4 MIN READ | Clinical Psychology

Dennis Relojo-Howell

OCD vs OCPD: The Key Differences

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Dennis Relojo-Howell, (2021, September 9). OCD vs OCPD: The Key Differences. Psychreg on Clinical Psychology. https://www.psychreg.org/ocd-ocpd-differences/
Reading Time: 4 minutes

OCD and OCPD may sound similar, but they are not the same. Both conditions create distress in unique ways. Both these disorders particularly interfere with a person’s thought patterns, feelings, and actions. Understanding the differences is very important for diagnosis and subsequent treatment. This blog has clear insights on how they are different and what can be done about them.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). Even though their abbreviated names sound similar, both the disorders are different. Their symptoms differ along with their treatment plan. With the right treatment, both can be well managed. The inconvenience caused by their symptoms can be significantly reduced, and the disruption in life brought by them can be minimized. Recently many innovative treatment methods are being introduced to tackle the symptoms and improve the overall quality of functioning of the patients. For example, ketamine therapy is one such treatment being offered by Psych Associates of Maryland. This novel treatment is gaining popularity and traction.

Personality disorders fall under a distinct category of psychiatric disorders. They are chronic, inflexible, and have maladaptive patterns. These patterns are etched in the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. They also have a distinct trait of behavior when they interact with other people. Such disorders can be effectively treated through behavioural health services offered by many reputed institutions.

What is obsessive-compulsive personality disorder?

OCPD is defined by strict adherence to orderliness, control, and perfectionism. People with OCPD are likely to obsess over even the smallest details of their life. They like to be in control of those details all the time. They restrict their flexibility and openness to new experiences.

Since it is a personality disorder, it involves personality traits that are long-held, atypical, and problematic. People with this condition find it difficult to relate to others. Their devotion to perfection and absolute control over things makes their life miserable.

What are the symptoms of OCPD?

People with OCPD act restrained and restrict their emotions. They adhere to their own defined rules with rigidity and inflexibility. They create strict orders and lists for tasks. They desire to pull the reins of their relationships to be in complete control.

OCPD also makes them lack empathy. They are extremely dedicated to their work and desire perfection in every detail. They are lost, with no self-identity, and sense of direction.

What causes OCPD?

The causes of OCPD are not clearly identified yet. Some theories explore many possibilities. One theory links it with attachment styles. It says that OCPD may be observed in those children who had overprotective parents. It may be observed in those who didn’t develop emotions or empathy early in their childhood. Some others say that it might also be observed in those who weren’t able to form a secure connection with their parents.

And then there is always a biological or hereditary component. Having relatives with OCPD can likely  pass on.

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Individuals with OCD constantly suffer from frequent, upsetting thoughts in a loop. They try to control these thoughts by forming particular behaviors or rituals. These obsessions generate a great deal of anxiety. They are intrusive, unwanted, and recurrent. To combat and escape the obsessions, they go a long way to fulfil their compulsion.

People with OCD are aware of their obsessions and compulsions, yet they feel tortured by their own behaviour. OCD is known to develop during adolescence. Symptoms can be seasonal, they get better at times, and worse at other times. It’s atypical for OCD to start in the later stages of life. Without treatment, the condition carries the potential to turn chronic.

OCD symptoms are distressing because even when they are known to impair the normal functioning of life, people suffering from it are still compelled to perform with all their compulsions. Someone obsessed with cleanliness may perform unwanted cleaning rituals to stay clean and avoid contamination. Eventually, these behaviors start impacting relationships and living with people diagnosed with OCD becomes a challenge.

How are OCD and OCPD different?

Despite their similarity in names, there is no strong connection between both the disorders. OCPD is particularly defined for preoccupation with perfectionism, orderliness, and control. People with OCPD are annoyingly inflexible and rigid. Their extreme attention doesn’t allow them to satisfactorily complete a task.

OCD is different, it has obsessions and compulsions that affect every part of the person’s life when they have. They are the hallmarks of OCD, this is not that prevalent in OCPD. A person with OCPD may be rigid in behaviors, but they will not indulge themselves with repeated compulsions.

There is also a difference in the level of insight and self-awareness. People with OCD are aware of their condition and how it’s affecting them. Those with OCPD believe their thoughts are normal, for them, it’s others who need to change.

OCD affects almost all aspects of life. OCPD may result in improved performance in school or work, but the relationships are likely to suffer.

People with OCD see the need for treatment, but the ones with OCPD think others around them need it more than they do.

Seeking out treatment as soon as symptoms arise is very essential to improve the prognosis for either of the disorders. With OCPD or OCD, the presence of co-occurring conditions like depression and anxiety can complicate the treatment, therefore resulting in a poorer prognosis.

There are many therapies aimed at reducing the symptoms of OCD. If you are seeking help for yourself or for someone you know who has OCD, try to know more about a very effective low dose intravenous Ketamine treatment therapy for such psychiatric disorders.


Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He tweets @dennisr_howell.

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