Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

Everyone needs a little order in their lives to keep things moving smoothly. After all, chaos and disorganization can cause frustration and stress. But when preoccupation with orderliness takes over a person’s life and interferes with daily activities, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) might be the cause. About 1 in 100 people in the United States is estimated to have OCPD and the disorder is diagnosed in twice as many men as women.[1] Read on to learn more.

Definition of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), also called obsessive-compulsive, is a condition in which a person is preoccupied with rules, orderliness and control.[2] OCPD is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which is a type of anxiety disorder.[3] One difference is that people with OCD are aware that their unwanted thoughts are unreasonable while people with OCPD think their way is the “right and best way” and usually feel comfortable with such self-imposed systems of rules.[1]

Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is a type of personality disorder. Many people with one diagnosed personality disorder also have signs and symptoms of at least one other personality disorder.[3]

Signs & Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder include the following:[1,2]

  • Preoccupation with orderliness and rules
  • Extreme perfectionism
  • Desire to be in control of situations
  • Inability to discard broken or worthless objects
  • Inflexibility
  • Excess devotion to work
  • Lack of generosity
  • Not wanting to allow other people to do things
  • Not willing to show affection
  • Emotionally withdraw when not in control of a situation

Causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

While an exact cause is not known, the following may play a role in people with OCPD:[1,2]

Genetics: Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder tends to run in families, but this has not been well-studied.

Childhood environment: Theories suggest that people with OCPD may have been raised by parents who were unavailable and either overly controlling or overly protective, and who may have punished their children harshly. In response, children may have developed OCPD traits to cope with or avoid punishment.

Cultural factors: Societies or religions that are very authoritarian and bound by strict rules may impact early childhood development that affects personality expression.[1,2]

Effects of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

People with OCPD might also have the following:[2]

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

Treatments for Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

The following may be used alone or together to help treat OCPD:[1,2]

Psychotherapy. Talk therapies like psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can help patients understand their thoughts and feelings so that they have lessen rigid expectations and learn how to value close relationships, recreation, and fun with less emphasis on work and productivity.

Medicine. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (for example, Prozac) may be useful in addition to psychotherapy by helping to reduce some of the anxiety and depression from OCPD.

Relaxation. Specific breathing and relaxation techniques may help reduce a sense of urgency and stress that are experienced with OCPD.


  1. International OCD Foundation. Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). [PDF] Retrieved February 7, 2013, from http://www.ocfoundation.org/uploadedFiles/MainContent/Find_Help/OCPD%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf.
  2. Medline Plus. Obsessive compulsive personality disorder. Retrieved February 7, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000942.htm.
  3. Mayo Clinic. Personality disorders symptoms. Retrieved February 7, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/personality-disorders/DS00562/DSECTION=symptoms.

By C. J. Newton, MA, Therapists.com Editor

Visit BetterHelp, our Top rated online therapy provider.


This blog post is sponsored by BetterHelp, but all opinions are our own.”

“Counseing.info may receive compensation from BetterHelp or other sources if you purchase products or services through the links provided on this page.”