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Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

Written by
Dr. Ashok Kumar
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Sep 24, 2013 and last reviewed on Mar 02, 2023   -  4 min read


An obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is a mental illness defined by strict orderliness, control, and perfectionism. Read on to learn about it.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

It is not unusual to be orderly, diligent, or stubborn. In some instances, these personality traits may even come in handy. However, when these traits are taken to an extreme, they can negatively impact the quality of a person's emotional, physical, and social well-being.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a mental disorder in which a person has a fixation with strict orderliness, perfection, and control. This preoccupation can sometimes lead to impairment. Unfortunately, people with OCPD may be unaware of their condition or see a need for change. On the contrary, they may believe that other people are the ones who need to change.

What Causes OCPD?

OCPD involves a persistent pattern of behavior that usually begins when the person is a teenager or young adult. The exact cause of OCPD is still unknown. However, research studies suggest that a person's upbringing may play a role. For example, being raised in an environment with strict rules and harsh punishments can cause a person to obsess over doing things "perfectly." They may have felt that they ought to be a perfectly obedient child. Besides childhood experiences, OCPD may be caused by a combination of genetics.

What Are the Risk Factors for OCPD?

OCPD is a common personality disorder. Research reveals that about 3 % to 8 % of the population is affected by OCPD. The condition is most common in older adults. According to the International OCD Foundation (OCDF), males are twice as likely as females to be diagnosed with this disorder. People with existing mental health problems are more likely to be diagnosed with OCPD. However, more research is required to confirm OCPD's role in these diagnoses. Also, those with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are more likely to be diagnosed with OCPD.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of OCPD?

Some OCPD symptoms are the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). For example, those with OCD have unwanted thoughts, whereas people with OCPD believe that their beliefs are correct. In addition, OCD often starts in childhood, while OCPD typically begins in the teenage or early 20s.

The common signs of OCPD include:

How Is OCPD Diagnosed?

There is no specific test or procedure to determine if a person has OCPD. However, a person is affected with OCPD if they have at least four of the eight signs mentioned above. In addition, the symptoms follow a long-term pattern formed by early adulthood.

To make a diagnosis, a mental health professional generally asks questions about the symptoms and their effect on daily life. Because OCPD also closely resembles other conditions like OCD, autism spectrum disorder, eating disorders, and other personality disorders, the clinician may perform laboratory tests and a physical examination to rule out other similar conditions. In addition to self-reported details, information collected from family, friends, and peers can also assist a mental health expert in establishing an accurate diagnosis.

If you suspect you have OCPD, do not feel hesitant to seek a diagnosis.

What Is the Treatment for OCPD?

Due to a lack of information, more research is required in this area. While psychotherapy is the most effective treatment for OCPD, medicines can also help reduce anxiety and depression from OCPD. In some cases, medications combined with psychotherapy are more effective than either treatment alone.


Therapy options for OCPD can include the following:

  • Psychodynamic Therapy: It is intended to help people understand conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions to make healthier choices in their daily lives.

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT): This therapy focuses on helping one notice and changes the negative thought patterns associated with OCPD.


The clinician might suggest medications to help control some of the OCPD symptoms, especially if they are also experiencing other conditions like depression or anxiety disorders. These might include medications to manage anxiety (antidepressants). It is often challenging to treat OCPD, even when the person is prepared to seek treatment, but if the person is willing to seek help, treatment can be effective. In addition, it has been suggested that sometimes those with OCPD may respond better to treatment because of strict adherence to therapies and medications.

Coping Strategies:

In addition to seeking treatment, some coping strategies for OCPD can also benefit. These could include:

  • Educating yourself. It may help one notice when a symptom of OCPD is causing a particular behavior, so one can take steps to cope.

  • Managing your stress. Develop a plan to reduce stress to be ready to cope with whatever comes your way.

  • Trying mindfulness and meditation.

  • Consider practicing self-care as a regular part of your day.

What Is the Outlook for People With OCPD?

