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Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder


Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is a condition in which a person is preoccupied with rules, orderliness, and control.

Alternative Names

Personality disorder - obsessive-compulsive

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

This disorder tends to occur in families, so genes may be involved. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder most often occurs in men.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder should not be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), although the two conditions share some of the same symptoms.


A person with this personality disorder has symptoms of perfectionism that usually begin in early adulthood. This perfectionism may interfere with the person's ability to complete tasks, because their standards are so rigid. People with this disorder may emotionally withdraw when they are not able to control a situation.

People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder believe that their preoccupations are appropriate. They tend to be high achievers and feel a sense of urgency about their actions. They may become extremely upset if others disturb their rigidly ordered routines.

Signs and tests

Some of the common signs of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder include:

  • Excessive devotion to work
  • Inflexibility
  • Inability to throw things away, even when the objects have no value
  • Lack of generosity
  • Limited expression of affection
  • Perfectionism
  • Preoccupation with details, rules, and lists
  • Reluctance to allow others to do things


Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (for example, Prozac) may help reduce obsessions and compulsions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may also help. Medications in combination with talk therapy may be more effective than either treatment alone.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outlook for people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder tends to be better than that for other personality disorders. This may be because the self-imposed rigidness and control of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may prevent many of the complications such as drug abuse, which are common in the other personality disorders.

However, the social isolation common with this illness may lead to feelings of depression later in life.


Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if perfectionism is interfering with your job or relationships.


Moore DP, Jefferson JW. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. In: Moore DP, Jefferson JW, eds. Handbook of Medical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2004: chap 142.

Review Date: 10/17/2008
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Timothy A. Rogge, MD, private practice in Psychiatry, Kirkland, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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