What Are the Differences Between OCD and OCPD?

Question: OCD and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: What's the Difference?


Although obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) are often confused, there are a key number of differences between these disorders.

  • OCD is an illness with symptoms that change in severity over time, while OCPD reflects an overly rigid personality style that does not change much over a person's lifetime.
  • OCPD is not associated with the obsessions and compulsions that are so prominent in OCD. Although people with OCD and OCPD might both carry out repetitive behaviors, the underlying motive is very different. While someone with OCD might repeatedly write out lists or organize items around the home to keep a catastrophe from taking place, someone with OCPD would be more likely to do these activities to increase their efficiency or productivity.
  • While people with OCD usually want to get rid of their symptoms, it is not uncommon for people with OCPD to see nothing wrong with their behavior and to feel that "other people" are the problem. Likewise, although people with OCD will usually seek help for the distress caused by their obsession or compulsions, individuals with OCPD will usually seek treatment because of conflict between themselves and family and friends related to their need to have others conform to their way of doing things.
  • People with OCPD often have very rigid views on "right versus wrong," and this rigidity may extend to spending habits; people with OCPD are often described as miserly. Neither of these is a defining characteristic of OCD.
  • In comparison to those with OCD, people with OCPD tend to be more ruled by perfectionism and have a higher need for order and control in both their personal and professional lives. It is not uncommon for individuals with OCPD to become irritated by others who do not value order, perfectionism and exactness to the same extent that they do. Because of this perfectionism, it is not uncommon for people with OCPD to overly devoted to work.


    American Psychiatric Association. "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., text revision" 2000 Washington, DC: Author.

    Continue Reading