Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is not the same as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This illness is characterized by a preoccupation with organization, perfectionism, and control—both mental and interpersonal—at the expense of flexibility and efficiency, while OCD is characterized by obsessions and compulsions.

Individuals who suffer from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder seek to uphold a feeling of control through their meticulous attention to rules, details, procedures, instructions, schedules, or lists and to an extent where the activity becomes pointless. They are very careful in all of their actions and are always checking for possible mistakes. These individuals often don’t realize that these tendencies affect others to the point of inconveniencing them and/or annoying them. For example, when someone with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder loses an important list detailing objectives for the day, he or she will spend an excessive amount of time trying to find it instead of taking a moment to simply recreate the list and begin tackling the tasks. This can result in missed deadlines, which affect business partners and coworkers.

Making an Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Diagnosis DSM-5 301.4 (F60.5)

There are differences between simple perfectionists and those with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. In order to distinguish these differences and determine a sure obsessive-compulsive personality disorder diagnosis, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), outlines criteria that must be met:

  • The individual develops a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control, at the price of flexibility and efficiency, which sets in by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by at least four of the following:
    • He or she obsesses over details, rules, lists, schedules, and organization in general, to the extent that the overall point of the activity is lost.
    • The individual’s preoccupation with perfectionism interferes with his or her ability to get things done (e.g., the individual is unable to finish a project because he or she has set overly strict standards).
    • He or she is overly devoted to work and productivity, which results in the exclusion of leisure activities as well as close relationships.
    • The individual is too conscientious and inflexible when it comes to their morals or ethics (not including those related to culture or religion).
    • He or she is unable to get rid of old or worthless objects even when they are of no sentimental value to the individual.
    • The individual is unwilling or hesitant to work with others unless they agree to follow his or her exact way of doing things.
    • He or she is rather stingy with money; the individual saves an excessive amount for future catastrophes.
    • He or she is overly rigid and/or stubborn.

Who Is at Risk of Developing Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder DSM-5 301.4 (F60.5)?

As previously mentioned, making an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder diagnosis can be quite tricky. Clinicians should not only discount a small degree of perfectionism but also behaviors that reflect customs, habits, and styles that may be attributed to the individual’s culture, as certain cultures place greater emphasis on work and productivity. Additionally, a few other disorder possibilities should be considered and assessed, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, hoarding disorder, and other personality disorders, which all share certain symptoms and/or characteristics.

When it comes to sex, it appears that obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is diagnosed about twice as often among males. So, other than males possibly having a higher risk of developing obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, there are not any additional risk factors for this mental illness.

Can Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Be Treated?

Like most other mental illnesses, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder can be effectively treated. The following are treatment options:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This form of therapy involves talking through any feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression with a mental health counselor. The counselor may encourage and work with you to shift your focus from work to recreational activities and relationships with family and other loved ones.
  • Medication: In some cases, doctors prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which can help decrease anxiety that comes with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. However, long-term prescription use isn’t typically recommended.
  • Relaxation training: This involves learning specific breathing and relaxation techniques that can help an individual deal with and decrease feelings of stress and/or urgency, which are common in those with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. For example, one might be instructed to take up yoga or Pilates.