We all have that friend (or are that friend) who likes certain things just so. Maybe it is an extra clean house, maybe it is how their food is arranged on their plate, or maybe their closets are arranged by clothing type, colour, and season. It could be almost anything and you will often hear them say, “Oh – that’s just my OCD”.
But is it?
While in reality, you friend probably does not have a diagnosable disorder, today’s blog will look at Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and how it differs from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) – a disorder that although it shares a similar name is actually a very different disorder than OCD.
OCD falls under the category of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders and is closely related to anxiety. In fact OCD was classified as an anxiety disorder until fairly recently. This is very different from OCPD, which is classified as a personality disorder. In this comparison, we will give just a brief overview of OCD. Future blogs will look at OCD in more detail.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
OCD is characterized by the presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both.
- Recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are intrusive and unwanted at least some of the time. These tend to cause a great deal of anxiety and distress for the person.
- The person tries to ignore or supress these thought, urges or images, or to neutralize them with another thought or action (performing the compulsion).
- Repetitive behaviours or mental acts that are done in response to an obsession.
- They are meant to prevent or reduce the anxiety or distress of the obsession or to prevent a dreaded event or situation from happening. However, they are not connected in a realistic way to what they are designed to prevent or are clearly excessive.
- Repetitive behaviours include things like hand washing, ordering, or checking, while mental acts include things like counting, repeating specific words etc.
These obsessions or compulsions are time consuming, taking up more than an hour a day, or they cause significant distress or impairment in important areas of the person’s life such as their social life or work life.
Also, the symptoms cannot be explained by another mental disorder, a medical disorder, or as the result of a substance (e.g. substance abuse or drug interaction).
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
OCPD on the other hand is a personality disorder that is more about compulsions than obsessions. A personality disorder is an ongoing pattern of inner experience and behaviour that is markedly different from the person’s culture. It is pervasive, inflexible, and stable over time. Personality disorders start in adolescence or early adulthood and in time lead to distress or impairment.
OCPD involves a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental control and a loss of flexibility, openness, and efficiency. OCDP is diagnosed when four or more of the following criteria are seen:
- A preoccupation with rules, lists, order, organization etc. The preoccupation is to the extent that the point of the activity is lost.
- Perfectionism to the point where tasks cannot be completed because standards can never be met.
- The person is excessively involved in work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities, family, and friends (unrelated to economic need).
- The person is inflexible, overly conscientious, and scrupulous about things dealing with morality, ethics, or values (not related to religious or cultural identification).
- The person is unable to get rid of worn-out of worthless objects, even when they have no sentimental value.
- Will not delegate tasks unless the other agrees to do it to their exact specifications.
- Becomes miserly toward both themselves and to others. Money is hoarded for future catastrophes not used for daily needs and wants.
- The person demonstrates rigidity and stubbornness.
People with OCPD are attempting to maintain control rather than reducing distress or preventing catastrophes. People with OCPD tend to not be aware that others become very annoyed with the delays and inconveniences that result from their behaviours, rigidity, and unwillingness to compromise.
Now, back to our original question. Is it OCD? Probably not. That tendency to have everything in its place and a place for everything is not part of the OCD equation. It may be more related to OCPD, but it’s probably not that either – unless it is accompanied by at least three of the other criteria. It is far more likely that your friend just has some of those quirks that we all have, but not to the point of a diagnosable Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
If on the other hand, you suspect that you or someone close to you may have OCD, OCPD or anything else that is preventing you or them from living life to the fullest, please seek help.
About the Author
Linda Krochak Krochak is a registered psychologist practicing in Medicine Hat, Alberta.