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What is OCPD?

Individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) typically exhibit perfectionistic standards and/or “truth owning,” believing that the rigid rules they have implemented are the right rules to live by. As opposed to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, there is no identifiable irrational threat and accompanying anxiety that maintains OCPD. OCPD is technically not diagnosable until the age of 18 however behaviors that fall under this umbrella typically can be observed in younger age. A child who is perfectionistic may be praised for his high level of academic achievement and attainment of laudable employment. At some point, it becomes apparent to the individual living with OCPD or those close to the sufferer, that this disorder is disruptive and impairing.

Perfectionism takes the form of either needing to look a certain way, dress a certain way, have items aligned a particular way, maintaining clarity or cleanliness (not due to fears of contamination but because it SHOULD look a certain way), reading without errors, spending a superfluous amount of time beginning tasks or reviewing completed tasks at work, or needing to possess something without flaws or imperfections. Perfectionistic individuals do not believe that “good is good enough.” Hours could be spent perfectly polishing shoes, wiping out every last spot on the bathroom tile or incessantly reviewing work. Wiggle room does not exist in this world. Something is either perfectly read, cleaned, or presented or it is not.

Individuals with OCPD often possess a firmly held belief that their way is the right way. Examples include “All people should dress this way,” or “I should never make a grammatical error” or “Anyone who believes in global warming is a moron,” or “My God is the only God to follow.” There is no flexibility or a consideration of middle ground. Absolutes are common and wholeheartedly embraced. These individuals have difficulty deviating from what they hold to be true. Black and white or dichotomous thinking is the hallmark pattern exhibited.


Treatment for OCPD focuses on learning to accept the imperfect world within which we all operate. Individuals are encouraged to intentionally leave things open, unfinished, incomplete or subpar. As opposed to living in an inflexible black-and-white world, the goal becomes learning to live “in the grey.” It is recommended that the treatment principles discussed in this article be attempted under the care of a qualified mental health professional.

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