(See also Overview of Personality Disorders Overview of Personality Disorders Personality disorders in general are pervasive, enduring patterns of thinking, perceiving, reacting, and relating that cause significant distress or functional impairment. Personality disorders... read more .)
Because patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder need to be in control, they tend to be solitary in their endeavors and to mistrust the help of others.
About 2.1 to 7.9% of the general population are estimated to have obsessive-compulsive personality disorder; it is more common among men.
Familial traits of compulsivity, restricted range of emotion, and perfectionism are thought to contribute to this disorder.
Comorbidities may be present. Patients often also have a depressive disorder Depressive Disorders Depressive disorders are characterized by sadness severe enough or persistent enough to interfere with function and often by decreased interest or pleasure in activities. Exact cause is unknown... read more (major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder) or an alcohol use disorder Alcohol Toxicity and Withdrawal Alcohol (ethanol) is a central nervous system depressant. Large amounts consumed rapidly can cause respiratory depression, coma, and death. Large amounts chronically consumed damage the liver... read more .
Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may lessen even over a time period as short as 1 year, but their persistence (ie, remission and relapse rates) during the long term are less clear.
In patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, preoccupation with order, perfectionism, and control of themselves and situations interferes with flexibility, effectiveness, and openness. Rigid and stubborn in their activities, these patients insist that everything be done in specific ways.
To maintain a sense of control, patients focus on rules, minute details, procedures, schedules, and lists. As a result, the main point of a project or activity is lost. These patients repeatedly check for mistakes and pay extraordinary attention to detail. They do not make good use of their time, often leaving the most important tasks until the end. Their preoccupation with the details and making sure everything is perfect can endlessly delay completion. They are unaware of how their behavior affects their coworkers. When focused on one task, these patients may neglect all other aspects of their life.
Because these patients want everything done in a specific way, they have difficulty delegating tasks and working with others. When working with others, they may make detailed lists about how a task should be done and become upset if a coworker suggests an alternative way. They may reject help even when they are behind schedule.
Patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are excessively dedicated to work and productivity; their dedication is not motivated by financial necessity. As a result, leisure activities and relationships are neglected. They may think they have no time to relax or go out with friends; they may postpone a vacation so long that it does not happen, or they may feel they must take work with them so that they do not waste time. Time spent with friends, when it occurs, tends to be in a formally organized activity (eg, a sport). Hobbies and recreational activities are considered important tasks requiring organization and hard work to master; the goal is perfection.
These patients plan ahead in great detail and do not wish to consider changes. Their relentless rigidity may frustrate coworkers and friends.
Expression of affection is also tightly controlled. These patients may relate to others in a formal, stiff, or serious way. Often, they speak only after they think of the perfect thing to say. They may focus on logic and intellect and be intolerant of emotional or expressive behavior.
These patients may be overzealous, picky, and rigid about issues of morality, ethics, and values. They apply rigid moral principles to themselves and to others and are harshly self-critical. They are rigidly deferential to authorities and insist on exact compliance to rules, with no exceptions for extenuating circumstances.
For a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, patients must have
This pattern is shown by the presence of ≥ 4 of the following:
Preoccupation with details, rules, schedules, organization, and lists
A striving to do something perfectly that interferes with completion of the task
Excessive devotion to work and productivity (not due to financial necessity), resulting in neglect of leisure activities and friends
Excessive conscientiousness, fastidiousness, and inflexibility regarding ethical and moral issues and values
Unwillingness to throw out worn-out or worthless objects, even those with no sentimental value
Reluctance to delegate or work with other people unless those people agree to do things exactly as the patients want
A miserly approach to spending for themselves and others because they see money as something to be saved for future disasters
Rigidity and stubbornness
Also, symptoms must have begun by early adulthood.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder should be distinguished from the following disorders:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent, persistent, unwanted, and intrusive thoughts, urges, or images (obsessions) and/or by repetitive behaviors or mental acts that... read more : Patients with OCD have true obsessions (repetitive, unwanted, intrusive thoughts that cause marked anxiety) and compulsions (ritualistic behaviors that they feel they must do to reduce their anxiety-related obsessions). Patients with OCD are often distressed by their lack of control over compulsive drives; in patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, the need for control is driven by their preoccupation with order so their behavior, values, and feelings are acceptable and consistent with their sense of self.
Avoidant personality disorder Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD) Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by the avoidance of social situations or interactions that involve risk of rejection, criticism, or humiliation. Diagnosis is by clinical criteria... read more : Both avoidant and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders are characterized by social isolation; however, in patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, isolation results from giving priority to work and productivity rather than relationships, and these patients mistrust others only because of their potential to intrude on the patients' perfectionism.
Schizoid personality disorder Schizoid Personality Disorder (ScPD) Schizoid personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of detachment from and general disinterest in social relationships and a limited range of emotions in interpersonal relationships... read more : Both schizoid and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders are characterized by a seeming formality in interpersonal relationships and by detachment. However, the motives are different: a basic incapability for intimacy in patients with schizoid personality disorder vs discomfort with emotions and dedication to work in patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
General treatment Treatment Personality disorders in general are pervasive, enduring patterns of thinking, perceiving, reacting, and relating that cause significant distress or functional impairment. Personality disorders... read more of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is similar to that for all personality disorders.
Information about treatment for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is sparse. Also, treatment is complicated by the patient's rigidity, obstinacy, and need for control, which can be frustrating for therapists.
Psychodynamic therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Sometimes during therapy, the patient's interesting, detailed, intellectualized conversation may seem psychologically oriented, but it is void of affect and does not lead to change.