Always Late

This morning I was late for work. And yesterday,,,and the day before.

Today, as always I had a reason. I couldn't find a pair of shoes that i just had to wear because they were the only ones that looked good with my outfit. Nothing else mattered. Nothing except... making sure the dogs cage was clean, the clothes were in the hamper, my camera was charging... and oh yes, that my hair was perfectly dry.

The list could go on. If I really stuck to it, and tried to do it all every morning, I would never leave the house. There is always more dust to wipe and a better outfit to try on. I have to stop and evaluate... what is more important? Shoes, or the job I wear them to?


This is from a forum post I found, excepted from a book: TOO PERFECT -- When Being in Control Gets Out of Control, Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeannette De Wyze; Clarkson Potter, 1992, 208 pp.

The Myth of Control

One characteristic is a tendency to think in extremes. All or nothing. To yield to another person once may feel like humiliating total capitulation. To tell one lie, break one appointment, shed one tear… is a frightening precedent. (16)

There may be a need to control others, to rigidly insist on one’s own way. (21) They may control others by striving to make people think well of them, always, to leave no room for criticism. (22)

“Subtly manipulative control games are another way in which obsessives strive to assert their power over others. Such power plays whisper: ‘I’ve got the upper hand here. I decide whether or not we will interact. And if we do, I decide the beginning, ending, and content of those interactions.’” (25)

Self-control, “fashioned in childhood as protection, it has become life-constricting…a source of pride that they’re terrified of jeopardizing.” “That fear is one of the reasons why change is particularly difficult for obsessives….” (36)

Link to post

Date Night

I am in a relationship, and it often falls on me to plan our "date nights" where we see a movie, performance or a art event. We both have high standards, and even though I see "perfectionism" as part of the OCPD, I still feel anxiety about planning our "fun" dates.

What if the movie is bad? What if our seats are too close? What if the show is sold out, the art is lame, the performance is a dud?

This does happen of course. Some shows are just...well bad. My struggle is that I feel that it is my personal failure for choosing a terrible date, and I get angry. Not yelling or bubbling over into hateful speech. It is a simmering self-loathing, that is fed by the heat of my internal dialog.


This, needless to say, puts a damper on date night. My partner gleefully mocks the show, and continues on with our night. I end up living in regret and resentment at my "bad" choice.

I have been trying to find the lesson in even the most dismal night out, and to make sure at the end of the night, no matter what happened, that I can crack a smile about it and give my own internal critics the night off.


Perfect Meal -Food and OCPD

I can't say I love to cook. Or even that I have any skill whatsoever in the kitchen. But I do like to make my own food, or at least pick it out. It comes down, once again, to perfection and control.

I'm the girl who has the special order at a restaurant, driving the chef nuts with the "light salt, sauce on side, substitute penne for spaghetti" kind of ordering. I've tried to stop this, if for no other reason that the eye rolls of annoyance from my dining companions

At home, I like to "put together" my meals ( I won't even call it cooking!) But I still get hung up. A little more dressing, only this brand cheese, this zucchini is too bruised to eat... it goes on and on. I find myself getting up from the table, adding or subtracting this or that, searching for that perfect bite. But it never comes.

No matter how great I get at creating my meal, it will still only be... just a meal. And in the end, all the fidgeting and worrying about the taste or substance of what I'm eating only takes away from the actually experience of eating. Searching for the perfect meal only leaves me not experiencing it all all. A daze of worry makes food turn to ashes.

Washing off my plate I realized I was only filling up on anxiety, and am left the empty sensation of failing to meet my own standard of perfection.

What would it mean to taste each bite, not looking for what is wrong with it or how to fix it, but exploring and accepting it for just...what...it...is?


Random Rules

Sometimes I find myself making random rules. For example, walking down the street, I feel hungry. I know I have a few blocks to my destination, I know I have a Luna bar in my bag to eat. Do I simply pull it out for a bite? No, of course not. I've got rules to follow.

Wait, I think, three blocks. Less crowded, better neighborhood, I'll enjoy it more then.

Right as I hit the curb of the third block, I get my bite.
Why the rules? Why not just do what I want? Do I really need to prove how in control I am over my behavior all the time?

Now that I realize these rules are not just harmless mind games, but work to reinforce a negative mental system, I'll try to eat my Luna bar a bit more spontaneously.


My Own Coffee

I know caffeine and anxiety disorders aren't supposed to mix. But I mix them twice daily at my local deli, and I don't plan to stop. I live in a city, and coffee is on every street corner, all the time. But not all all coffee providers are equal, and my obsession with perfection leads me to make some odd choices.
First, I always try to make my own. Deli's around me often have a vat of coffee or iced coffee sitting in wait for customers to pour and add their own milk. This is amazing for a control freak. I will walk a extra block and drink watery coffee just so I can add exact amounts of milk and sugar.
I don't really like Starbucks or other "high end" chains. Maybe other coffee obsessives have their own ritual. (feel free to add comments) but it never ceases to astound me that when I look at little patterns I set up in my life, I see how perfectionism and control affect my behavior.

