I avoid walking to cafes 10 minutes away because I’m scared that’s too much time out of my workday. I’m afraid to spend money on basic necessities. I’m obsessive about food. I haven’t received any psychological diagnosis regarding these things, but when I read descriptions of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), I think, “holy crap, that’s me!”
“If you feel that you are a perfect person in an imperfect world, you probably have OCPD,” Laurie Endicott Thomas, MA, ELS, author of Don’t Feed the Narcissists! The Mythology and Science of Mental Health, tells Bustle. “Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is not the same thing as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Both conditions are based on some sort of underlying fear. However, OCD is classified as an anxiety disorder, whereas OCPD is classified as a personality disorder. People with OCD typically realize that they have a mental disorder, whereas people with OCPD typically do not.” It’s not known, Thomas adds, whether OCPD is primarily genetic or a combination of learned behaviors.
Whether or not I actually have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, I do know I have an obsessive-compulsive personality. And that can be a useful framework to think about things, especially in the interest of noticing when my hard work and organization have crossed the line into neurosis.
Here are some signs, according to experts, that you might have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, or at least an obsessive compulsive personality.
1You Follow Self-Imposed Rules Even When It Makes No Sense
People may follow certain rules in order to get things done, but people with OCPD have rules they follow even when it makes no sense, says Thomas. They may start to feel restricted by their own self-imposed rules, but they can’t get out.
2You’ve Struggled With Disordered Eating
There’s a large overlap between OCPD and eating disorders, says Thomas. People with it “can have extraordinary self-control and a remarkable ability to delay gratification,” she says. Someone with OCPD may have the same mentality toward work and money, for example, that an anorexic does toward food: Deprive yourself of your desires to achieve a goal, then when you reach it, set an even higher goal.
3Your Mind Sucks The Fun Out Of Every Activity
If you plan a trip to your favorite city but get so obsessed with budgeting and scheduling that you don’t look forward to it (*raises hand*), that’s a classic OCPD behavior. People with OCPD can suck the joy right out of everything through excessive attention to logistics, Camille Drachman, MSW, LCSW, SEP, clinical director for Sierra Tucson, tells Bustle.
4You’re So Perfectionistic, You Can’t Get Anything Done
This is another example of people with OCPD following rules even when it’s counterproductive. They may try their best to perfect their work in the interest of being star employees, but then they miss deadlines, harming their work. People with OCPD are often perfectionists to the point that they can’t complete a task, says Drachman.
5You Can’t See Other People’s Perspectives
People with OCPD can be as rigid in their views as they are in their habits, often looking down on people who don’t agree with them, says Drachman. They may find themselves getting into a lot of arguments where they and the other person are just talking past each other.
6You Hoard Possessions Or Money
Many people with OCPD engage in compulsive saving, skimping on necessities even when they have more money than they know what to do with, says Drachman. They also may hoard objects. These hoarding behaviors are often done “just in case” they need something.
7Everything Has To Be Done Your Way
People with OCPD tend to have trouble delegating tasks because they need things done their way, says Drachman. More generally, they tend to be very stubborn and unwilling to accommodate others’ preferences.
If you (like me) are thinking “that sounds like me!”, you’re not alone — around 7.8 percent of people have OCPD, according to a study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. Treatments for OCPD are the usual: therapy, and sometimes, medication. The good news is, the prognosis is better than most personality disorders, so the chances of improvement after getting treatment are high.