Monthly Archives: November 2012

OCPD in Popular Media: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

I recently watched “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” a documentary about the world’s greatest sushi chef. Jiro operates a restaurant in Tokyo where customers must book at least a month in advance and pay ¥30,000 (around USD$370) in order to enjoy a 15-minute meal consisting of about twenty pieces of sushi.

Jiro is a man of excellence showing many OCPD traits.

According to Jiro, talent plays a very important role in the success of a chef. When a chef talks about talent, he or she is referring to the sensitivity of taste and smell, something that people are just born with. To give you a better idea of how this “talent” works, if a person with absolutely no “talent” has only two categories (“rotten” or “edible”) and the average person has five categories (“disgusting,” “tastes bad,” “tasteless,” “tastes good,” “delicious”) with which they sort their food, Jiro has hundreds of categories. Like Jiro, people with OCPD have hundreds of categories in many different areas because of their sensitivity.

Sensitivity gives people the power to catch subtle details that most people miss. In order to not miss any detail, Jiro tastes everything in his restaurant before serving his customers.

Like many people with OCPD, Jiro’s high standards come from the combination of his sensitivity and his gift for excellence. Jiro knows exactly what excellence tastes like. While most other sushi chefs buy all of their ingredients in bulk from one seafood supplier, Jiro takes the more inefficient practice of buying all of his ingredients separately from different suppliers who specialize in catching only one type of fish.

Jiro suggests that talent and high standards themselves cannot amount to success. Hard work is what is needed to turn those high standards from ideas into tangible things that others can enjoy. Jiro works extremely hard, even at the age of 85. When he goes on vacation, which he hardly does, he wishes to go right back to work. He has worked so hard his entire life that, until working with him as his apprentices, his children do not remember their father ever being around.

Like many people with OCPD, Jiro has a certain way of doing things to achieve perfection that many others would find tedious. To achieve the perfect amount of tenderness, Jiro spends up to fifty minutes just massaging his octopus. Because of his uncompromisable love for excellence, he requires everyone who works under him to follow his inflexible ways of doing things. His ways are so difficult to adopt that his apprentices must learn under him for a total of ten years before they can call themselves master sushi chefs. Their restaurant has seen workers quit the night of their first day of work because of how demanding the job is.

The documentary also shows how Jiro is a man of many routines.

Finally, the documentary examines Jiro’s survival mentality, an attitude of the mind that people with OCPD are no strangers to. While he was still so young, his father left his family and Jiro had to learn on his own how to take care of himself. Jiro treats his children with the same kind of cold, tough love because he believes that that is what makes a person strong.

I highly recommend this documentary to all those who are passionate about excellence!

I leave you with one thing to think about. Because of Jiro’s high standards, he is more likely to be disappointed with the taste of sushi that is prepared by other average sushi chefs. But does that mean other sushi chefs suck at what they do? No. Now think about an area in your life where you get disappointed frequently because of your high standards. In the same way, when other people fail to meet your high standards, it is not because they suck at what they do. Do not give others such a hard time when they fail to meet your high standards. Just be excellent yourself.

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Composure and Emotional Non-Expression

Highly sensitive people experience very strong emotions. Sometimes these emotions can be so overwhelming that they impair these people’s ability to maintain their composure and function at their best. In attempt to prevent the consequences that come with this loss, many of these people do not express these emotions and hope that others do not as well.

People with OCPD may be closed to the expression of certain emotions because their all-or-nothing thinking hyperbolizes the consequences of losing their composure.

Many people with OCPD have adopted the wrong idea from their past that some of their human emotions are unacceptable. They may have once expressed those emotions freely, but were punished with hurtful consequences. Those consequences, however small, were then magnified by their unmerciful all-or-nothing thinking.

People with OCPD then fall for another one of their tendencies: they make it a rule not to express those emotions. Even though it is a difficult rule to follow, people with OCPD do a good job following it because of their strong work ethic.

But to their frustration, it appears that everyone else seems to be breaking that rule. This can feel so unfair to people with OCPD. They question, “Why am I the only person who makes the effort to keep myself controlled?”

If the answer to this question comes from their all-or-nothing thinking, many of these frustrated people will judge that it is because others are “weak.” This is a very dangerous judgment for people with OCPD to make because they will eventually judge themselves in the same way when they break their own rule. This then leads to perfectionism and guilt.

The emotion that I have so much difficulty handling is anger. My father, like many other traditional Asian men, did not let me express this emotion because his culture taught him that speaking in an angry tone around elders is disrespectful. He would shut me up and I would be left feeling unheard and invalidated. I learned from him that the only way I would be taken seriously is if I suppress this emotion, communicate in a controlled manner, and validate all my points with logical reasoning.

After functioning out of this condition for so long, I have become a very controlled communicator. I carefully manage my choice of words, the tone of my voice, my body language, and the expression on my face as I construct what I want to say. Many times, my service of containing my emotions has saved others from becoming over-stimulated while we discuss sensitive topics. Giving others no reason to get defensive, I have been able to efficiently debate with others and be heard.

But others do not seem to work as hard as I do in controlling this emotion. They use offensive words, raise their voice, position their body as if they about to fight, roll their eyes, flare their nostrils, etc. I then quietly judge them in my mind. “You are so weak. How can you possibly think that your offensive language and tone of voice strengthen your pathetic argument? You are not worth listening to!” But as they keep on expressing this emotion that I never got to express, my anger builds up inside of me until I cannot hold it in any longer. I explode. Extreme guilt then follows as I tell myself how weak and pathetic I am.

Now I am moving towards handling anger in a healthier way through a process of forgiving my father and teaching myself that what I have to say does matter, regardless of the perfection of my communication. Along the way, I am also becoming more compassionate for those who express anger.


Be open to others about your difficulty in handling their expression of certain emotions. Let them know how you feel. Let them know your boundaries. Ask them kindly to be more sensitive to you.

When you catch your OCPD friend breaking one of his or her own emotional non-expression rules, let him or her know that it’s ok. Fight against his or her guilt. Help him or her realize that the consequences of his or her loss of composure are not as bad as his or her all-or-nothing thinking makes them out to be. If your OCPD friend gets upset at you for breaking one of his or her emotional non-expression rules, be strong and do not allow yourself to feel guilt. Let your OCPD friend know that you prefer to give yourself more freedom to express your emotions. Let him or her know that the consequences of your emotional expression are not as bad as he or she thinks.

Think about that time when you adopted the wrong idea that it was unacceptable to express your emotions. What did you tell yourself? Understand that your all-or-nothing judgments were inaccurate. Forgive the person who made you feel that you should have never expressed those emotions. Tell yourself that you deserve to express those emotions just like everybody else. Whenever you feel those emotions come, face your fears and try to express them. If guilt follows, tell yourself that it’s ok.

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