And yes, I have thrown out imperfect coffee. The $2.50 wasn't worth the anxiety.


With OSPD, sometimes the smallest imperfections can take over your thoughts. At least until you fix them.

All my life, I've never painted my fingernails. Well, that's not true. I've tried to do it myself, and even gotten a manicure at the behest of friends. But it doesn't last. Within the first hour of the painting, sometimes less, I start to see flaws. A bump, a chip, a slight discoloration. It doesn't matter. It's not perfect.

So I try to fix it. This only makes it worse, a splotchy mess ensues. Finally, when I can't even look at my flawed manicure without seeing a big "FAIL" sign, I give up. I remove it all, and go back to bare nails.

This week, I'm trying to live with the chipped polish.


Eating Disorders and OCPD

People with anorexia nervosa (restricting type) will more often have OCPD than other personality disorders. A person with anorexia values rules, which are necessary to maintain harsh food restriction. This person has no problem with suffering for the sake of perfectionism. It is common to see a person with anorexia have no need for care from others because she believes she does everything well. She therefore restricts her "intake" of people just as she restricts intake of food. Meanwhile, she will be eager to help others deal with their issues, because she can easily see "defects" in others' behaviors.

Eating disorders are often linked to personality disorders. With OCPD, the rules and focus on perfection can lead to restriction of certain foods, over exercise, or negative body image. Feeling like a failure at every little flaw on the body, or every "bad" food choice is exaggerated and can lead to obsession. Anorexic behavior is a manifestation on the controlling mindset that is apparent in every aspect of ODPD life.

A interesting writing by Dr. Albert Rothenberg, who made some connections between OCPD and anorexia looks at the modern push toward female thinness as a place to focus obsessive thoughts and behaviors. He believes that social and educational factors, along with a predisposition to obsessive compulsive illness influence the development of anorexia, and social and educational factors also contribute the development of OCD. He further states that recently, obsessive compulsive neurosis has emerged among adolescent girls in a form involving food and disorders of eating. In Western culture, anorexia nervosa and bulimia have become a predominant form of obsessive compulsive illness. According to Rothenberg, anorexia is a modern manifestation of OCD, because thinness in women has become a major and pervasive criterion for attractiveness and beauty.

It's important to note that not all OCPD sufferers have eating issues, and vice versa. I just know that seeing the links between food rules and body perfection, and how I try to control the rest of my life had been very illuminating.


This is a personal look at OCPD that actually manages to be cute and even a bit funny while informing. Enjoy!


So what is Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder?

No, it's not the same as OCD, like you see on "Monk" or other dramatic depictions of hand washing and light switch hitting rituals. The "Personality" part is what makes it a different disorder, and while related, the behaviors are more internalized and integrated with the sufferers inner world.

OCPD is for many characterized by rigidity of thought and behavior. This can manifest in a focus on perfection of self and others, being "right", keeping to a plan or schedule, and lack of empathy for those who are "wrong", including the sufferer themselves. But at the same time OCPD leaves the sufferer disorganized and frantic! Anxiety and self conciousness about being "Wrong" or "out of control" can be common.

Here is a list of the traits of OCPD from The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV-TR,

A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

  • Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
  • Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
  • Is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
  • Is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
  • Is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
  • Is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
  • Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
  • Shows rigidity and stubbornness

Or Check out "The RIGHT Stuff: Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder: A Defect of Philosophy, not Anxiety"
by Steven Phillipson, Ph.D.
Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy

Here is a Google Book chapter about OCPD in "Personality Disorders" By Mario Maj

Just like any mental health issue, seek out a professional. I am not a professional. I'm just a young woman dealing with this, and trying to share some info!

Welcome to my OCPD Blog - Life as a Perfectionist

Hello and welcome. This blog is about my journey and struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. This blog will focus on stories of life with OCPD, which is kinda like OCD but more about a personality trait. For more on what that is, see this post.

I'm not a doctor, just a young woman with a blog trying to share my story with OCPD. The hope is that it will help others who live with anxiety, or anyone who has someone in their life who dealing with a personality disorder. I also struggle with eating issues, and am trying to recovery from anorexia. They go hand in hand, I think my main issue is "perfection" in general, and that goes way beyond food. But a lot of young women who get obsessive find a outlet on their bodies. More on that here.

I'm just starting out on this exploration of my self, my symptoms and my treatment. I have a long way to go.

OCPD is about obsession and compulsion. But I mostly feel it as anxiety. This blog will ask the questions: Is OCPD detrimental to relationships? Can natural treatments for OCPD work? Can the power of the mind stop obesessive and OCPD thoughts. Can obsession be a good thing?