The main difference between obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is that OCD is egodystonic, while OCPD is egosyntonic. Egodystonic is a psychological term that describes beliefs, feelings, or behaviors that are in conflict or dissonant with your self-image…hence, the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are highly distressing. On the other hand, egosyntonic is a psychological term that describes thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that are acceptable or in harmony to you self-image…hence, the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors do not cause you distress, and may even bring comfort to you. When you have OCD, the obsessions are distressful and anxiety provoking, making you very uncomfortable. Then you are compelled to act, so the compulsions start, and this is not pleasant either, as you spend a lot of time and energy on the compulsions, which seem forced upon you. In OCD, you know that the obsessions and compulsions are abnormal.
When you have OCPD, you have a preoccupation with perfectionism, orderliness, mental control, and interpersonal control, at the expense of efficiency, flexibility, and openness. When you think about something or act on your ideas, you tend to overdo it. So when you think about cleaning something, you may spend hours cleaning to the point where the floors are spotless and you can literally eat off the floor. You clean in this fashion as you want everything perfect and neatly ordered. Now this may look like a germ-contamination fear (obsession) and a cleaning ritual (compulsion) that goes along with OCD. The difference is that in OCD, you know the obsessions and compulsions are crazy and abnormal, and you are compelled to reduce the anxiety associated with your obsessions by engaging in compulsions…it is not pleasant. Whereas someone with OCPD may actually enjoy and cherish their work of cleaning, satisfying their need for control of their environment…there is no distress involved. People with OCPD also tend to be workaholics, in that they will excel at jobs that require precision, attention to detail, and perfectionism. Many doctors have OCPD, especially those that only have their work and never take a vacation from their calling. If you look at their personal lives, they may not have many friends, and they do not do anything fun for themselves.
So the main differences between OCD and OCPD:
- OCD is egodystonic, while OCPD is egosyntonic
- OCD is associated with obsessions and compulsions that the person knows are abnormal.
- In OCPD, the perfectionism and orderliness may look like obsessions and compulsions, but the person does not see anything wrong with their thoughts or actions, and may even find pleasure in it.