Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a condition characterized by the anxiety of one’s own emotions and addiction to negativity. (The Gift of OCPD definition)
Some people (the highly sensitive and gifted) are born with a highly sensitive nervous system – there is nothing wrong or abnormal about this. They most likely inherited their high sensitivity from their parents (one or both may be highly sensitive). Those with a highly sensitive nervous system are predisposed to feeling their emotions intensely (emotional overexcitability). This intensity makes it more challenging to accept, endure, and recover from uncomfortable life experiences, hurt, and disappointments. While undergoing emotional pain, it is not so uncommon for people to come to conclusions that draw out a response, both emotional and behavioural, that adds to the human experience of melancholy. For the sake of simplicity, I refer to these conclusions as “negative” thoughts. Although it may be normal, even human, to have a negative thought in difficult times, highly sensitive people who feel their emotions intensely are often driven by their emotions to replay their thoughts in their head in frequencies that cause problems in the long run. This replaying of thoughts is what the clinical world of psychology calls “obsessions.” After some time has passed, during which repeated thoughts and responses have strengthened neural connections within the brain, the highly sensitive person then becomes addicted to his or her many ways of thinking and coping.
“Giftedness is a dual diagnosis with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder since intellectualization may be assumed to underlie many of the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for this disorder.” (Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children)
HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM OCD?
The main difference between OCD and OCPD is that OCD is characterized by the anxiety of one’s own imagination while OCPD is characterized by the anxiety of one’s own emotions. Read my theory in more detail on “OCD vs OCPD: Restoring Our Imagination and Heart.”
(The Gift Of OCPD Criteria – not all symptoms have to be present)
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “I need to figure out how to be ok or else I will not be ok.”
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “I am not good enough as a person.” “I need to create my value.” “My value comes from what I do.” “I am on my own in the pursuit of feeling good about who I am as a person.” “My future will not be ok unless I work as hard as I can now.” “Things will not be ok unless I use my time perfectly.”
- Perfectionism, Anger, Guilt
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “My high standards must be met or else things will not be ok.” “I will be rejected by others if I am not perfect.”
- Regret, Restlessness, Indecisiveness
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “I am worse off because of the things that I have and have not chosen to do.” “Unless I make up for my lost time and choose perfectly, I will always remain in regret.”
- Resentment, Unforgiveness
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “I am worse off because of the way he/she/they treated me.” “He/she/they do not care.” “The world would be a better place without him/her/them.” “I expect him/her/them to fail and disappoint me.”
- Isolation, Inability to Delegate
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “It is better to be safe by myself than to get hurt and rejected by others.” “Doing things on my own is the only way to get things done right.”
- Miserliness, Hoarding
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “I will not have enough for myself in the future unless I save now.” “Others will just take advantage of my generosity.”
- Purposelessness, Idleness (for the more severe case of OCPD)
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “There is no purpose/point in life.” “We are merely like the animals on the earth with no greater purpose than to go along with this perpetual pointless cycle we call life.” “There is nothing more.”
- Hopelessness (for the more severe case of OCPD)
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “There is nothing that I can do.” “I am powerless.” “I cannot bring any sort of positive change to my condition/the world.”
- Antinatalism (for the more severe case of OCPD)
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “Life sucks.” “Life is not worth living.” “I rather have not been born into this world.” “It would be cruel to bring children into this unfair wretched world.” “I rather not have children so that I do not pass down my illness to them.”
- Misotheism (for the more severe case of OCPD)
- UNDERLYING NEGATIVE BELIEF: “There is no such thing as good.” “There is no God.” “If there is a God, God does not care.”
Short answer… no, there is no cure. There is more evidence in the study of addictions to support the idea that previously built neural pathways remain in the brain for life. Dormant neural pathways can be reawakened at any point in time, causing relapse.
While being cured of OCPD may not be an option, recovery from OCPD is very possible. Successful long-term recovery from OCPD is a two-part challenge:
- Elimination of the anxiety of emotions by facing them (not denying or escaping them) and personally experiencing that everything will be ok in the end.
- THE CHALLENGE: Many people with OCPD have built a dependence on that which prevents them from facing their anxieties (all of their many mechanisms of control).
- Life-long commitment to sobriety from negative thinking.
- THE CHALLENGE: Old habits are extremely difficult to break and relapse can happen so easily.
