Before I got married in August 2016, I worked with a frum psychological counselor for half a year, and after my marriage I renewed his counseling with my wife. It took even him many weekly sessions to diagnoze me once and for all beyond any doubt (but just by chance) as someone with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) defines it as follws:
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.
All the descriptions except for 5 and 7 match my daily thoughts and behaviors. An online article entitled How to Recognize Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder describes this personality disorder in a more friendly manner.
Anyway, I feel I've finally found one single unitary explanation for all the difficulties I've been feeling, especially after I moved from Japan to Israel, which I find extremely OCPD-unfriendly, in interpersonal relationships. But on the other hand, the more I read about OCPD in professional books, the more keenly I become aware that actually, I'm living with a land mine inside myself in that various interpersonal situations trigger my obsessive thoughts, which in turn trigger my compulsive behaviors, which often make my interpersonal relationships with many others, including my wife, very difficult and even problematic.
In the meanwhile I've started to work on my OCPD first and foremost in order to improve my married life with my beloved wife, who, unlike all the other people I interact with regularly, fully understands the significance and implications of OCPD. Under the guidance of my counselor I've started to try the so-called exposure and response prevention as part of the so-called cognitive behavioral therapy.
I've also started thinking about the best ways of putting some of the traits of OCPD such as orderliness and perfectionism more consciously to a positive use both privately and professionally. I've decided to come out of the closet, so to speak, hoping that non-OCPDniks will understand OCPD and us OCPDniks more.
PS: Some useful links
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder by Martin Kantor
- Fatal Flaws by Stuart C. Yudofsky
- Out of the Fog
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Support Group