Obsessive–compulsive disorder  

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety, or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions. Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts; aversion to particular numbers; and nervous rituals, such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress. The acts of those who have OCD may appear paranoid and potentially psychotic. However, OCD sufferers generally recognize their obsessions and compulsions as irrational, and may become further distressed by this realization.

OCD is the fourth most common mental disorder, and is diagnosed nearly as often as asthma and diabetes mellitus. In the United States, one in 50 adults suffers from OCD.    Obsessive–compulsive disorder affects children and adolescents as well as adults. Roughly one third to one half of adults with OCD report a childhood onset of the disorder, suggesting the continuum of anxiety disorders across the life span. The phrase obsessive–compulsive has become part of the English lexicon, and is often used in an informal or caricatured manner to describe someone who is excessively meticulous, perfectionistic, absorbed, or otherwise fixated.  Although these signs are present in OCD, a person who exhibits them does not necessarily have OCD, and may instead have obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), an autism spectrum disorder, or no clinical condition. Despite the irrational behaviour, OCD is sometimes associated with above-average intelligence.  Its sufferers commonly share personality traits such as high attention to detail, avoidance of risk, careful planning, exaggerated sense of responsibility and a tendency to take time in making decisions. Multiple psychological and biological factors may be involved in causing obsessive–compulsive syndromes. Standardized rating scales such as Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale can be used to assess the severity of OCD symptoms.

Obsessive–compulsive personality disorder

Obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency. 


Signs and symptoms

The primary symptoms of OCPD can include preoccupation with remembering and paying attention to minute details and facts, following rules and regulations, compulsion to make lists and schedules, as well as rigidity/inflexibility of beliefs and/or exhibition of perfectionism that interferes with task-completion. Symptoms may cause extreme distress and interfere with a person's occupational and social functioning.  According to the National Institute for Mental Health:

OCPD has some of the same symptoms as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, people with OCD have unwanted thoughts, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts are correct.

Most patients spend their early life avoiding symptoms and developing techniques to avoid dealing with these strenuous issues.


Some, but not all, patients with OCPD show an obsessive need for cleanliness. This OCPD trait is not to be confused with domestic efficiency; over-attention to related details may instead make these (and other) activities of daily living difficult to accomplish. Though obsessive behavior is in part a way to control anxiety, tension often remains. In the case of a hoarder, attention to effectively clean the home may be hindered by the amount of clutter that the hoarder resolves to later organize.

While there are superficial similarities between the list-making and obsessive aspects of Asperger's syndrome and OCPD, the former is different from OCPD especially regarding affective behaviors, including (but not limited to) empathy, social coping, and general social skills.

Perception of own and others' actions and beliefs tend to be polarised (i.e., "right" or "wrong", with little or no margin between the two) for people with this disorder. As might be expected, such rigidity places strain on interpersonal relationships, with frustration sometimes turning into anger and even violence. This is known as disinhibition. People with OCPD often tend to general pessimism and/or underlying form(s) of depression.This can at times become so serious that suicide is a risk. Indeed, one study suggests that personality disorders are a significant substrate to psychiatric morbidity. They may cause more problems in functioning than a major depressive episode.


Research into the familial tendency of OCPD may be illuminated by DNA studies. Two studies suggest that people with a particular form of the DRD3 gene are highly likely to develop OCPD and depression, particularly if they are male. Genetic concomitants, however, may lie dormant until triggered by events in the lives of those who are predisposed to OCPD. These events could include trauma faced during childhood, such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse, or other types of psychological trauma.