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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Personality disorder - obsessive-compulsive

Last reviewed: November 17, 2012.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a mental health condition in which a person is preoccupied with rules, orderliness, and control.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

OCPD tends to occur in families, so genes may be involved. A person's childhood and environment may also play roles.

This disorder can affect both men and women. It most often occurs in men.

Symptoms

OCPD has some of the same symptoms as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But people with OCD have unwanted thoughts, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts are correct. In addition, OCD often begins in childhood while OCPD usually starts in the teen years or early 20s.

People with either OCPD or OCD are high achievers and feel a sense of urgency about their actions. They may become very upset if other people interfere with their rigid routines. They may not be able to express their anger directly. People with OCPD have feelings that they consider more appropriate, like anxiety or frustration.

A person with OCPD has symptoms of perfectionism that usually begin by early adulthood. This perfectionism may interfere with the person's ability to complete tasks, because their standards are so rigid. They may withdraw emotionally when they are not able to control a situation. This can interfere with their ability to solve problems and form close relationships.

Other signs of OCPD include:

  • Over-devotion to work
  • Not being able to throw things away, even when the objects have no value
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Lack of generosity
  • Not wanting to allow other people to do things
  • Not willing to show affection
  • Preoccupation with details, rules, and lists

Signs and tests

OCPD is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation that assesses the history and severity of the symptoms.

 

Treatment

Medicines may help reduce anxiety and depression from OCPD. Talk therapy is thought to be the most effective treatment for OCPD. In some cases, medicines combined with talk therapy is more effective than either treatment alone.

Expectations (prognosis)

Outlook for OCPD tends to be better than that for other personality disorders. The rigidness and control of OCPD may prevent many of the complications such as drug abuse, which are common in other personality disorders.

The social isolation and difficulty handling anger that are common with OCPD may lead to depression and anxiety later in life.

Complications

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty moving forward in career situations
  • Relationship difficulties

Calling your health care provider

See your health care provider or mental health professional if you or someone you know has symptoms of OCPD.

References

  1. Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA. Personality and personalitydisorders. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 39.

Review Date: 11/17/2012.

Reviewed by: Timothy Rogge, MD, Medical Director, Family Medical Psychiatry Center, Kirkland, WA. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

What works?

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder does not have to rule your life
    We all know the worrying feeling that we have forgotten to do something, like turning off the oven or locking the door. It is sometimes a good idea to double-check if you are not sure. But some people are so worried about forgetting something that they feel the urge to check again and again, an urge that can eventually take over their lives. Some people may constantly wash their hands because they are afraid of germs. Others cannot stop counting things. Whatever their ritual is, people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) just cannot stop doing these things.
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