Is it OCD or OCPD?

OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and OCPD (Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder): two disorders that have a pretty similar name. But are they actually similar? And what are the differences between them? This is what I am trying to find out about in today’s post.

When I told my friends I had OCD, some of them would be pretty surprised. Why?

Because they used to think that OCD sufferers were perfectionist, always punctual and that they loved planning everything. And then, there’s me who never gets to work on time and who enjoys traveling around the world without booking accommodation in advance.

My friends were not alone with their misconception about OCD. There are a lot of people who think that people with OCD are super organized and are extremely worried about details. But why do people think we are like this?

Well, OCD has multiple subsets and there are people with OCD who’re obsessed about cleaning and planning. But I believe that one of the biggest reasons behind the misconceptions is that people do not always know the difference between OCD and OCPD.

First of all, one thing that I need to tell you is that I do not have OCPD so I won’t be able to tell you what it exactly feels like – all I know is what I have heard from friends and what I have read in books and on the internet. Also, if you have OCPD and you think that some of the things I wrote are not correct/offensive, please leave a comment.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

OCPD is a personality disorder that is characterized by extreme perfectionism, order and neatness. People with OCPD will also feel severe need to impose their own standards on their outside environment.

And now, let’s look at what OCD is:

A disorder that causes repeated unwanted thoughts or sensations (obsessions), or the urge to do something over and over again (compulsions).

So if we just look at the two definitions, we can see that they’re pretty different from each other. While the main features of OCPD are perfectionism and neatness, if you have OCD, it will not necessarily mean that you’re obsessed with cleaning or that you love to have everything organized. People with OCD can obsess about a lot of different things other than order, cleanliness and adherence to the rules.

The big difference is the way you feel

People with OCD are typically distressed by their thoughts. Like as you may have noticed, I usually compare OCD to an evil monster who sits on my shoulder and whispers terrifying things into my ears. So I am definitely embarrassed by my OCD.

And then there’s my friend who cleans the kitchen floor multiple times a day and is a perfectionist. So if he told you about the things he normally does, you would easily think that he had OCPD. But he does not – how can you know?

He does not clean the kitchen floor a hundred times a because he thinks it is not clean enough, but because his OCD tells him that if he does not clean it one more time, a terrible bacteria will make his whole family sick. Does he know that this is extremely unlikely? He does, but it does not necessarily mean that he can stop acting on his compulsion.

While as far as I know (and if any of you have OCPD, please feel free to correct me in the comment section). People with OCPD believe that their actions have an aim and purpose.

Symptoms of OCPD

I have written a few posts about the symptoms of OCD (okay, let’s be honest, my whole blog is pretty much about my OCD symptoms and I really hope you won’t get bored of reading it.) So this time, let us take a look at the symptoms of OCPD.

As I mentioned earlier, I do not have OCPD so I have done a little bit of research to find out more about the symptoms. If you think I have missed anything important, please leave a comment.

And one important note: OCD is a very creative mental disorder so people who’re suffering from it may have symptoms that are very similar to the ones of OCPD.

An overwhelming need for order

I guess this symptom is the reason why it can be so difficult for many people (sometimes even for mental health professionals) to make a difference between OCD and OCPD.

OCD involves unwanted thoughts and images as well as obsessions. And common OCD obsessions include repetitive arranging, organizing and lining up of objects. But people who have OCD do not keep their homes organized because they love arranging things, but simply because they have to. You just have the feeling that something terrible will happen if your bookshelf is not arranged in a certain way. You’re likely to know that you’re being irrational but it does not mean that you can stop doing it. It’s like a kind of “magical thinking”. On the other hand, OCPD is characterized by excessive concern with orderliness.

Rigid adherence to moral and ethical codes

Everyone has their own views and beliefs but people with OCPD have rigid adherence to their moral and ethical codes. And this is something extremely different from what OCD feels like.
Do not get me wrong! By saying this, I do not mean that people with OCD have no moral codes. But what I mean is that one of the main features of OCD is doubt – if you have OCD, you’ll question even the most fundamental things in your life, while people with OCPD will be absolutely sure that their ethical code is “the right one”.

Being hardworking

I have always been a workaholic. But not because of my OCD. Some people with OCD are hardworking, some are not. And some of us can be obsessed with our jobs. Like losing your job is a scary thought that can easily force you to check your sent emails nine hundred times a day – just to be sure you have not written anything creepy. But being hardworking is not the main thing about OCD.

An overwhelming need to be punctual

Pretty much the same as above. There are OCD sufferers who feel an overwhelming need to be punctual but just look at me: I am always late – and I never even stress about it.

A sense of righteousness about the way things should be done

When you have OCD, there are things you just have to do in a certain way. But not because you think it is the right way, but because you’re afraid that if you do not lock the door the “way you should” something terrible will happen.

Finding it hard to express your feelings

While there are OCD sufferers who may find it difficult to express their feelings, this is definitely not an OCD symptom. But it is a symptom of OCPD.

I can only speak about my experiences but I have always found it relatively easy to talk about the way I felt and I never really try to hide my emotions.

