November 28, 2010

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

I’ve often wondered if I have OCPD.  I still don’t know.  None of my therapists have actually said that I have OCPD, but I know that I have perfectionistic compulsions….mostly as they relate to my OCD themes (gay OCD and relationship OCD), but since my OCD themes are so tied into life and relationships, I think it can be hard to distinguish. 
OCPD is a condition where the person is preoccupied with rules, orderliness and control.  Hmmmm….sounds like a lot of us with OCD hey?  I struggle with this definition, and yes – I can become obsessive about trying to “figure out” whether I have OCPD.  I don’t know why it matters so much.  I think because if I do have OCPD, there is less hope for recovery.  (Feared Outcome here – that I’ll suffer from this hell forever, and will destroy more relationships.  That I’ll never find “peace”.)
So – in my compulsive way, I’ve been doing some research on the internet about how to know if one has OCPD.  I’ve also asked my therapist.  She didn’t give me an answer. 
Here are some examples of the common signs of OCPD:
-          Excessive devotion to work.  Not me.  Well……I shouldn’t say that.  I definitely am not a workaholic.  I don’t really garner a lot of enjoyment from my job.  But in my last position, I was so anxious about perhaps being fired, or not succeeding, that I spent a lot of time working.  And when I wasn’t at work, I was thinking about it A LOT. 
-          Inflexibility. Not me.  I don’t think.  But I am (or can be) stubborn.  Do those mean the same things?
-          Inability to throw things away (even when the object is of no value).  Definitely NOT me. 
-          Lack of generosity.  Not me.  I consider myself to be generous.  But the OCD/Doubting side of me says “are you sure?  Do you have any examples of that?  Maybe you should check in your past for examples.”
-          Limited expression of affection.  I wasn’t raised in an overly affectionate family.  But I definitely like affection, and I like to give affection. 
-          Perfectionism.  Yup.  I’m definitely a perfectionist.  In a lot of ways.  People would look in my car and say “no way – you’re not a perfectionist.”  This summer, my niece stayed with me for six weeks and when I mentioned that I’m a perfectionist she said “YOU?!”  But I’m definitely a perfectionist about many things. 
-          Preoccupation with details, rules and lists.  This one is an odd one for me.  I work in marketing, and an attention to detail is important – especially when proofreading an ad prior it goes to print.  However, I suck at this.  My attention to detail is horrible.  But I can walk into someone’s house and immediately pick out if there is a photo hung crooked on the wall.  The preoccupation with rules is tough too.  I’m the first person to break a rule if I think it’s stupid (self-righteousness isn’t listed as a sign of OCPD!), but when provided with the rules for a scenario, I am pretty concerned with sticking to them for FEAR of being reprimanded. 
-          Reluctance to allow others to do things. Another hard one to answer.  I’d love it if everyone else did the things, but really do like it when they do it my way.  :o)

When all is said and done, there is no clear cut “answer”.  How many people - OCD or not - can't look at that list and identify on some level with some of it?  Of course, my OCD wants me to have an answer - to know for sure.  As I write this, I can feel the anxiety building slightly, and a little voice inside my head saying “you might have OCPD.  This would be horrible!  Maybe this would mean that you are receiving the wrong treatment, and you will continue to struggle forever, and continue having difficulty with relationships etc etc!  You better figure this out.”  I’m not going to listen to this voice though.  In the end it doesn’t matter.  I’m doing the best that I can, and having a diagnosis, or another label isn’t going to suddenly cause all of my struggles and issues to go away.  I will continue to plug along with my treatment, regardless of what that annoying little OCD voice says. 


  1. For me, whenever I start thinking "You better figure this out," I know that the OCD is acting up. It sounds like you have got a good handle on the dynamic here--the wanting to figure out if you have OCPD in order to make sure you have the right treatment. I have lost a lot of time to "figuring out"--it helped when I realized this is a mental ritual, and that as tempting as it was to attempt to get the answer, ultimately it made me feel worse. The OCD would get sneaky then and say, "But what if you really do need to figure something out? Will you go through life never really thinking about anything? What if sophisticated analysis is required and you are willfully ignoring it, and making a huge mistake?" But the OCD is not smart enough to actually guide me--the "Figuring out" never really gets me an answer.

  2. Expwoman - very good point! And I like what you said about the fact that "figuring out" never gets you the answer anyway. I get lured into thinking that if I just think about it more and more the "answer" will come. But you're right - it never happens! I tend to get that a lot more with my HOCD than I do with my ROCD. "Figuring out" is a big compulsion for me regarding my relationship. The biggest hang up for me comes when my OCD says "OK fine - but just becuase you have OCD and are obsessing about having OCPD doesn't mean that you don't have both!" That's a tough thought to just let be there. Thanks for the comment - it really helps!

  3. I am 18 and at the end of the line, I need help very soon but I dont know where to get proper help in fear of being not properly diagnosed and making my situation worse than it already is. I dont know how I can handle this anymore. It has gotten to the point of literally when I wake up I start thinking about this until the moment when I go to bed. At its worst days I may get 3 hours of sleep. I feel like puking, Im so tired and need help. Im broke and help my parent pay for the rent while trying to go to school at the same time. I dont know what to do anymore. I want to write my email but im scared someone will see it and realize its me. I live in North Vancouver and havnt been able to find any resources. Please help. Thank you

  4. Ashkon - I am sorry you are struggling! I would suggest starting with UBC hospital - they used to treat OCD there and that might be a good place to start. You can always try the OC Foundation - they may have some resources for you too. . For more information go to I hope this helps. Hang in there - there is hope.

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