Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder


Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is the name of a Personality Disorder that is characterised by an extensive and long-lasting pattern of focusing on orderliness, perfectionism, control, planning and excessive attention to detail. These concerns cause problems in openness to experience, efficiency and sometimes, relationships. The disorder is part of the ‘Anxious and Feaful’ cluster of personality disorders. While this disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder share some traits, they are different conditions. This article provides a general look at this disorder.


Not to be confused with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder



Personality disorders can make life incredibly difficult to cope with



A person with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder will typically:


  • Exhibit a preoccupation with remembering past events – often memorising specific moments and words spoken.
  • Pay attention to very minor details.
  • Comply with existing rules, regulations and laws at all costs.
  • Take notes or write lists, even when such an activity appears to be futile
  • Adhere as closely as possible to a planned schedule.
  • Rigidly follow their beliefs.
  • Be a perfectionist. They will often go to great lengths in order to complete everything to the standard they want – even if it takes a considerable length of time. This often leads to stress-induced anxiety.
  • Be obsessed with cleanliness or tidiness.
  • Adopt a ‘my way or the highway’ approach to life



The cause of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder isn’t entirely known. It appears that a combination of genetic and environmental factors lead to its onset. On the genetic front, people with a certain form of the DRD3 gene (linked to dopamine), will often develop this disorder and Depression – with the chances even further enhanced if the individual is male. Like many other personality disorders – upbringing is key. Parents who are over-involved or overly-protective can also act as a trigger. Any emotional or physical trauma can also cause the disorder.



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If you suspect you have a personality disorder, it is generally advisable to see your GP. It is likely that they will refer you to a specialist. This specialist will perform a diagnosis – which will involve asking you several questions about your condition and the impact it has had on your life. Generally, the clinician will use guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association to confirm a diagnosis. There has been some controversy over its suitability for making a diagnosis. The guidelines state a diagnosis can be made if four of the following factors are present.


  1. The individual is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, organisation or schedules to the extent that the major point or key goal of the activity is lost.
  2. Shows a level of perfectionism that interferes with the completion of a task – often when a task hasn’t met their strict standard.
  3. Is devoted to work and productivity to the extent where they neglect leisure activities, socialising and friendships.
  4. Has a inflexible and rigid stance on controversial and polarising areas such as morality, ethics or values.
  5. Is unable to discard worthless or pointless objects – regardless of a lack of worth or sentimental value.
  6. Exhibits excessive control, such as being reluctant to delegate tasks or work with others due to fear over standards not being met.
  7. Doesn’t spend money readily, instead saves money wherever possible due to the possibility of a future catastrophe.
  8. Has over-arching traits of rigidity and stubbornness.


Source: American Psychiatric Association, ed. (2013). “Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, 301.4 (F60.5)”. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. American Psychiatric Publishing. pp. 678–682.



Individuals diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder are normally treated with Psychotherapy. The therapy will be used with the intention of changing compulsions and rigidity into more productive behaviour. In order to get the most out of treatment, an individual must readily admit and be conscious that they have a disorder – something which isn’t always possible. The long-term aim of therapy is to cause a change in behaviour to the extent where compulsions don’t interfere with a patient’s life. Patients who suffer from Anxiety or Depression as a result of the disorder can be given medication – normally an antidepressant – specifically an SSRI.



Other Personality Disorders: