Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

Friends cast in first season. Front: Cox, Anis...

Friends cast in first season. Front: Cox, Aniston. Back: LeBlanc, Kudrow, Schwimmer, Perry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The name Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) often gets confused with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) but it is definitely not the same.  It is however the same in that there are obsessive and compulsive traits, thoughts, and actions.  For instance, OCDs are obsessed with being clean and therefore do compulsive behaviors such as excessive hand washing.  Generally speaking the OCD is limited to a few areas or environments.  OCPD is not and as a personality disorder it is pervasive in nearly every environment.

 

So what is OCPD?  Here is the technical DSM-V definition:

 

  • Identity:  Sense of self derived from work or productivity
  • Self-direction:  Rigid, unreasonably high, and inflexible internal standards of behavior
  • Empathy:  Difficulty understanding the ideas, feelings, or behaviors of others
  • Intimacy:  Relationships seen as secondary to work and productivity
  • Rigid perfectionism:  Insistence on everything being flawless, perfect, without errors; believing there is only one right way to do things; difficulty changing ideas or viewpoints; preoccupation with details, organization, and order
  • Perseveration:  Continuance of the same behavior despite repeated failures

 

The practical definition looks more like this:

 

  • Over-devotion to work or hobby
  • Not able to throw things away, even when the objects have no value
  • Lack of flexibility in opinions
  • Lack of generosity, money is hoarded for catastrophes
  • Doesn’t like to delegate to others because they won’t do it right
  • Not very affectionate
  • Preoccupation with details, rules, and lists even for enjoyable activities
  • Perfectionist standards interfering with task completion
  • Overly conscientious
  • Stubborn

 

Do you remember the hit TV show “Friends”?  Courteney Cox who played Monica on the show is a perfect example of OCPD.  Not only did she possess some OCD habits but she also demonstrated OCPD at home, work, and with her friends.  The combination of the two disorders made for many funny scenes as it helps to bring awareness to the rigidity and consistency of OCPDs and how it impacts the people around them.

 

So how do you deal with a person who might have OCPD?  Here are a few suggestions:

 

  • When they are right, say the words, “You are right”.  They love that.
  • They have a tendency to repeat the same point over and over, don’t change your opinion.
  • They are hyper-logical so use logical not emotional arguments.
  • Always ask for their opinion and don’t assume you already know the answer.
  • Your time with them will go long because they talk so much, anticipate it.
  • Use the phrase, “Let me think about that” when you don’t want to keep talking about the subject.
  • Resist the temptation to join them in an anxious obsessive moment.

 

The good part about having this disorder is that OCPDs will be excellent employees, volunteers, or workers in whatever environment that excites them.  The hard part is getting accustomed to rigid scheduling, over preparation, and lack of compassion for those who don’t perform at their level.  Try learning some new communication skills or brushing up on logic skills before you engage in your next discussion with an OCPD.

 

 

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

How Fear Fuels Obsession

Fear Obsession CycleHave you ever felt as though you were doing everything you could yet no matter how hard you tried things got worse and worse?  Are you caught in a trap that leaves you feeling helpless, frustrated and discouraged?  Do you find that your behavior which is careful and cautious to you is perceived by others as obsessive and often repels others instead of drawing them closer?  Certain emotions such as fear can add fuel to an obsessive cycle that you leaves you feeling trapped and out of control.

It all starts with a painful event such as abuse by a relative, abandonment by a friend or rejection from a job.  Each of these events can spark fear directed at another person for their part in the event or directed at you for failure in handling the event properly.  This feeling of fear is uncomfortable so you counteract it with a desire to over control yourself, others or your environment.  So you turn to the obsession of your choice: cleaning, checking, washing, excessive order, repeating the same conversation, repetitive thoughts, hoarding, perfectionism, reassurance seeking, rituals or counting.  Other people in your life don’t like your obsession so they in turn withdraw from you.  You are now confused by their response as you were just trying to avoid the fearful or anxious feelings.  This in turn results in another painful event such as a fight, more distance in relationships or further loss.

Acknowledge.  The first step to stopping the crazy cycle is acknowledging that you are repeating the same behavior over and over.  You can’t change what you won’t acknowledge.  So admit it.  You are doing the crazy cycle.  This is not the time to blame others for the reason you are doing the crazy cycle; this is the time to accept responsibility for your own crazy behavior.  Everyone is responsible for their own behavior.  This maybe a new concept to you as our culture is quick to blame others, parents, churches, organizations, companies, governments, and even nations for bad behavior.  But this is not constructive thinking, it is destructive thinking.  You are responsible for your own behavior.

Stop at Fear.  There is nothing wrong with feeling fearful.  The Bible acknowledges that you will be fearful but you don’t have to control the fear by becoming controlling.  Whether you are acting scared, anxious or fearful or avoiding those feelings by being controlling, fear is still controlling your behavior.  It is OK to be fearful when you are hurt, when someone hurts you, or when someone hurts someone else.  Just don’t take it to the next step and become controlling; rather deal with the fear by confronting how you feel and taking responsibility for the actions that follow.  Just saying the words, “I am fearful or anxious but I’m going to act responsibly” can restore that out of control feeling to feeling more controlled.

Know Your Obsession.  What is your obsession of choice?  More than likely you have more than one obsessive behavior.  Not all of the obsessive behaviors are listed so taking an inventory of your go-to obsessions is extremely helpful.  Many times you will go directly from the painful event and skip right past the fearful emotion to the obsessive behavior because you have developed a conditioned response similar to Pavlov’s dogs.  In Pavlov’s experiment, he trained dogs to salivate at the ringing of a bell by first giving food along with ringing the bell.  Before long, he only needed to ring the bell for the dogs to salivate.  You have done the same thing with your obsession.  You no longer need to feel fear to justify the obsessive behavior; rather you go straight from the painful event to the obsession.  If you know your obsessive behaviors, you can trace backwards to the fear anytime you feel the desire to become controlling and stop it from going any further.

You can take responsibility for your own behavior and stop the crazy cycle from destroying your life.  You do not have to be a victim to your obsessions or continue to allow painful events determine how you will respond.  Remember, if you make a mistake along the way and slip backwards, it is never too late to turn around no matter what others around you say.  Who you are is NOT defined by your mistakes.  Who you are is defined by your character which can be shaped by your mistakes only if you let it.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

How to know when your child needs therapy

When your child struggles for a period of time, has difficulty in school, seems different at home than at school, or acts inconsistently with their personality, therapy designed specifically for children can help them overcome these challenges.  Most children experience difficulties from time to time while growing up.  Some of these challenges are physical (their changing bodies), some are mental (their school work), some are social (their friendships), some are environmental (their home life) and some are spiritual (their religious affiliations).  For some children, these challenges are easily faced and they continue to have a positive outlook on their future.  For other children, these challenges become road blocks and they seem to be stuck in a negative cycle.

As a parent, understanding your child’s challenge and how to best motivate and encourage them is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship with them.  Children take their cues from their parents so if a challenge is overwhelming for the parent, the child is likely to respond similarly.  However, if a parent is understanding, concerned and empathetic the child is likely to respond positively.  Sometimes just becoming aware of your child’s challenges and how best to deal with them will make all the difference in your relationship.

If your child has been dealing with abuse, developmental issues, attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorderoppositional defiant disorder, mood disorders, or post traumatic stress disorder then therapy is beneficial for both the parent and the child.  Other struggles include social pressure, divorce, depression, anger, eating disorders, addictions, self harm, and grief.  Some of the indications that your child may need therapy are:

  • change in appetite
  • nervous more than usual
  • difficulty concentrating
  • problems at school
  • aggressive or angry
  • nightmares
  • trouble sleeping
  • mood swings
  • seems depressed
  • loud noises are bothersome
  • regressing to younger behavior
  • refusing to talk
  • fears separation from parents
  • change in friends
  • socially withdrawn
  • personality change
  • problem with life transition (death in the family, divorce, move, new school)

Most of the time, therapy is not a long process for a child as they adjust and adapt more quickly than adults.  The combination of therapy for the parents and the child is doubly beneficial as it helps the entire family unit to be on the same page.  If therapy is not timely, some of the challenges can be so overwhelming for a child that they feel defeated and this belief can last a lifetime.  It is never too late to begin the therapy process with your child; it is only too late if never started.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.