GETTING PROFESSIONAL HELP
As highly intelligent people with a gift for figuring things out, people with OCPD are very well equipped for self-therapy. It may be difficult, however, for them to recognize all their mechanisms of control on their own because they have lived the majority of their lives thinking that those things were normal. For that reason, it can be a very good idea for people with OCPD to get additional help in checking their “blind spots” with a professional. The ideal professional is one who helps his or her OCPD patient work on the above two-part challenge. The ideal professional is able to be a strong voice of positivity in the OCPDer’s life. Avoid professionals who are quite negative themselves, who offer advice based on their own negativity.
As explained above, OCPD is not a result of any chemical imbalance or insufficiency. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the hyper-functioning OCPD nervous system runs much more powerfully than that of the average person. There is nothing chemically that needs to be balanced or supplemented. Despite the questionable beginnings of the mass implementation of medication as treatment for mental health issues, there are still many users who promote the efficacy of medication in controlling the symptoms of OCPD. Symptom control, though, is not something that I am interested in promoting. I am much more interested in helping people with OCPD experience full recovery, recovery that requires no more symptom control because all symptoms have been eliminated as a result of addressing their root issues. Symptom control can also lead to dependence in the long run. People with OCPD need to learn how to think positively (or at least not so negatively) when they feel “bad.” Removing or dulling the initial “bad” feeling through the use of medication is only a temporary quick fix.
THE GIFT UNWRAPPED: Profile of the Recovered OCPDer
You are a champion of excellence. Your standards are so high because you know what excellence looks like. When you see excellence, your heart leaps with excitement!
The way that you live your life is a testament of your passion for excellence. You cannot bear the thought of compromising your high standards for life by settling for “comfortable” or “good enough” as most other people do. That kills you inside. You would rather die trying to have the most enriching, fulfilling life.
The way that you work is a testament of your passion for excellence as well. You work so diligently because excellence takes a lot time and effort. As a result of your consistent hard work, you have ingrained in yourself a superhuman work ethic. When you find that one thing you love to do more than anything else in the world, nothing can stop you. What others might consider a chore, you consider a joy. While others count the hours that they work, you lose track of time. When excellence is delivered by the work of your hands, it inspires the world. It opens people’s eyes and makes them say, “Wow! So this is what excellence looks like!” Oftentimes, financial success follows excellence. But money can never supersede your uncompromisable love for excellence.
The way that you love your romantic partner is another testament of your passion for excellence. When you find that one person you love more than anyone else, you really give your life to them. While others let the passion in their romantic relationships fade too easily, you work hard at making yours exhilarating. You fight everyday for your partner’s heart. You are like the knight in shining armor whose love for his princess is so powerful that you would slay dragons everyday for her.
You pursue excellence in your other close relationships as well. Rather than spreading your attention thin over multiple surface-level relationships, you zero in all your energy to a few friends to experience deep, meaningful friendships.
You have a gifted mind that aids you in your pursuit of excellence. You are highly intelligent, especially in logical reasoning and problem solving. You are a talented strategist. Your mind has a knack for understanding things that have an orderly structure to them. If a complex machine from outer space was designed in a logical manner and given to the people of Earth to try to figure out its use, you would be the first one to master it.
But the most amazing thing about you is your big heart! You experience heights of joy and depths of sorrow that remain a mystery to most people. Your greater emotional range gives you the ability to empathize with others so well that your relationships reach such a deep level of intimacy. Your heart not only senses the pain in others, but it also knows how to deliver the right comfort and healing. When this awareness is combined with your abundant care and generosity, people’s lives change. Your heart is so big that it has the capacity to care for humankind on a larger scale. While most others might easily dismiss the needs of the world in order to focus on their own needs, you lay your life down for the benefit of the world. Your heart breaks when you see injustice happen as a result of the absence or lack of moral order. You passionately fight for what is right and make the world a better place.
YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL MASTERPIECE!
The above description is the true identity of people with OCPD. This identity, however, gets lost and distorted by trauma, fear, and lies. Fortunately, these things can all be worked out and the true identity of people with OCPD can be restored.
If you are a person with OCPD, read the above character description to yourself frequently and believe in it. If you care for someone with OCPD, help him or her find his or her identity by affirming the above truths in his or her life.