Julie Miller's Mental Health Blog

Obsessive Compulsive #2

Posted on: June 5, 2010

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).  These two are different.  Often I hear folks on the street saying something like “I’m so OCD” but I watch them for a few moments, and it’s pretty clear they are not OCD, but OCPD.

What’s the difference?  It’s kind of like this:

When I was a kid, my father owned Miller Redi-Mix, a concrete company that mixed, delivered, and poured concrete, that grey stuff that lines the streets, as gutters or sidewalks.  The grey stuff that makes up freeways and bridges.  Now, many people, even educated folks on national TV news, will call that grey stuff “cement.”  Holy cow.  That made my Dad’s neck hairs stand on end.  “CONCRETE!” he’d say emphatically, correcting the otherwise erudite speaker.  “Cement,” he’d say,” is the stuff that makes the sand and gravel stick together to make CONCRETE.”

Oh, and the other thing.  If a nice painting is hanging on the wall, that a PICTURE, not pitcher.  A pitcher is that glass thing from which you pour iced tea or lemonade on the porch during a hot day.

Oh, and one more thing.  It’s NUCLEAR, not nuculer.

So my Dad demonstrates a perfectionism and rigidity (sorry Dad) common for OCPD, not OCD.  OCD is characterized by ritual, counting, cleaning, etc.  OCPD is characterized by a chronic pattern of detail-oriented and rigidly focused perfectionist behaviors.

Since I’ve confessed here my family history of OCPD (probably just traits or fearures, not a full-blown personality disorder, although my coworkers and supervisees from the past may not agree), I can admit to being concerned about symmetry when multiple photos or PICTURES (nod to Dad) are hung on a wall.  I don’t have to get up to straighten the frames any more (thank you thousands of dollars in therapy), but I do notice when they are not straight or not symmetrically arranged.

I correct others (usually in my head, but sometimes aloud) when someone uses the word “dependency” when talking about chemical “dependence.”  A “dependency” is a colony, or a geographical area politically controlled by a distant country (thank you Sandra, my internship supervisor from many years ago).

Also, an ape is not a monkey.  An orangutan is an ape, not a monkey.  A chimpanzee is an ape, not a monkey.  A gorilla is an ape, not a monkey.

See what I mean?

OCPD is about detail, and things being just right, in one form or another.  While it makes my supervisors happy because I’m highly observant and detail oriented, it drives supervisees a little wild.  Fortunately, they have always indulged me.

What about OCD?  What’s your experience with it?


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