Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is often confused with true obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In misused lay terms (e.g., “You’re so OCD!”), “OCD” generally describes somebody who is overly neat and clean, highly organized, very conscientious, perfectionistic, and generally inflexible with rules and order. However, these characteristics actually describe OCPD instead of OCD. OCPD also involves other features, such as being legalistic, overly focused on work (at the expense of leisure), stubborn, and hesitant to spend money and throw out old or worn items.

Since OCPD is considered a personality disorder, those who meet diagnostic criteria present with the extreme levels of traits that all people exhibit to some degree, causing distress and impairment to the self or others. When this occurs, treatment may be indicated.

While not much research has evaluated treatment for OCPD, principles and techniques of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be useful for addressing many of the tendencies that cause problems for individuals with OCPD. CBT approaches have been used effectively to address certain features of OCPD, like perfectionism.