The outlook or prognosis for OCPD is usually better than that for other personality disorders. Treatment can help provide greater awareness of how the symptoms of OCPD can adversely affect others, thus preventing many of the complications, including substance abuse, relationship difficulties, or difficulty moving forward in career situations. On the other hand, the social isolation and difficulty handling anger common in people with OCPD can lead to depression and anxiety problems later in life. As with other personality disorders, finding the proper treatment is the key to success.


An obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is a mental disorder defined by strict orderliness, control, and perfectionism. Like many aspects of OCPD, its causes are yet to be determined.

While psychotherapy is thought to be the most effective treatment for OCPD, medicines can help reduce anxiety and depression from OCPD. Coping strategies, including lowering stress and learning more about the condition, can also help manage your symptoms. If someone suspects having OCPD, seek help from a mental health professional. An accurate diagnosis can help ensure that one gets the most appropriate treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Differentiate Between OCD and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

OCD is an anxiety disorder, where people realize that they have a mental illness, often having ritualistic behavior, and do not damage their relationships. In comparison, an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is a personality disorder. People do not realize that they have a mental illness, show perfectionism in several areas, and make people who have a relationship with them suffer a lot.


How Does a Person With OCPD Feel Like?

OCPD is a medical condition where people may have perfectionism, overpowering need for order, and mental and interpersonal control. These people will have an obsessive need to follow specific rules and regulations as well as ethical and moral codes from which they will not deviate.


How to Treat a Person With Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

The main treatment options for obsessive-compulsive disorder are medication, psychotherapy, and relaxation exercises. For a successful treatment, there should be a strong working relationship between the therapist and the patient.


What Is the Toughest Personality Disorder to Treat?

Antisocial, histrionic, borderline, and narcissistic are some of the personality disorders. Among these, borderline personality disorder is the toughest to treat.


How Do I Know if I Have OCPD?

You can understand that you have OCPD when you have these symptoms:
- Perfectionism.
- Over-devotion to work.
- Lack of flexibility.
- Not allowing other people to do something.
- Not willing to show affection.
- Struggling with disordered eating.
- Following self-imposed rules.
- Not throwing things away, even if the objects do not have any value.
- Lack of generosity.
- Preoccupation with details, regulations, and lists.


Is OCPD a Serious Disorder?

OCPD is a serious disorder because it interferes with a person's relationship with others. They can even spoil their relationship. If they are treated, these people can improve their quality of life since they are rarely aware that there is a problem that goes untreated.


What Do You Mean by Borderline Personality Syndrome?

Borderline personality syndrome is an illness that indicates an ongoing pattern of self-image, varying moods, and behavior. People with borderline personality development may have symptoms like:
- Unstable relationships.
- Chronic feelings of emptiness.
- Self-harm.
- Explosive anger.
- Extreme emotional swings.
- Fear of abandonment.
- Unclear or shifting self-image.
- Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors.


How to Diagnose an Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

It is very easy to diagnose obsessive-compulsive disorder if you have symptoms like:
- Perfectionism.
- Preoccupation with details.
- A demand that others submit to one's way,
- Inconclusive.
- Devotion to work.
- Restricted expression.
- Over conscientiousness.
- Lack of generosity.
- Hoarding.


How Prevalent Is OCPD?

OCPD is more prevalent among men than women. About 3 to 8 % of people are affected by OCPD, and 1 among 100 people is found to have OCPD in the United States.


Can Both OCD and OCPD Occur in a Person?

OCD and OCPD will usually have related features, but they are two different disorders. A person can have both these disorders. But research indicates that most of the individuals with OCD will not have OCPD.


Can a Personality Disorder Be Controlled?

We can control a personality disorder by:
- Being an active participant in your care to manage your personality disorder.
- Taking your medications as directed and not skipping your medications even if you are sick.
- Learning about your condition.
- Being active.
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol.
- Getting routine medical care.


Is There a Cure for OCPD?

Treatment of OCPD is similar to that of OCD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a talk therapy that is very effective in treating OCPD. Some people may also need additional treatment with medications like Carbamazepine and Fluvoxamine to reduce OCPD symptoms.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
02 Mar 2023  -  4 min read




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