What is the difference between Perfectionism and OCD?
Elena Morales, LMHC
Licensed Professional Counselor
I believe silence creates a cycle. With empathic and collaborative therapy, we break the cycle. I help clients feel validated and supported passed anger, shame, and anxiety.
Top Rated Answers
1. Checking things over and over.
2. Arranging things so that they are ""just right""
4. Tapping, touching, or rubbing things.
5. Excessive and repetitive washing and cleaning.
7. Constantly re-doing things to try to make it perfect.
Perfectionism, on the other hand, is normally caused by a person having very high personal standards. Failing to meet those standards can cause the person significant distress. Perfectionists strive for perfection in every area in their life, and failure in an area will cause them to feel like a failure in life.
Here are a few key differences between perfectionism and OCD:
1. While a perfectionist may experience distressing thoughts, they are able to identify the fear as irrational and dismiss is, whereas a person with OCD cannot control the thoughts and instead feels as if they can only relieve the fear by performing one of their obsessions.
2. A perfectionist may perform rituals because they like there to order; however, an individual with OCD will experience significant distress if they do not perform their rituals and they become life hindering.
3. A perfectionist will intentionally perform their rituals. An individual with OCD, on the other hand, is not able to control the behavior and the ritual itself normally has very little to do with the actual fear. For example, the fear of leaving the door unlocked might cause a person to straighten and re-organize everything on their desk.
So, while perfectionism can cause distress to the individual, and it is a risk factor for OCD, there are significant differences between the two.
I would be remiss if I did not make a note about the difference between OCD and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) here.
OCPD is a personality disorder characterized by a need for total orderliness and control over one's environment. This can come in the form of the need to have control over one's interpersonal relationships, a preoccupation with details and rules, dedicating excessive time to work, and inflexible morals. OCPD differs from OCD in the following ways:
1. OCPD is not directed by uncontrollable thoughts like OCD is.
2. A person suffering from OCPD will believe that their actions are purposeful, whereas a person with OCD is typically distressed by these thoughts and actions.
3. A person with OCD will seek professional help because they find the thoughts distressing, while a person with OCPD will not because they do not see their actions as irrational.
4. OCPD is associated with inflexibility and rigidity so their behaviors do not frequently change over time, however, someone with OCD has their behaviors triggered by anxiety, so their rituals and compulsive behavior will fluctuate as their anxiety increases and decreases.