Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, not to be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a Cluster C personality disorder that features an excessive concern with order, perfectionism, and having control over one’s environment. The tendency toward desiring control also reaches into interpersonal relationships, which often undermines them.
About Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Individuals with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder keep their emotions tightly controlled, therefore hesitate to express feelings openly. People who struggle with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder dislike unpredictability so they are usually inflexible in their behaviors, and do not like to be in situations where they cannot control their environment. They can become angry when they find themselves in situations where they are not able to exercise control.
Men are twice as likely as women to have obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. It is the most prevalent of the personality disorders, affecting between 2%-7% of the US adult population.
Causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Although there is no known cause of the disorder, some theories exist about possible causes or risk factors. Evidence points to a complex combination of genetic, social, and psychological factors that culminate in obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Individuals with a close family member who has this disorder have a higher likelihood of also acquiring it. Social development, such as their early childhood experiences and relationships, as well as temperament and personality traits can all influence or shape the obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder can have a significant impact on an individual’s professional, social, and romantic relationships. At work or when attempting a home project, a tendency toward perfectionism may cause the person to freeze up and never complete a project because they continue to strive for unrealistic perfection.
Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder include:
Diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Comorbid depression may be what motivates the individual with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder to seek help. Most people with personality disorders do not recognize or admit that they have a problem, but co-occurring depression or anxiety may cause enough distress that they will approach a mental health provider for help. After an interview the therapist who recognizes the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder will then consult the DSM-5 for the diagnostic criteria, which enables them to make the diagnosis.
Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
While there are no medications available specifically for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, some individuals may benefit from antidepressants to anti-anxiety medications to help control symptoms associated with a co-occurring mood disorder.
The primary mode of treatment for this disorder is psychotherapy. The goal is to equip the individual with new coping skills and insights that enable them to function better within relationships. The two types of psychotherapy used for treating individuals with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are:
CBT is a short-term therapy that emphasizes a change in thought/behavior patterns that are self-critical and self-defeating. The therapist teaches the individual how to reframe their negative thoughts and emotions toward self-affirming ones.
Psychodynamic therapy assists the individual in exploring why they seek total control over every situation, and help them see that no one is perfect.
In addition to traditional therapies, individuals with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder benefit from practicing relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and deep breathing exercises.
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