People With Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (Ocpd) Can Impact Negatively on Relationships
OCD and OCPD. These conditions are often confused.
Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder or OCPD can and does have a negative impact on relationships. Living with someone who has this disorder can be frustrating and emotionally draining as their obsessions and perfectionism become harder to bear.
There are some misconceptions between OCPD and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) as the two are regularly confused. Both are anxiety disorders but people with OCPD do not know they suffer a mental condition, it is a disorder of their personality. To them their traits are normal and everyone else is considered lazy, misguided and generally wasting their time on trivial matters like socialising.
OCD is not OCPD.
Many people think that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is the same condition as Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. They are two different conditions, one being a condition of anxiety (OCD), the other being a personality trait condition. People with OCD understand they have a disorder which is impacting negatively on their life, people with OCPD have no idea their condition impacts negatively on their life, or anyone else's for that matter.
When Enough is Enough.
George and Marion's marriage is over.
Marion is a good friend of mine and I have witnessed her struggles with her husband George (who suffers OCPD) for 20 years. Outwardly their marriage seemed as stable a marriage as could be expected of one lasting so long, but inwardly (for Marion at least) there was a time bomb ticking away.
"My frustrations reached boiling point, as much as I love George I just couldn't live with his obsessions and his warped sense of perfection any longer."
This was Marion a few months ago when she told me she had left her husband after almost 20 years of marriage. Tears were streaming down her eyes as she recounted her story to me as she had done many times in her life.
"He doesn't understand what I need from our relationship and he never will, he can't. George's mind is wired differently, the OCPD is ingrained and without help such as cognitive therapy and some anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drugs, things will never change between us."
When George was diagnosed ten years ago he refused any form of treatment stating he did not wish to change his personality, he had been this way all his life. Marion had fallen in love with him the way he was, why did she want him to change now?
Relationships are difficult to navigate when both partners are like-minded but when you enter into a relationship with someone you know is very different to you there are bound to be problems in the long run. Marion had grown and evolved over the years they were married but George had remained the same almost childlike person so friction was inevitable. George seemed to need mothering more with each year of their marriage.
Once George was diagnosed and Marion had a 'name' for his quirkiness she thought it would make a difference to her, at least she knew what she was dealing with. She realised George's behaviour was a mental issue so he wasn't making aspersions about her character or how she performed certain tasks. This kept their relationship on an even keel for quite some time as every time George's quirks did get 'under her skin' Marion would simply remind herself of his OCPD.
So What Changed?
It was a gradual slide into two separate lives, Marion tried to fill her emotional void with various hobbies and spending time with girl friends rather than George. On the other hand George just kept doing things the same as he always had - work, home, playing some sport and generally oblivious to the fact that Marion had a whole separate life.
Marion became less and less emotional towards her husband, to the point they were living almost as flatmates. When she confronted George with the status of their relationship he was surprised as to why she was upset, he didn't understand Marion's emotional needs.
When she asked George whether he loved her he replied, "I married you didn't I, isn't that what love is? It's what you wanted wasn't it, you said 'yes' when I asked you to marry me?"
The look of confusion on George's face made her pity him but after years of keeping her feelings in check and trying to justify his behaviour, she just didn't have the energy to try to fix a relationship which had nowhere to go. She asked him for a divorce.
Information on Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
- ASD Services | Autism Spectrum
Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is the leading provider of autism-specific services in Australia. OCPD symptoms are similar to Aspergers Syndrome so Autism foundations may be able to help with treatments and resources.
- OCD vs. OCPD: Differences, Symptoms, and Treatment
OCD is generally recognisable by its sufferers. OCPD is not treated as often due to the fact that sufferers do not recognise that they have a condition that controls their lives.
Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder: A Defect of Philosophy, not Anxiety
TREATMENT OF OCPD CAN HELP.
Relationships such as Marion and George's can be saved with the right treatment but in their case George's diagnosis was too little too late. Marion's emotional needs became more important to her and she wanted to feel a connection to her partner, something George was just unable to give.
As a friend of both of them I was upset their marriage was over but unfortunately I wasn't surprised. Even as a friend I found George very rigid and difficult with limited conversational skills, so I imagine Marion, apart from being bored, became emotionally exhausted.
I'd like to say I'll be there for both of them but I really don't think George would accept any help, least of all from me. Marion does keep in touch but she is trying to get her life together and right now she needs time to heal.
[See my hub "OCPD - Decision making with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). Aspergers is a Similar Condition." to read more of their story.]
TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE
Dr Sarah Edelman has many books and CDs in which she discusses ways to cope with OCPD and other anxiety disorders. One of the ways Dr Edelman helps people is by using cognitive therapy. If you'd like more information, see her book "Change Your Thinking" as well as her other products, just click on the link.
OCPD Can Be Controlled if Diagnosed Early.
The unfortunate issue with diagnosing OCPD is the person with the condition thinks everything is normal. Doing things perfectly and taking hours to finish a simple task is normal; obsessing and becoming anxious to the point of annoyance is normal, and hoarding useless items is normal. Obviously, if these things are normal to them they will not seek medical help.
This is the reason many people with OCPD are either never diagnosed, or if they are diagnosed later in life, they live in denial and continue their lives believing nothing is amiss. Living for them is working hard, limited leisure time and spending time making their lives perfect. This is what impacts on their personal relationships, you have to be a very patient person to live with someone who is never happy with what they do, or what you do for that matter.
Depression and anxiety are symptoms which can be controlled by drugs if the person is willing to take them. This does help with the perfectionism traits and helps to alleviate some of the tension which may be occurring in their relationships.
If you feel something is not quite right with your relationship, or you know someone who seems to be overly obsessive, there is help available. OCPD is a controllable condition with the help of GP's, counselors and psychiatrists.
OCPD SYMPTOMS INCLUDE:
- Obsessive about rules and doing things 'the right way'. Their way is the only way, they will not be swayed by someone giving them an alternative method.
- Do tasks in an orderly manner, perfecting it to the point of non-completion of the actual task.
- Inflexible ideals.
- Dislike change.
- Want control all the time.
- Tend to be a loner.
- Difficulty making decisions and won't accept suggestions from others to help with decisions.
- Believe they are the only one who can do certain tasks, will not ask for assistance.
- Obsessive about tidiness and cleanliness.
- Hoarding - to the point of keeping things even after they are no longer useful.
- Robotic tone of voice.
- Difficulty socialising and making friends.
- Negative thoughts all the time, rarely happy with life.
- Workaholic (usually due to spending inordinate time completing tasks).
- Depressed and anxious, especially when their routine is changed.
- Never want to be out of their comfort zone.
If you feel someone you know has some of the above symptoms and they are impacting negatively on life encourage the need for assistance through a GP or a medical therapist. Note that sufferers need to have at least half of these symptoms to be considered suffering OCPD. Autism foundations may be of help with diagnosis and treatment as OCPD symptoms do cross over with Aspergers Syndrome.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2010 Maria Giunta