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How to Cope with Family Members who have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

written by: Alicia Miller • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 11/5/2010

Coping with obsessive compulsive personality disorder family members is never easy. In this article, you'll learn how to cope and manage when a loved one suffers from this difficult and debilitating personality disorder.

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    The Effect of OCPD on Family Members

    OCPD is different from OCD. The characteristics of OCPD include having a rigid moral or ethical code, adhering to inflexible rules, being a perfectionist and a hoarder, having a tendency to micro-manage everything and an unwillingness to share tasks unless a person performs them specifically as requested.

    Unlike people who suffer from OCD, who have some level of insight into their disorder, people with OCPD actually believe that their rigid, inflexible habits and ways of viewing the world are correct. It's easy to see why OCPD has a tremendous effect on family members. According to the International OCD Foundation, family members frequently feel criticized and controlled by the person with OCPD. They may feel tortured and conflicted by the incessant or unreasonable demands made by the person with OCPD. The OCPD individual may hold family members accountable for anything that goes wrong, refusing to look at their own actions as possible causes of a failure. They make attempts to maintain control and take total responsibility for tasks or events.

    At times, they may treat their family members as though they are inferior, acting rudely and with little respect or concern for others. This is generally extremely difficult to deal with, as family members may not know how to cope.

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    Coping With Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder Family Members

    While it's not easy to cope with a family member who suffers from OCPD, it's not impossible. One of the most important things you can do is to encourage your family member to seek treatment. The person with OCPD will often refuse to get professional help on their own, as they think there is nothing wrong. They believe that there is something wrong with everyone else. Still, they will often seek treatment if they are pushed enough by family members, according to Irving B. Weiner and W. Edward Craighead in their book, "The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology, Volume 3." Cognitive-behavioral therapy may have some benefit, so it may be worth your while to encourage treatment.

    Show support to your family member instead of criticizing or offering negative feedback. It can be difficult to keep calm, as OCPD people have a tendency to invoke a range of hostile emotions, but reacting with anger or hostility will only exacerbate the situation. Try to maintain boundaries as best as you possibly can, and realize that this person has no control over their behavior. They're not acting this way on purpose. Realizing this may help you to better understand their actions and behaviors.

    It may also be helpful for you to seek your own counseling as a form of support. Your therapist can provide validation and support and educate you on certain aspects of the disorder that you may not already be familiar with. It will also provide you with a forum to vent your feelings and frustrations instead of taking them out on your OCPD family member.

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    References

    International OCD Foundation: Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

    "The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology, Volume 3"; Irving B. Weiner and W. Edward Craighead; 2010

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