Not being able to throw things away

Hoarding may be a symptom of OCPD and at the same time it may also be a symptom of OCD. So, something that we have in common. Hoarding related to OCD is something totally unwanted: you do not do it because you find it enjoyable, but because you just can not stop doing it. Like what if you throw something away and you’ll need it in the future? What if you throw something extremely valuable away – without even knowing it?

And a few more OCPD symptoms

  • rigid mannerisms
  • being extremely frugal with money
  • a fixation with lists
  • extreme attention to detail

How common is OCPD?

Estimates for the prevalence of OCPD in the general population range from 2.1% to 7.9%. A large U.S. study found a prevalence rate of 7.9%, making it the most common personality disorder. While OCD affects over 2% of the population.

Can you have both OCD and OCPD?

It is possible for a person to have both disorders.

The gender gap

An interesting fact that I came across is that men are diagnosed with OCPD about twice as often as women. When it comes to OCD, the overall prevalence between males and females is equal.

One thing we have in common

Living with a disorder is not an easy thing. Both OCD and OCPD can make a person’s life very difficult. And let’s not even talk about the things that these conditions can force us to do – such as irrational compulsions or extreme hoarding.

Further reading

Want to read more about OCPD or OCD? Check:

Important note

I am not a certified therapist – just a guy who’s living with mental disorders. And believe me: self-diagnosis is never a good idea. If you think you may have OCD or OCPD, seek professional help!

Your thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been living with OCD for most of my life, but I do not have OCPD. So if there’s anything that you think would be important to mention about this disorder or if you have any experience that you’d like to talk about – please feel free to share it in the comment section or send an email to markwester92@gmail.com

As you know there’s one thing that I love doing more that writing my stories: reading yours.

Thank you

Special thanks to Ashley (check out her blog: https://mentalhealthathome.org/ ) for giving me this idea to write about! πŸ™‚

Blessings,

Mark

18 thoughts on “Is it OCD or OCPD?

  1. You covered this very well! I’ve never come across prevalence numbers for OCD, and I didn’t think it would be quite that high. No wonder the general idea (although not the name) of OCPD is more widely recognized than OCD.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Mark :
    A very interesting and comprehensive post.
    Years ago, when I was working on my doctorate, I was told by a professor that most people completing an academic doctorate have some OCD symptoms.
    I haven’t researched any statistics on that, but I agree with that theory, since the research requires extreme attention to detail, and being willing to check things a lot.
    I always enjoy your posts . Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sally,

      I am glad you have found it useful πŸ™‚

      This is a very interesting theory and I totally agree with you: completing an academic doctorate definitely requires extreme attention to detail and I am sure a lot of people who have completed a doctorate have OCD – it would nice to have statistics on that. One of my friends has just completed his PHD and he is also suffering from OCD.

      What did you study? πŸ™‚

      Me too I always enjoy your posts and thank you for reading my blog πŸ™‚ it means a lot to me.

      Blessings

      Mark

      Like

      1. Hi Mark ! Thanks for confirming my suspicion that lots of people with a PhD have some form of OCD. I studied Sociology at the University of Toronto. And when the detail work got too overwhelming I would do something physical like go for a run.
        Thanks, Mark. πŸ€—

        Like

  3. Thank you Mark! You just described the discrepancy between me and OCD, which has often bothered me!

    A lot of that also overlaps with symptoms of autism, which is interesting (this is always the case between these things, isn’t it!).

    Things I agree with from your list:
    Need for order

    Rigid adherence to moral and ethical codes β€” this is huge for me!
    Being hardworking β€” big
    An overwhelming need to be punctual β€” also huge!
    Extreme attention to detail

    Most of the others I’m the opposite on. I’ll learn more about it! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Robin,

      That is right – a lot of symptoms overlap. Like sometimes it is hard for me to decide if I am anxious because of my OCD or because of my GAD.

      Do you think you might have OCPD?

      As for me, the only thing that I can say is that I am pretty hardworking but on the other hand I have never been good at organizing things and I always struggle to get to work on time – this is something I really have to work on.

      Cheers

      Mark

      Like

  4. “feel severe need to impose their own standards on their outside environment.”

    β€”I guess this is probably true for me, too. However I AM right on a lot of things 😁.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha πŸ˜€ i guess if you are right on a lot of things there is nothing wrong with that.
      I do not really like to impose my own standards on other people because I never know if I am right or not….like…typical doubting OCD. There are things that I am pretty sure about but at the end of the day I will always ask myself how I can actually be sure about those things…what if I am not πŸ˜€

      Like

  5. That was very well explained. I guess people get OCD and OCPD confused a lot. I didn’t know OCPD was the most common personality disorder or are those figures for the US only? I really would have guessed that personality disorders as BPD would be more common.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Glad you found this useful.
      Oh yes! In my country, when people talk about OCD, they will usually mean OCPD.
      It was also pretty surprising to me! Like I would not have thought it was so common. I also thought BPD would be more common. Like I definitely know more people who’re diagnosed with BPD than ones with OCPD.

      US only. This was the source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15291684-prevalence-correlates-and-disability-of-personality-disorders-in-the-united-states-results-from-the-national-epidemiologic-survey-on-alcohol-and-related-conditions/

      Would be interesting to see whether it’s different for other countries.

      Liked by 1 person

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