Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)


Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is characterized by an inflexible adherence to rules or systems or an affinity to cleanliness and orderly structure.

OCPD is sometimes referred to as Anankastic Personality Disorder.

OCPD people may be mistrusting of others who may not hold the same convictions or understand their need for things to be just right. They may have trouble delegating, trusting others, sharing responsibilities or compromising. They may be obsessively clean or hygienic.


Although they may be similar, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is a different condition from the more commonly known Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is often characterized by a repetition or adherence to rituals. OCPD is characterized more by an unhealthy adherence to perfectionism.

Characteristics & Traits

Every relationship between a Personality-Disordered Individual and a Non Personality-Disordered Individual is as unique as the DNA of the people involved. Nevertheless, there are some common behavior patterns.

The following are descriptions of characteristics and behaviors which may be observed in an individual who suffers from obsessive compulsive personality disorder. This list includes direct traits which occur in OCPD sufferers and comorbid traits from other related personality disorders which may also occur in an OCPD sufferer. The list below contains descriptions as observed by family members and partners. Examples are given of each trait, with descriptions of what it feels like to be caught in the crossfire and some good (and bad) ideas for coping.

Please note that these descriptions are not intended for diagnosis. No one person exhibits all of the traits and the presence of one or more traits is not evidence of a personality disorder. See our disclaimer for more info. For a list of traits used in clinical diagnosis of OCPD refer to the OCPD DSM Criteria section below.

These descriptions are offered in the hope that non-personality-disordered family members, caregivers & loved-ones might recognize some similarities to their own situation and discover that they are not alone. Click on the links to read more about each trait.

Alienation - The act of cutting off or interfering with an individual's relationships with others.

"Always" and "Never" Statements - "Always" and "Never" Statements are declarations containing the words "always" or "never". They are commonly used but rarely true.

Anger - People who suffer from personality disorders often feel a sense of unresolved anger and a heightened or exaggerated perception that they have been wronged, invalidated, neglected or abused.

Avoidance - The practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.

Blaming - The practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.

Catastrophizing - The habit of automatically assuming a "worst case scenario" and inappropriately characterizing minor or moderate problems or issues as catastrophic events.

Circular Conversations - Arguments which go on almost endlessly, repeating the same patterns with no resolution.

Denial - Believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.

Depression - People who suffer from personality disorders are often also diagnosed with symptoms of depression.

Sense of Entitlement - An unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.

Hoarding - Accumulating items to an extent that it becomes detrimental to quality of lifestyle, comfort, security or hygiene.

Hysteria - An inappropriate over-reaction to bad news or disappointments, which diverts attention away from the real problem and towards the person who is having the reaction.

Manipulation - The practice of steering an individual into a desired behavior for the purpose of achieving a hidden personal goal.

Mood Swings - Unpredictable, rapid, dramatic emotional cycles which cannot be readily explained by changes in external circumstances.

No-Win Scenarios - When you are manipulated into choosing between two bad options

Objectification - The practice of treating a person or a group of people like an object.

Panic Attacks - Short intense episodes of fear or anxiety, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as hyperventilating, shaking, sweating and chills.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior - Expressing negative feelings in an unassertive, passive way.

Perfectionism - The maladaptive practice of holding oneself or others to an unrealistic, unattainable or unsustainable standard of organization, order, or accomplishment in one particular area of living, while sometimes neglecting common standards of organization, order or accomplishment in other areas of living.

Projection - The act of attributing one's own feelings or traits to another person and imagining or believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits.

Proxy Recruitment - A way of controlling or abusing another person by manipulating other people into unwittingly backing “doing the dirty work”

Push-Pull - A chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness in a relationship without appropriate cause or reason.

Ranking and Comparing - Drawing unnecessary and inappropriate comparisons between individuals or groups.

Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia - The use of memory, or a lack of memory, which is selective to the point of reinforcing a bias, belief or desired outcome.

Sabotage - The spontaneous disruption of calm or status quo in order to serve a personal interest, provoke a conflict or draw attention.

Selective Competence - Demonstrating different levels of intelligence, memory, resourcefulness, strength or competence depending on the situation or environment.

Splitting - The practice of regarding people and situations as either completely "good" or completely "bad".

Thought Policing - Any process of trying to question, control, or unduly influence another person's thoughts or feelings.

Triggering -Small, insignificant or minor actions, statements or events that produce a dramatic or inappropriate response.

Tunnel Vision - The habit or tendency to only see or focus on a single priority while neglecting or ignoring other important priorities.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) - The DSM Criteria

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) as a Cluster C (anxious or fearful) Personality Disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is defined by exhibiting at least four of the following:

Preoccupation with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost.
Showing 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).
Excessive devotion to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity).
Being over conscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification).
Inability to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value.
Reluctance to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things.
Adopting a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes.
Shows rigidity and stubbornness.

OCPD Treatment

Treatment of OCPD is usually centered around a combination of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. Secondary symptoms such as depression and anxiety are often treated using antidepressants. See outTreatment Page for lots more information about treatment of personality disorders

Movies Portraying Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Traits

Strictly speaking, these movies portray individuals with the closely related Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

As Good As It Gets - As Good As It Gets s a 1997 romantic comedy starring Jack Nicholson who portrays an obsessive-compulsive author and Helen Hunt, who plays a waitress who has to deal with him.

Mommie Dearest - Mommie Dearest is a 1981 biography of Hollywood Actress Joan Crawford, played by Faye Dunaway, who, according to the account in the movie, exhibited Obsessive Compulsive, Borderline and Narcissistic Traits.

Sleeping With The Enemy - Sleeping with the Enemyis a 1991 psychological thriller starring Julia Roberts, who tries to escape from her abusive husband, who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.

The Aviator - The Aviator is a 2004 drama film starring Leonardo DiCaprio based on the life of aviation pioneer Howard Hughes, a successful inventor, film producer and aviation pioneer who exhibits a number of severe obsessive-compulsive traits.

OCPD Support Groups & Links:

Out of the FOG Support Forum - Support for family members and loved-ones here at Out of the FOG.

http://ocpd.freeforums.org/index.php - Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Support Group - for those with OCPD and their loved ones.