Difference Between OCD and OCPD

OCD and OCPD have to be understood as two different disorders between which certain differences can be identified. OCD means Obsessive Compulsive Disorder whereas OCPD means Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. This article attempts to provide a better understanding of the two disorders while highlighting the differences that can be identified between the two.

What is OCD?

OCD refers to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This can be understood as an anxiety disorder where a person would engage in repetitive behavior. If the person disengages from this behavior, the anxiety level will rise hence making it difficult for the person to function in a normal, healthy manner. For example, constantly washing one’s hand can be considered as such a repetitive behavior. The person is obsessed with the thought of washing his hands, and has the compulsion to do so. A person who suffers from OCD is aware that it is unrealistic but finds it difficult to restrain from engaging in the behavior. When OCD reaches a very high level, the person might encounter difficulties in carrying out his routine behavior. For example, if a person is constantly worried whether he locked the door, it is going to affect his daily routine. However, this can be treated with therapy and medication.

Constantly washing hands is an OCD behaviour

What is OCPD?

OCPD refers to the Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. A person who suffers from OCPD is not flexible and can be viewed as a perfectionist. The main characteristics of such a person are the strict adherence to rules and also the need for order. These people do not like to give responsibility to other people because they want everything to be perfect. These people are not usually aware of this condition, unlike people who suffer from OCD. They believe that it is normal that a person desires to be a perfectionist and adhere to rules all the time. An individual who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder faces a great number of difficulties in his personal as well as professional life. This is mainly because they are reluctant to give authority and responsibility to others. This affects all types of relationships. However, such a person can be extremely devoted to his work because of the need for perfection which may assist the person in his professional life especially with the excessive preference for rules. Another characteristic that can be seen in a person who suffers from OCPD is anxiety and discomfort when rules and regulations are being broken. OCPD can be caused due to genetics and experiencing strict parenting styles as child. For example, if a child is being constantly punished for bad behavior and for not performing well in school, there is a possibility that this can affect the child’s personality in a negative manner in later life. In order to treat patients who suffer from this disorder, both medication and therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy are used.

A child constantly punished for his mistakes can become an adult with OCPD

What is the difference between OCD and OCPD?

• In OCD, the focus is on behavior whereas, in OCPD, it is on the entire personality.

• A person who suffers from OCPD is a perfectionist who enjoys adhering to rules and regulations.

• A person who suffers from OCD is aware that his obsessions are not realistic but cannot discontinue.

• A person who suffers from OCPD is not aware that his personality and behavior are not normal.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Washing hands by Arlington County (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Spanking by  BArchBot (CC BY-SA 3.0 de)