Overly organized disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

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Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a mental condition in which a person is preoccupied with:

  • Rules
  • Orderliness
  • Control

OCPD tends to occur in families, so genes may be involved. A person's childhood and environment may also play roles.

This disorder can affect both men and women. It occurs most often in men.

OCPD has some of the same symptoms as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People with OCD have unwanted thoughts, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts are correct. In addition, OCD often begins in childhood while OCPD usually starts in the teen years or early 20s.

People with either OCPD or OCD are high achievers and feel a sense of urgency about their actions. They may become very upset if other people interfere with their rigid routines. They may not be able to express their anger directly. People with OCPD have feelings that they consider more appropriate, like anxiety or frustration.

A person with OCPD has symptoms of perfectionism that usually begin by early adulthood. This perfectionism may interfere with the person's ability to complete tasks because their standards are so rigid. They may withdraw emotionally when they are not able to control a situation. This can interfere with their ability to solve problems and form close relationships.

Other signs of OCPD include:

  • Over-devotion to work
  • Not being able to throw things away, even when the objects have no value
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Lack of generosity
  • Not wanting to allow other people to do things
  • Not willing to show affection
  • Preoccupation with details, rules, and lists

OCPD is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation. The health care provider will consider how long and how severe the person's symptoms are.

Medicines may help reduce anxiety and depression from OCPD. Talk therapy is thought to be the most effective treatment for OCPD. In some cases, medicines combined with talk therapy is more effective than either treatment alone.

Outlook for OCPD tends to be better than that for other personality disorders. The rigidness and control of OCPD may prevent many of the complications, such as substance use, which are common in other personality disorders.

The social isolation and difficulty handling anger that are common with OCPD may lead to depression and anxiety later in life.

Complications may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty moving forward in career situations
  • Relationship difficulties

See your provider or mental health professional if you or someone you know has symptoms of OCPD.

Personality disorder - obsessive-compulsive; OCPD

American Psychiatric Association. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013:678-682.

Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA, Hopwood CJ. Personality and personality disorders. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 39.

Gordon OM, Salkovskis PM, Oldfield VB, Carter N. The association between obsessive compulsive disorder and obsessive compulsive personality disorder: prevalence and clinical presentation. Br J Clin Psychol. 2013;52(3):300-315. PMID: 23865406 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23865406/.

Updated by: Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) - Psychiatric Disorders


Mark Zimmerman

, MD, Rhode Island Hospital

Last review/revision May 2021 | Modified Sep 2022

View Patient Education

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control (with no room for flexibility) that ultimately slows or interferes with completing a task. Diagnosis is by clinical criteria. Treatment is with psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

(See also Overview of Personality Disorders Overview of Personality Disorders Personality disorders in general are pervasive, enduring patterns of thinking, perceiving, reacting, and relating that cause significant distress or functional impairment. Personality disorders... read more .)

Because patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder need to be in control, they tend to be solitary in their endeavors and to mistrust the help of others.

About 2.1 to 7.9% of the general population are estimated to have obsessive-compulsive personality disorder; it is more common among men.

Familial traits of compulsivity, restricted range of emotion, and perfectionism are thought to contribute to this disorder.

Comorbidities may be present. Patients often also have a depressive disorder Depressive Disorders Depressive disorders are characterized by sadness severe enough or persistent enough to interfere with function and often by decreased interest or pleasure in activities. Exact cause is unknown... read more (major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder) or an alcohol use disorder Alcohol Toxicity and Withdrawal Alcohol (ethanol) is a central nervous system depressant. Large amounts consumed rapidly can cause respiratory depression, coma, and death. Large amounts chronically consumed damage the liver... read more .

Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may lessen even over a time period as short as 1 year, but their persistence (ie, remission and relapse rates) during the long term are less clear.

In patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, preoccupation with order, perfectionism, and control of themselves and situations interferes with flexibility, effectiveness, and openness. Rigid and stubborn in their activities, these patients insist that everything be done in specific ways.

To maintain a sense of control, patients focus on rules, minute details, procedures, schedules, and lists. As a result, the main point of a project or activity is lost. These patients repeatedly check for mistakes and pay extraordinary attention to detail. They do not make good use of their time, often leaving the most important tasks until the end. Their preoccupation with the details and making sure everything is perfect can endlessly delay completion. They are unaware of how their behavior affects their coworkers. When focused on one task, these patients may neglect all other aspects of their life.

