Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder: What Is It And What Are Its Main Causes?

Do you know someone who is too perfectionist and organized? If you think it’s excessive, go in and find out if you might have obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Obsessive compulsive personality disorder: What is it and what are its main causes?

Being organized, competent, meticulous and perfectionist are qualities that are usually valued positively in the work environment. Dedication, effort and productivity are always highly valued socially. However, people who have obsessive-compulsive personality disorder They are also characterized by having these characteristics and in fact, they rise quickly in their work due to their perseverance and effort.

Everything mentioned so far could lead us to think that having this disorder is a great advantage. However, these qualities taken to the extreme become totally maladaptive behaviors. In this article you will discover what this disorder is about, its causes and what treatments are effective.

What is obsessive-compulsive personality disorder?

He obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (also called ananchastic personality or OCPD), like other personality disorders, can be diagnosed from the age of 18 and is characterized by having a stable course. That is, they usually present a permanent pattern of both thought and behavior. It is the most common personality disorder, it is estimated that between 2.1 and 7.9% of the general population suffer from it, being twice as common in men than in women and more common in Western culture.

Specifically, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by an excessive and constant concern with perfectionism and control. This demand for details makes them inflexible, rigid and ineffective in what they do. Furthermore, this demand they have on themselves leads them to have little time for social relationships.

Although its name may be confused with OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder ), these two disorders are usually easily distinguished at the time of diagnosis. The main difference is that in the TOCP neither obsessions neither compulsions In fact, apart from the name, the only similarity they present with respect to symptoms is the inability to throw away used and useless objects, even when they have no sentimental value.

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Symptoms of anankastic personality disorder (or OCPD):

According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and ICD-10 (International disease classification), people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder often have the following symptoms:

  1. Concern for details: Are worried people for the smallest detail of a task, list, schedule, order, organization, etc. to the point that they forget the main objective of the activity. Furthermore, they very strictly follow the rules and rules social. It is for this reason that in their social interactions they are characterized by being polite, correct and formal but very distant and with little expressive body language.
  2. Perfectionism: They are excessively perfectionist so they avoid making any type of mistake at all costs. However, this fixation on the smallest details ends up interfering with the performance of their tasks and decision-making because they waste too much time ensuring that everything goes perfect since any mistake is totally intolerable for them.
  3. Excessive dedication to work: They tend to consider that any activity other than work is a waste of time. In fact, having free time is more stressful for them than having a long list of tasks to do and it is very difficult for them to enjoy and relax. That is why going out with friends makes them very uncomfortable, leading them to regret and feel guilty for not doing anything “useful.”
  4. Inability to delegate tasks: They are very critical of the work of others (except for those people who assume authority). They think that their way of doing things is the best and do not tolerate others having different ways of doing tasks. They demand the same level of perfectionism from others, and because no one lives up to their strict ways, they are perceived as incompetent, irresponsible, and lazy. It is for this reason that they do not tolerate delegating work to other people.
  5. Rigidity and stubbornness: Rigidity is a characteristic that is reflected in his entire personality. They consider that any type of emotional expression is synonymous with immaturity, which is why impulsive people They are not usually to their liking. They have a great sense of norms, hierarchies and rules, considering that people who transgress them, no matter how minor that transgression may be, deserve to be punished. Furthermore, they do not tolerate new ways of doing or seeing things and feel very uncomfortable with the new, the uncertain and the ambiguous.
  6. Indecision: It is very difficult for them to evaluate tasks objectively since they always find some fault. This, added to the fact that they have little imagination, makes it difficult for them to make decisions and establish priorities, leading them to become blocked in new situations that require a decision.
  7. Miser style: They tend to be excessively careful with expenses since they think that at some point a catastrophe may occur and although they make sure to cover their basic needs and those of their loved ones, they are reluctant to spend on things that go beyond the basics.
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Causes of OCPD:

Although it is difficult to determine the exact causes of psychological disorders, it has been shown that biological factors have little weight in the development of this disorder, with environmental factors playing a more relevant role in the appearance of OCPD. Specifically, the most notable are:

  1. Parental overcontrol: Excessive firmness and repression from parents towards the child can be an important factor in the development of OCPD. This type of parenting style is characterized by punishing or responding in a hostile manner to any type of behavior of the child.
  2. Learning responsibilities: A very strict parenting style can influence the development of this disorder. When a child is taught that he must strictly fulfill his obligations, be orderly, polite and that it is irresponsible to play certain games, he learns a great sense of responsibility and with the aim of avoiding guilt he ends up acting in a meticulous.
  3. Learning compulsive behavior: In order to avoid punishment, the child learns to behave according to the adult’s demands by being excessively obedient and responsible. This learning can also occur through the observation of a parent who is very scrupulous detail-oriented and perfectionist.


Excessive concern about complying with rules, being punctual, etc. It leads them to suffer a lot of stress. In fact, they are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems, headaches, ulcers, muscle tension and high blood pressure than people who do not have this disorder. It is for this reason, added to the excessive fear of making mistakes, that it is important to seek professional help.

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In general, psychological treatment usually focuses on:

  • Training in relaxation techniques with the aim of reducing stress and tension.
  • Techniques to control thoughts obsessive in order to avoid excessively reviewing the tasks they perform.
  • Training in problem solving so that they can learn to establish priorities and have a broader repertoire of possible solutions.
  • Replace maladaptive thoughts with those that are healthier.
  • Strategies to improve social skills in order to improve your empathy and be able to solve interpersonal problems more effectively.

Remember that in any situation that causes you a lot of stress and/or discomfort, it is important to turn to a professional with the aim of acquiring strategies to manage your difficulties as well as prevent the worsening of our physical and mental health.