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Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (1)

This personality disorder is not related to the similarly-named condition known as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The latter disorder is one of the anxiety disorders while today’s article describes a more pervasive personality disorder.

Terry is a typical sufferer of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). A gifted scholar, Terry has been doing post-graduate study at the same university at which he graduated over nine years ago.

He has a set routine every morning, rising at the same time and completing a series of morning tasks such as reading the newspaper, taking a shower, eating the same breakfast and catching the same commuter bus. This is all done in a set order and at a set time. If an unexpected event should interfere with this routine, Terry becomes upset and will either sulk and withdraw or turn belligerent. This is because Terry finds the stress of a change in routine hard to tolerate. There is comfort and peace in the rigid structure of his day.

Although very gifted intellectually, his personality disorder has interfered with the expected success that one so intelligent would hope to achieve. This is because of the presence of successive routines once he gets to work. It takes him most of the morning to go through the usual start-up procedures, such as downloading mail, sorting through letters, and detailing the goals for the day, that a more functioning person could achieve in less than 30 minutes.

This is the reason why he is in trouble with the head of department over the length of time it is taking him to complete his thesis. He is unable to delegate responsibility for some of the lesser tasks involved in his departmental work to others, as he cannot let go of the need for things to be done “his way”. He has alienated many of the staff in the department due to his rigidity and argumentativeness and insistence that he is right.

On the home front, his wife is threatening divorce because of his lack of input into the family finances due to his constant procrastination and inability to hand in his thesis and earn “real” money. He has also started several projects around the family home but has failed to finish any of them, adding to further marital tension. Terry is so preoccupied with the details of every task he undertakes, from making the coffee to writing a research paper, that there are few actual achievements in his life.

His children no longer wish to play with him, describing him as “boring.” Instead of “just going with the flow,” Terry has to plan and meticulously execute every play opportunity with his children. Now at 11 and 9, they have no time for his excessive and time-consuming plans. Terry’s condition is causing him job-related, marriage and interpersonal problems.

Next article: more on OCPD

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