Because these patients want everything done in a specific way, they have difficulty delegating tasks and working with others. When working with others, they may make detailed lists about how a task should be done and become upset if a coworker suggests an alternative way. They may reject help even when they are behind schedule.

Patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are excessively dedicated to work and productivity; their dedication is not motivated by financial necessity. As a result, leisure activities and relationships are neglected. They may think they have no time to relax or go out with friends; they may postpone a vacation so long that it does not happen, or they may feel they must take work with them so that they do not waste time. Time spent with friends, when it occurs, tends to be in a formally organized activity (eg, a sport). Hobbies and recreational activities are considered important tasks requiring organization and hard work to master; the goal is perfection.

These patients plan ahead in great detail and do not wish to consider changes. Their relentless rigidity may frustrate coworkers and friends.

Expression of affection is also tightly controlled. These patients may relate to others in a formal, stiff, or serious way. Often, they speak only after they think of the perfect thing to say. They may focus on logic and intellect and be intolerant of emotional or expressive behavior.

These patients may be overzealous, picky, and rigid about issues of morality, ethics, and values. They apply rigid moral principles to themselves and to others and are harshly self-critical. They are rigidly deferential to authorities and insist on exact compliance to rules, with no exceptions for extenuating circumstances.

For a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, patients must have

This pattern is shown by the presence of ≥ 4 of the following:

  • Preoccupation with details, rules, schedules, organization, and lists

  • A striving to do something perfectly that interferes with completion of the task

  • Excessive devotion to work and productivity (not due to financial necessity), resulting in neglect of leisure activities and friends

  • Excessive conscientiousness, fastidiousness, and inflexibility regarding ethical and moral issues and values

  • Unwillingness to throw out worn-out or worthless objects, even those with no sentimental value

  • Reluctance to delegate or work with other people unless those people agree to do things exactly as the patients want

  • A miserly approach to spending for themselves and others because they see money as something to be saved for future disasters

  • Rigidity and stubbornness

Also, symptoms must have begun by early adulthood.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder should be distinguished from the following disorders:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent, persistent, unwanted, and intrusive thoughts, urges, or images (obsessions) and/or by repetitive behaviors or mental acts that... read more : Patients with OCD have true obsessions (repetitive, unwanted, intrusive thoughts that cause marked anxiety) and compulsions (ritualistic behaviors that they feel they must do to reduce their anxiety-related obsessions). Patients with OCD are often distressed by their lack of control over compulsive drives; in patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, the need for control is driven by their preoccupation with order so their behavior, values, and feelings are acceptable and consistent with their sense of self.

  • Avoidant personality disorder Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD) Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by the avoidance of social situations or interactions that involve risk of rejection, criticism, or humiliation. Diagnosis is by clinical criteria... read more : Both avoidant and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders are characterized by social isolation; however, in patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, isolation results from giving priority to work and productivity rather than relationships, and these patients mistrust others only because of their potential to intrude on the patients' perfectionism.

  • Schizoid personality disorder Schizoid Personality Disorder (ScPD) Schizoid personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of detachment from and general disinterest in social relationships and a limited range of emotions in interpersonal relationships... read more : Both schizoid and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders are characterized by a seeming formality in interpersonal relationships and by detachment. However, the motives are different: a basic incapability for intimacy in patients with schizoid personality disorder vs discomfort with emotions and dedication to work in patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

General treatment Treatment Personality disorders in general are pervasive, enduring patterns of thinking, perceiving, reacting, and relating that cause significant distress or functional impairment. Personality disorders... read more of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is similar to that for all personality disorders.

Information about treatment for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is sparse. Also, treatment is complicated by the patient's rigidity, obstinacy, and need for control, which can be frustrating for therapists.

Psychodynamic therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Sometimes during therapy, the patient's interesting, detailed, intellectualized conversation may seem psychologically oriented, but it is void of affect and does not lead to change.

SSRIs Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) Several drug classes and drugs can be used to treat depression: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) Serotonin modulators (5-HT2 blockers) Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors... read more may be useful.

