Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, or OCPD, is a mental illness characterized by extreme adherence to rules and a need for control. OCPD is a Cluster C personality disorder, one of a group of personality disorders marked by strong feelings of anxiety and fear. In the case of OCPD, anxious and fearful feelings come about when the person feels they’re losing control of a situation or that their rules aren’t being followed.

Signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are obsessed with perfection, rules, details, orderliness and control, usually at the expense of any kind of impulsivity or flexibility. They are uncomfortable making decisions on their own, preferring to follow pre-established rules. As a result, people with OCPD are usually inefficient, poor problem solvers and ill-suited to jobs and situations requiring quick decision-making skills or flexibility.

Loss of control, whether real or imagined, is very upsetting to people with OCPD. However, they are often incapable of directly expressing their anger, often reacting in a passive-aggressive fashion. People with OCPD are typically uncomfortable in interpersonal relationships, acting stiff and formal even with family and friends.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Symptoms

In addition to a chronic obsession with orderliness and perfection, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder symptoms can include:

  • Excessive dedication to work and productivity, at the expense of personal relationships and relaxation
  • Inflexible attitudes about morality, values and ethics
  • Obsessive-compulsive hoarding tendencies (for example, an inability to throw away old items even when they have no value or usefulness)
  • Overly cautious about spending money, or stingy
  • Perfectionism that interferes with completing tasks
  • Preoccupation with rules, lists, details, order, schedules or organization, to the point of interference with completing a project
  • Stubbornness
  • Unwillingness to delegate tasks or otherwise relinquish control.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder vs. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) should not be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes obsessions (upsetting thoughts, images or feelings) that must be suppressed by a compulsion (a ritualistic and often inappropriate behavior). For example, a person with OCD may have a fear of being robbed. To suppress that fear, the person might lock each door of his house exactly three times every night. Alternatively, a person who is terrified of germs or contamination may engage in obsessive-compulsive cleaning behavior.

Although OCD and OCPD are two distinct conditions, they can occasionally occur simultaneously, such as with extreme obsessive-compulsive hoarding behavior. Many hoarders exhibit signs of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder.


Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (2010). Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.minddisorders.com/Ob-Ps/Obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder.html

Grohol, J.D. (2010). Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx26.htm

Vorvick, L. (2008). Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000942.htm

 Posted on : June 23, 2014