Personality disorders are a distinct category of psychiatric disorders. Personality disorders refer to a chronic, inflexible, and maladaptive pattern of relating to the world. This maladaptive pattern is evident in the way the person thinks, feels, behaves, and most importantly, how they relate interpersonally to other people. For more detailed information about personality disorders please refer to our article entitled "Understanding Personality Disorders."
It is quite possible to have both a personality disorder and an obsessive-compulsive or related disorder. However, one personality disorder in particular appears to be most similar to the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It even shares a similar name: obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). Therefore, it is important to distinguish between these two disorders.
Despite the similarity in names, the connection between OCD and OCPD is not as strong as one would think. OCPD is defined as the preoccupation with perfectionism, orderliness, and control. Individuals with OCPD tend to be inflexible and rigid. They pay extreme attention to details and rules so much so that it can interfere with their ability to complete a task. They become so excessively devoted to work and being 'productive,' that they neglect their friends and family. Their preoccupation leaves little room for recreational or leisurely pursuits.
OCPD affects people's functioning in many ways. First, OCPD can negatively affect someone performance at work. They frequently do not complete projects because they get lost in the details. Similarly, their futile attempts to achieve perfection cause them to miss important deadlines. OCPD also affects someone's social functioning. Because of their excessive devotion to work and 'productivity,' they do not form, and/or maintain, meaningful social relationships.
Although OCD and OCPD share some related features, they are two different disorders. As such, it is possible for a person to have both disorders. The primary distinction between these two disorders is the presence of obsessions and compulsions, as with OCD; or the absence them, as with OCPD. Research indicates that most individuals with OCD do not have OCPD (Baer & Jenike, 1992).