know so many new things about ocpd. I wasn’t aware of so many things.,

Khushboo Talwar

Grear work

Anup Agarwal

Great write up. Good knowledge & understanding. Keep on writing good articles. Best Wishes.


Great work Ritu..keep going


Great work…keep going


Most informative thing I’ve read today . Keep up the good work 😉

Jagruti Kothari



Very nicely written with simple words. Mental health is a major health issue that is always being neglected or avoided to be discussed. Mental disorder is just like any other disorders in our body which that can be well treated if realized at the early stage. Delay in realizing or of accepting can cause further damage…

Brinda S

well written!

Shalini vats

Excellent efforts!

Pranay Kumar

Wonderful Article. Feeling glad to read.

Pranay Kumar

Please keep writing.

Amit vaish

Very well written in a comprehensive way, Keep it up


Very well written article. It is an eye opener. Generally people don’t talk about this. They think that it is their style of living life. OPCD needs to be taken care of, for the wellbeing of the person suffering.
Good work.

Shriya Sharma

Very well written.

Pulak Kaushik

Keep up the good work! 🙂

Riya Rajkotiya

Beautifully written!


Its brilliantly written to help understand a complex behaviour! Given how much we need awareness about mental health, its a great step towards it! Keep it up!

Shivam Mutreja

Found the article really informative. I would really appreciate if you write a piece about anxiety.


ओ सी डी एवं ओसीपीडी का इतना सटीक विवरण अन्तर उनके कार्यान्वयन पर प्रकाश डालना यकीनन उभरते मनोवैज्ञानिक की शानदार प्रयास यकीन रितु जी का जानदार लेख उत्तम है ।


एक शानदार जानकारी उदीयमान मनोवैज्ञानिक के मार्फत इस लेख के लिए रितु जी को बधाई।

Shriya Sharma

Quite insightful and interesting article.
Keep up the good work!

Simone Morarka

So informative!! A great read 🙂


Very helpful information and well written with professionalism.

Sushmitha Subramani

Very informative article. I loved the idea of distinguishing between OCD and OCPD.

Simone Morarka

Very informative!


Good information provided. Research seems to be done well. However the article seems in some place, extremely copy pasted and unoriginal. The resources provided are good for understanding of the topic. Difference between the OCD and OCDP is very often misunderstood. Good job 🙂

Vidhi Gupta

You should be so proud of yourself. This is an amazing article.

Alby Thomas

Great information with soo much of content. I agree OCD is one of the most disabling dirsorder that can affect the quality of life.

Elysia Fernandes

Great job! Very well written and to the point.

Simran Nair

As OCD is becoming prevalent in India, people need to know their symptoms so that they can identify the disorder on time and get treatment. Thanks for such an informative piece of information.

Sree rekha k zenith

Whenever I read about OCD I become very much intrested. It was my seminar topic. Good to hear from you. You did well

Swarnima Tewari

Very well written. I would appriciate if you write on other disorders too.


Excellent work

Iarisa Nongbet

Very accurate presentation , however, in the section “Causes of OCD” you have listed the causes of OCPD. Compulsions are a result of learned behaviours that are associated with providing relief from stress. Genetic and hereditary factors, chemical abnormalities in the brain, are known to cause OCD, alongwith distorted beliefs that reinforce and maintain symptoms of OCD.

Srijita Chatterjee

Thank you for spreading more accurate information on OCPD, as it often gets buried and clubbed together with OCD. One thing that I’d like to point out is like in some of the heading you have written OCD instead of OCPD. Also, I really like the article. Keep up the good work!

Akshita Wasnik

Very informative article, examples with reference to fictional characters would have made it much more easier to understand, but very nicely written. Good work!

Sanyogita Sharma

Very nice informative and knowledgeable article and a must read for everyone. Great work.

Meenakshi A Nair

Great effort, I would like to add a point that according to DSM5 ocd comes under ocd and related disorder, just an additional info, well done

Ami Kukadia

Very helpful and amazing content.

Prerna Dash

It was an amazing article and a great content, many people aren’t aware about OCD and there are misconceptions regarding it. This article will definitely make people aware about it. Great job!