written by: Keren Perles
• edited by: Diana Cooper
• updated: 10/30/2010
So what's the difference between obsessive compulsive personality disorder vs OCD? The two can look the same on the outside, but they are surprisingly different on the inside.
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The Main Difference
The main difference between obsessive compulsive personality disorder vs OCD is that the first is classified as an Axis II disorder in the DSM IV, and the second is classified as an Axis I disorder. Axis II disorders are often apparent at a very young age, and they usually do not bother the person who has them. In contrast, Axis I disorders often appear during adolescence or early adulthood, and they cause significant discomfort or distress to the person who has them.
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Symptoms of OCD
The main symptoms of OCD include intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and actions (compulsions), both of which cause intense anxiety and frustration to the person who has them. The person with OCD recognizes that these obsessions and compulsions are a product of their own making, and they understand that their attempts to use their compulsions to control their obsessions is futile. In other words, a person who obsesses about having killed someone on the highway will have the compulsion of checking and rechecking the side of the road to ensure that no corpse is lying there. Although the person may realize that these thoughts are ridiculous and out of touch with reality, they are unable to ignore the compulsions. They also realize that the compulsions will not help, and they often feel frustrated that they are forced to repeat the cycle over and over again.
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Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
A person with OCPD may seem to show some of the symptoms of OCD, but they believe that these obsession and compulsions are actually helpful for their daily lives. People with OCPD involve themselves excessively with lists, schedules, rules, and other organizational techniques to an obsessive extent. They often seem to be perfectionists, who are so strict with their checklists and schedules that "efficiency" seems to override all else, including the main purpose of the original project. People with OCPD may also seem to put productivity on a much higher priority level than basic leisure activities and relationships with other people. They may seem rigid and stubborn, and they may hoard objects, possibly categorizing them obsessively.
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Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder vs OCD
Although many of these symptoms do seem to be compulsions, and the thought processes of people with OCPD may seem similar to the obsessions of those with OCD, the person with OCPD may not be unhappy with life in general. After all, people with OCD recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are ruling their lives and often wish that they could be free of the disorder so that their lives would run more smoothly. The disorder itself bothers them. People with OCPD, on the other hand, feel that they have every right to act the way they do. They view their lists and schedules as signs of an orderly and productive life, and they feel that they have correctly placed productivity and efficiency at the top of their priority lists. At the same time, people with OCPD need help just like those with OCD, because both will encounter problems with relationships and with basic day-to-day life, such as holding down a job or getting a degree.
Many people confuse Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This series discusses the differences between the two, and discusses various aspects of OCPD.