Disorders related to brain and personality are very different from each other. But confusion might arise when the names for the two problems are very similar, for example, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). Many people might consider both to be synonymous or might be unaware that both the disorders even co-exist.
The difference lies in the word ‘personality’. OCPD is more often mistaken for OCD. While the names are confusingly similar, the disorders are very much different. OCPD is a personality disorder, whereas, OCD is not. OCD is defined primarily in terms of specific behaviors, but OCPD, on the other hand, is better understood as an expression of an individual’s entire personality, philosophy and worldview.
OCD is an anxiety disorder, a condition of the brain often characterized by intrusive, anxiety-producing thoughts. Obsessions are the thoughts and urges associated with OCD, such as recurrent and anxious thoughts about germs or personal safety. Excessive hand-washing or door-checking are common examples of compulsions that are associated with OCD.
OCPD is a syndrome that characterizes a person’s overall orientation towards life. A person with OCPD demands that everything be organized according to a particular system or method that he wants. The disorder is more common among men than women, and most psychologists agree that it cannot be accurately diagnosed until about 18 years of age.
Characteristics of OCD
In OCD, a person experiences recurrent obsessions and compulsions.
Following can be Obsessions:
- Thoughts, images, or ideas that are recurrent and unwanted, causing extreme distress
- Thoughts are impossible to control even if coming from one’s own mind
- Distressing enough to cause you to try to get rid of the obsessions with other thoughts or actions, like compulsions.
Following can be Compulsions:
- Behaviors that can be carried out again and again like cleaning, checking, counting etc.
- Aimed at getting rid of your anxiety or to stop a feared situation, such as death of a loved one, from happening.
- Unrealistic solutions to problems they are supposed to prevent.
Characteristics of OCPD
OCPD reflects a chronic, maladaptive pattern of dealing with other people and life challenges characterized by:
- An excessive need for perfectionism and control over all aspects of your environment.
- Preoccupation with details, rules, lists, order or organization to the extent that you often forget the major point of the activity.
- Excessive devotion to work at the expense of time spent with your friends or family.
- Rigidity with respect to matters of morals, ethics or values.
Differences between OCD and OCPD
There are definite overlaps between OCD and OCPD. However, they are also starkly different. Some of the differences are mentioned below:
- The biggest difference between OCD and OCPD is the presence of true obsessions and compulsions in OCD; while the same is not present in OCPD.
- Although people suffering from OCD and OCPD can greatly involve in tasks, minutely detailing everything and with keen observation; OCD uses the tasks to reduce anxiety of obsessional thoughts, while OCPD uses these tasks for, may be increasing efficiency.
- People with OCD feel distressed while carrying out certain tasks but people with OCPD find them beneficial and necessary.
- OCD people spend more time in these tasks or rituals than people with OCPD.
Although there are clear conceptual differences between OCD and OCPD, in practice these disorders can at times be difficult to tell apart. Moreover, there is always a possibility that both the disorders might co-exist in an individual. Whatever be the case, it is important to seek the help of a qualified medical practitioner. Long-term psychotherapy is the primary treatment for both the disorders. Combinations of medication and therapy may be more effective to treat people battling with the disorders.
If you or your loved one is a victim of OCD or OCPD, or both, please don’t hesitate to seek medical help for a proper diagnosis. The symptoms of mental disorders can ruin a routine life and can seriously impede day-to-day activities. The Florida Mental Health Helpline is a one-stop resource for enquiring about the best medical treatment facilities curing such disorders. Please chat online or call 866-846-5588 for help.