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Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (2)

In the previous article on this disorder we looked at the story of Terry, an intelligent postgrad student whose career had stalled and marriage was failing due to the presence of obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCPD).

As explained in the previous article, OCPD is unrelated to the more well-known obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which commonly involves behaviors driven by obsessive thoughts, such as repeated hand washing and checking of locks on doors and windows.

Today we look at the case of Shaun who possesses many of the characteristics of Terry. His preoccupation with his job and the minute details of his daily life leave him with little time for his friends and family. In fact, Shaun has no friends. His conversation is almost completely restricted to his job, which others find uninteresting especially as he relates the minutest details of his day-to-day working life which would interest nobody. He seems to be oblivious to the effect he has on others.

Both Terry and Shaun are “masters of control” although the condition is also common among women. Sufferers frequently hoard objects, many of which have little use or are, in fact, useless or broken. Shaun’s house and garage is littered with old books, pieces of machinery, rusted and broken hardware, and other junk. While many people hold on to useful objects “just in case,” sufferers of this disorder collect and amass material that is clearly unusable. Yet they are unable to part with it, and will even lose a marital partner as a result of this condition rather than deal with the mess in the backyard.

Yet, in is daily life, Shaun is meticulous. So meticulous that he has to get up in the morning several hours before he leaves the house so that he can accommodate the routines that form part of his morning rituals. Like Terry, he has a sent pattern and order to his morning routines and can become upset if something happens to make his plans change.

Shaun is also miserly with his money. So much so that he will use and re-use cling wrap and objects to what he calls “excessive spending” by his wife. He questions most things that are placed in the shopping trolley and frequent arguments ensue over expenditure. Shaun’s marriage is also in trouble, all due to the problem he has with regulating the thoughts that accompany this personality disorder.

In the next article in this series, we will look at the diagnostic criteria for OCPD.

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