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Is creative disorder dangerous? Where does it come from and what to do with it

And what do you have on your tables, dear needlewomen and needlewomen? Perfect order or everything at hand, a lot of small details, in more books, magazines and a cup of coffee? To be honest, it happens to me in every way. Some orders are extended over several days. And then there is no point in cleaning. You get up from the table at night, and in the morning of the next day you sit down to work again. Here you have all the tools in combat readiness, and the materials are arranged by color, and the sketch is in the most prominent place. For me it's perfect. But my mother thinks that I have a "perpetual mess." "Creative, I correct, creative mess." nine0003

Where does it come from?

Ask creative people: where do they get the mess from? They will tell you that it somehow happened on its own. It is easier to work when everything is in sight. Plus there are a lot of materials. Everything does not fit in the shelves, so part of it moves to the table. For myself, I long ago determined the rule: buy exactly as many materials as I need for the next month. No purchases for the year ahead. Extra tools and bought for the future and creates a mess. nine0003

Clutter is the privilege of geniuses

Albert Einstein famously said, “If a messy desk means a messy mind, then what does an empty desk mean?” That's for sure! Geniuses know how to cut. And by the way, the mess on the desktop was inherent in many famous and very smart people. Among them are Mark Twain, Steve Jobs and the same Einstein. They just thought it was more productive that way. Who else agrees with this?

Albert Einstein's desk

Steve Jobs in his office

Mark Twain at his desk

creative mess?

Psychologists are against the mess. They argue that among the scattered, albeit necessary, things, working is dangerous for health. This impairs attention, dissipates concentration, because a person has to be distracted by dozens of small details. As a result, the owner of this very disorder can develop a real neurosis. Do you believe in such serious consequences? nine0003

Creative Mess Helps Creativity

The University of Minnesota recently completed a study. It was attended by lovers of order on the table and people who always have the same creative mess. It turned out that the latter are more creative, creative and risky people. Whereas lovers of order cannot boast of such qualities. The conclusion suggests itself: if you want to create productively, allow at least sometimes disorder into your life. nine0003

Is it possible to live in a creative mess?

Of course, you can live. Especially when there is an active creative process. But when you need to do routine work or very neat and meticulous work, it would be better to tidy up anyway. At least not for long. In this case, nothing will stop you from making a neat stitch, and your hand with a brush will not tremble from a tube of paint accidentally rolled under it. Alternate "disorder" - "order" and enjoy the balance in your work. nine0003

Are you for creative mess? Or "against"? Tell us what you usually have on your desktop.

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Principle 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 many examples - INMYROOM

Creative disorder is not always a beautiful excuse for chronic laziness, it is often a feature of a lived-in interior that distinguishes the well-thought-out furnishings of a hotel room from a residential building. However, the line between chaos and "development" is sometimes especially thin. Today we will consider the basic principles that will not allow you to fall into the abyss of a cluttered attic and maintain the comfort and individuality of your home.

Here are a few clues to guide any course of events:

1. Principle of organization. It can be a color, a theme, or just a feel that you are guided by. Find the link and make it obvious to everyone.

2. The meaning of finding a given thing in a given space can be both a necessity and a whim, but still do not place a thing on a shelf just to put something there.

3. Accuracy. Say a firm no to crumpled paper, dirty clothes, and unwashed dishes, or your clutter will no longer be creative. nine0003

Let's move on to living examples:

1. Books are often not things, but a way of life, but they should also be correctly entered into the interior, especially if there are few shelves and a lot of material. In this example, the books are matched in color in accordance with the ornament of the walls and textiles, unsuitable in shade are simply turned back.

2. Open shelving in the kitchen is a real challenge for lovers of order. You can leave only light-colored dishes and sort them by size, or you can put up with and organize objects in accordance with their purpose, not paying attention to color. This option will look especially advantageous in a plain kitchen. nine0003

3. And here the hostess managed to observe two principles at once - color and theme.

4. Are you an avid collector? Organize all things according to their purpose, and a mountain of junk will turn into a treasure chest.

5. And the collection, sorted by color, begins to acquire the features of an art object.

6. In this multifunctional room, all the difficult-to-match objects are connected by a single light blue tint. As long as there is a common component, even in such a tiny room littered with assorted objects, organization and, to a certain extent, decor will be visible. nine0003

7. You can make a dull and empty room much livelier by focusing all the highlights in one place, in this case a shelving unit.

Learn more