Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

This overview is for educational purposes only and not to be used for self diagnosis. (Source – Psychology Today)

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a condition in which a person shows an excessive focus on details, order and rules, and the need to achieve a perfect outcome, often in a way that interferes with daily life. In addition to demanding that others follow certain rules or meet high standards, people with OCPD can be severely self-critical.

  • While OCD and OCPD share features such as a strong preoccupation with details and rules, in some areas of one’s life, they differ in important ways.
  •  People with OCPD do not have unwanted thoughts that compel them to create routines or rituals, as those with OCD do.
  •  In contrast, people with OCPD experience their thoughts and behaviours as rational and purposeful. 
  • People with OCPD show symptoms that are stable across time, whereas the symptoms of OCD often change over time and in response to anxiety-provoking circumstances.

What are the primary symptoms/signs of the condition?

  • A preoccupation with order and details that results in the person missing the point of an activity.
  • Perfectionism that hinders the completion of tasks.
  • Excessive devotion to work and productivity.
  • Excessive conscientiousness and inflexibility related to morality or values (not explained by one’s culture or religion).
  • Inability to get rid of worn or worthless objects, even if they lack sentimental value
  • Reluctance to delegate tasks to or work with others unless things are done his or her way 
  • Reluctance to spend money on oneself or others and a belief that money should be hoarded for emergencies
  • Rigidity and stubbornness
  • People with OCPD may face challenges in their work or social life related to these symptoms:
    • For example, they may delay starting or finishing a task because they cannot settle on the “best” or (the) “right” way to complete it.
    •  A loss of control in particular situations may provoke frustration. 
    • Those with OCPD often have difficulty expressing feelings of affection and may be uncomfortable with others’ expressions of emotion. 
    • They may also not appreciate how their insistence on thoroughness negatively impacts others.


Please Note: This information is for educational purposes only and not to be used for self-diagnosis. If you or a loved one can relate to a number of features listed below, then please do use our therapist directory to find a psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist that is right for you to receive a professional diagnosis.

What factors can be contributing causes? 

  • Research indicates that genetics explain a considerable amount of the risk of developing OCPD. 
  • The disorder also appears to be diagnosed approximately twice as frequently in males as it is in females according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). 
  • While genetics are a factor, some theories suggest that parenting style can steer a vulnerable individual towards the OCPD spectrum, (and this ) especially (occurs) if the parent is highly controlling or protective (of their children). In this scenario, the personality disorder develops as a coping mechanism to avoid punishment. 
  • Because OCPD (is present) – like behaviour has been documented in very young children, it is hard to assess the ways in which parenting and genetics might interact to prevent or cure the disorder.

What is the recommended treatment?

  • There is some evidence that cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy—related forms of therapy that seeks to address unhelpful thoughts and behaviors—can reduce the severity of symptoms. 
  • Antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (- a type of drug that treats depression – ) have also been investigated as potential treatments for OCPD.
  • Relaxation training, which focuses on breathing and other relaxation techniques, is also commonly used to treat OCPD. Examples of relaxation training include yoga and tai chi.

  • A general practitioner (GP) or psychologist can usually diagnose OCPD by asking questions about a person’s medical history and symptoms
  • The GP/psychologist will also inquire about a patient’s physical health to ensure that the obsessive behavior is not caused as a result of other underlying medical conditions, or by factors such as drug or alcohol use.
  • The GP/psychologist will then check the symptoms that the patient presents with against the standard criteria for OCPD. 
  • If the symptoms that the patient presents interferes with their capability to go about their daily lives and interact with other people, they will be provided with an OCPD diagnosis.

  • OCPD is diagnosed twice as much in men as it is in women.
  • OCPD is one of the most common personality disorders, and according to the American Psychological Association (APA), prevalence estimates range from 2.1 to 7.9%. This would indicate that 1 in every 100 people have OCPD.

If you are experiencing any of these signs, here are some activities you can do at home until you are able to consult a professional

    • Exercise
    • Engage in creative outlets such as writing, painting, or music
    • Keep a gratitude journal
    • Talk to a family member or friend about how you are feeling
    • Practice Mindfulness
    • Practice Yoga
    • Engage in a well-balanced diet
    • Maintain a good sleep schedule 
    • Recognise what you can and can’t handle