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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Vs. Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder sound the same and so many people, Including people in the field of psychology, often mistake one for the other. However, both disorders are distinct mental health conditions with different features and treatment plans.

The key difference is that the latter is a personality disorder, A mal-adaptive pattern of thought and behaviour that colours how one relates to the environment while the former is characterized by intrusive thoughts.

Let’s go deeper into the characteristics of both disorders and how they differ.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is defined by the presence of recurrent obsessions or compulsions that interfere with a person’s ability to function properly.

Obsessions are not everyday worries or concerns, but persistent and often irrational thoughts, images or ideas that recur in one’s mind without going away. Obsessions may be one’s own thought that they find difficult to control or suppress. However, The thing with these obsessions is that they cause significant distress to the individual and compel them to act in irrational ways to dispel those thoughts.

Compulsions are irrational and ritualistic activities one performs to dispel anxieties or obsessions. Examples of compulsions include:

· Constant cleaning, hand-washing, double-checking, or sweeping.

· Repetitive behaviours to prevent something terrible from happening, even when there is no evidence of it happening.

An example is constant use of scrubbing or bathing to eliminate perceived germs that have contaminated the hands.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

In COPD, An individual neither has obsessions nor compulsions but a strict – and often irrational – adherence to orderliness. There is nothing wrong with adhering to strong principles as long as there is some room for flexibility and it does not get in one’s way. People with OCPD continue to maintain their strong adherence to orderliness even at the expense of their efficiency.

OCPD is characterized by the following personality traits:

· An excessive need for perfection and control over the environment and their interpersonal relationships.

· A rigid preoccupation with rules, lists and order such that they miss the whole point of an activity.

· A strict devotion to work and career at the expense of their family and loved ones.

· Hoarding of items that do not have any value to them any more.

· Inflexible moral and ethical values even when it affects their performance.

However, A person with OCPD may go on to succeed in their career.

“Their perfectionism keeps them at a high standard,” says Dr Simon Rego, PsyD, Chief of Psychology at Montefiore Medical Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY. “That said, others may find the individual with OCPD difficult to work or live with because of their style of operating,” he added.

Key Differences between OCD and OCPD

Although there is considerable overlap between both disorders, there are four major distinguishing features:

· OCD is defined by irrational obsessions and compulsive behaviours. Conversely, In OCPD, there are no obsessions or compulsions; The person just has a strict and seemingly unshakable adherence to one’s principles, even when they seem not to be helping.

· People with OCD are distressed by these disturbing obsessions and compulsions and try to seek help for them, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts and behaviour are correct.

· People with OCD often know that these obsessions and compulsions are irrational while people with OCPD do not and often do not understand how their behaviours affect other people.

· The symptoms of OCD may change with the severity of the anxiety but in OCPD, The thought pattern is believed to be normal and it guides their behaviour over a long period.

Treatments for OCD and OCPD

OCD is best treated with anti-anxiety medications and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

The CBT technique used to treat OCD is exposure and response prevention, In which the patient is exposed to the situation they are trying to avoid and learns to cope with it rather than try to eliminate it with compulsive behavior.

This form of therapy aims to lower the patient’s sensitivity and response to the same stimulus that causes them distressing obsessions. Through this process, the person learns to notice these obsessions and learn not to act on them in fear.

Treating OCPD also involves CBT techniques (but a different type) and not medications. CBT teaches the person to re-evaluate their thoughts and behaviour and make positive adjustments. It helps the person identify the distress that is driving the need to achieve perfection. CBT also helps the person understand the unattainable standards they live by and how it robs them of a truly happy life.


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