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Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Contents of this page:


Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Alternative Names    Return to top

Personality disorder - obsessive-compulsive

Definition    Return to top

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

Causes    Return to top

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.

Symptoms    Return to top

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.

Exams and Tests    Return to top

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

Treatment    Return to top

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.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

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.

Possible Complications    Return to top

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

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

References    Return to top

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.

Update Date: 10/17/2008

Updated 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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