What’s the Difference between Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is a serious personality disorder that is often confused with the more commonly known Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  These two disorders sound similar in name, and are often confused with each other, yet they are really two very different and very distinct disorders.

The main distinction between the two disorders is that OCD sufferers perform ritualistic behaviors, and those persons with OCPD tend to be perfectionistic in many areas, causing their relationships with others to suffer greatly.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder does not damage personal relationships. Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder drastically impacts interpersonal relationships, to their detriment.

Definition of OCPD:

This personality disorder is in the Cluster C category of personality disorders, along with anxious or fearful personality disorders, avoidant personality disorder, and dependent personality disorder.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition  DSM-V, OCPD can be diagnosed as follows:

“A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency.”  This disorder begins in early adulthood and presents with four or more of the following fixations (American Psychiatric Association, 2014):

  • Preoccupation with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules
  • Perfectionism which interferes with the ability to complete a project because of self-imposed overly strict standards
  • Over conscientious, scrupulous, inflexible in matters of morality, ethics, or values
  • An inability to discard worn-out or worthless items which have lost all value, including sentimental value
  • An inability to delegate tasks to others without the assurance that the other person will strictly adhere to his method of accomplishing the tasks
  • Miserly spending style; money tends to be hoarded for future catastrophes
  • Rigid and stubborn

Definition of OCD

According to the DSM-V, many disorders fit the category of OCD; these include,

Body-dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder, trichotillomania, and excoriation disorder.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is marked by two distinctive features – obsessions and/or compulsions.

  • Obsessions are recurring and intrusive thoughts, urges, and images, that cause heightened anxiety and distress.
  • Compulsions are repetitive behaviors, commonly involving hand washing, checking, ordering, counting, repeating words silently, or the like.

Common obsessions and compulsions involve themes regarding cleanliness, safety, memory doubts, need for order and/or symmetry, aggressiveness, sexuality, and scrupulousness.

Some Distinctions and Similarities between OCD and OCPD


Treatment protocols for the two disorders are vastly different. Treating OCD involves treating anxiety-caused symptoms, while treating OCPD involves treating a personality disorder. Personality disorders involve characterological deficits, while anxiety disorders do not.

You do not treat a person with anxiety by teaching them how to have improved character; with personality disorders, character is at the core. Well, that is not totally accurate; usually, attachment disruptions are at the core of a personality disorder; attachment issues involving parental lack of attunement and empathy. Cognitive Behavior-type therapies can be used to treat both disorders, but the underlying assumptions are different.


American Psychiatric Association (2014). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Berman, C. W. (2014). 8 Tips on How to Recognize Someone With Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/carol-w-berman-md/obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder_b_5816816.html

Greenberg, W.M. (2017). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Retrieved from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1934139-overview

Van Noppen, B. (2010). Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) Retrieved from https://iocdf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/