obsessive compulsive *PERSONALITY* disorder – what is it + what does it look like in the workplace?

On today’s #mentalhealthmonday, I answer:

  • What IS obsessive compulsive personality disorder?
  • What is the difference between obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?
  • What are elements of OCPD that can be equated with “positive” traits in the workplace/academia? (In the video above, I call these “pros” of OCPD – that’s really not what I mean!! I really mean that these are some ways that the mental illness can be PERCEIVED as a good thing. Or manifestations that don’t SEEM as harmful.)
  • @youseemnormal, I’m a perfectionist. Does that mean I have OCPD?
  • How can people with OCPD struggle in the workplace/academia? (I call these “cons” in the video. They’re really more like struggles or obstacles.)
  • How is there evidence of my OCPD in my job application materials? 😱 see just how tied my academic and professional “success” and my OCPD are…

What is obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)?

OCPD is a personality disorder “characterized by perfectionism…caused by an underlying desire for the need to control their environment and complete things to an unreasonably high, (self-determined) ‘standard’. Often the behavior of individuals with OCPD is driven by their fear of being perceived by others as imperfect, incompetent, or unsuccessful – leading them to engage in compulsive behaviors, such as adhering to a stringent set of rules, routines, or ideals about the way things ‘should be done’.”

How is OCPD different than OCD?

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions and repetitive behavior out of fear and anxiety. A person with OCD typically realizes their excessive behaviors.
  • Obsessive compulsive personality disorder is that – a personality disorder, rather than an anxiety disorder. The element of repetition is not a main symptom. OCPD is a mindset of rigidity and adhering to a right and wrong and high standards (perfectionism). Someone with OCPD may not even realize there’s a problem because they think that their thinking and way of doing things is normal.

What does OCPD look like in the workplace/academia?

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

the OCPD workplace motto

There are many manifestations of OCPD that appear as “positive” results of the mental illness. In the workplace specifically, they look like this, for me:

  • commitment to any responsibility I take on, I will see it through
  • commitment to my work, reliable, dependable, things don’t slip through the cracks
  • quality work, incredibly detailed work
  • big on agendas, procedures
  • strong obligation to right and wrong — that is, my idea of right and wrong
  • can be an encourager and can help others perform better

There are also many struggles of having OCPD in the workplace. These struggles make it difficult to complete tasks efficiently and to work with others. These include:

  • the inability to make decisions quickly. Without knowing which path will lead you to the best result, you become stuck in place with the fear of not being perfect, competent and successful.
  • perfectionism slows down the work process and PRODUCTIVE work
  • others around them may feel inferior and like they can’t live up to this person’s standards
  • burnout common because of the time and energy an individual spends on workworkwork
  • high criticism of themselves and others; nitpicking
  • can be hard to bounce back from mistakes; extreme rumination

Evidence of my OCPD in my job application materials

  • 4.0 GPA, never a B
  • letters of reference – these mention work ethic and how I am improvement driven
  • in my portfolio, I include my Enneagram type (1, the perfectionist or the reformer) and StrengthsFinder results (includes achiever, responsibility)

Hope this helped!

I hope you all learned something from this video and blog post about OCPD in the workplace. Feel free to keep the conversation going the comments, or over on my Instagram.

Further reading and articles mentioned:

LinkedIn article


Psychology Today article

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