Humanistic Approaches to Positive Growth and Self-Acceptance

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are so preoccupied with order, perfection, and control that they lose all flexibility, openness, and efficiency

  • They set unreasonably high standards for themselves and others and, fearing a mistake, may be afraid to make decisions
  • These individuals tend to be rigid and stubborn
  • They may have trouble expressing affection and their relationships are often stiff and superficial

How Do Theorists Explain Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

Most explanations of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder borrow heavily from those of obsessive-compulsive (anxiety) disorder, despite doubts concerning a link between the two

  • Psychodynamic explanations dominate and research is limited
  • Freudian theorists suggest that people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are anal regressive
  • Because of overly harsh toilet training, people become angry and remain fixated at this stage of psychosexual development
  • To keep their anger under control, they resist both their anger and their instincts to have bowel movements
  • As a result, they become extremely orderly and restrained

Cognitive theorists have little to say about the origins of the disorder, but they do propose that illogical thinking processes help maintain it

People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder do not usually believe there is anything wrong with them.  They are therefore unlikely to seek treatment unless they also are suffering from another disorder, most frequently anxiety or depression.

Treatments for Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

  • Individuals with this personality disorder often appear to respond well to psychodynamic or cognitive therapy
  • A number of clinicians report success with SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)

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Friedman, H.S. & Schustack, M.W. (2012), Personality: classic theories and modern research (5th ed). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
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Ryckman, R. M. (2013). Theories of personality (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
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