The truth is that in our society, or at least in a good part of it, styles of behavior that favor dedication to work and highly productive results are valued and reinforced. Qualities such as being a perfectionist, meticulous, organized and competent are highly valued in the work environment and the people who represent them tend to rise and occupy positions of responsibility in their jobs.
Well, individuals with an obsessive style tend to be highly represented in these characteristics. They waste their work capacity, they like to do things not only well, but as well as possible. They are not very fond of leisure, since in their thought patterns, leisure and fun mean a loss of productive time, of progress.
Characteristics of obsessive people
People with obsessive personality disorder usually measure the degree of satisfaction with their behavior based on their schemes and values rather than looking at the result they have obtained with this way of acting. They can be the anti-pollution ecologist, the anti-noise neighbor, the driver who respects and enforces traffic regulations… These people rarely let their instincts or their immediate reactions go free. In this sense, most of the answers they give are the product of a deep reflection process. They are not very fond of risks and plan, order, classify and place what is within their reach.
You can spend your whole life looking for the perfect flower, and do you know why? Because all flowers are perfect.
They keep a large number of objects, which, although often useless, respond to the following thought: “who knows if one day they might need them”. They may spend considerably less time on family, interpersonal, or social relationships in general. However, they usually take care that their loved ones have the basic needs covered and that they do not have to worry about this.
When obsessive personality characteristics are taken to the extreme, they will lead to maladaptive behaviors that make many of their behaviors ineffective and inefficient. If, in addition, they significantly disturb the individual’s own functioning in their daily life, then we are already talking about an obsessive personality disorder (or obsessive personality disorder).
Obsessive-compulsive personality style: the perfectionist type
The difference between a perfectionist personality style and obsessive personality disorder lies in the severity of the symptoms that characterize them. People with obsessive personality disorder are so meticulous that they become ineffective on a work and personal level.
When this perfectionism interferes with the subject’s daily life, we can speak of obsessive personality disorder. On the other hand, a perfectionist personality style is even valued by Western societies. Let us think that in these societies priority is given to values such as individuality, competence and job promotion.
More frequent in developed societies
The obsessive personality style seems to be more frequent in developed societies, such as ours, characterized by an organized and disciplined life. Those who try to occupy an important place in society are favored by characteristics such as efficiency, punctuality, perseverance, hard work and meticulousness.
Spending long hours in the office to finish a job or striving to eliminate the slightest mistake in a task pay off in the workplace. Many of these people can become top executives. Thus, in general terms, at the business level, it is understood that the more an employee works, the better for the company.
A man without flaws is a fool or a hypocrite whom we must distrust.
Obsessive personality disorder and self-discipline
The obsessive style of the personality has great self-discipline (a powerful ” superego ” if we look at it from a psychoanalytic perspective). It is governed by the intellect and not by emotions. In addition, he is usually reserved and not very effusive.
They are prone to stress when their behavior approaches the type A behavior pattern, making it difficult for them to relax and enjoy pleasure. Having free time without planned activities can make them more nervous than a full schedule of unfinished business.
Obsessive and Partner Personality Disorder
With regard to life as a couple, these individuals are usually good companions, being faithful, responsible and taking good care of their spouses. Even so, they do it in an unromantic way and show little of their emotions. They are fundamentally practical.
Due to this reserve on the emotional plane, they make a good pair with people of the histrionic type (the most effusive and exaggerated of the personality styles). Obsessives are attracted to histrionics as a couple because they make them feel more active and alive. At the same time, the histrionic may be attracted to the obsessive because it provides the necessary stability.
The obsessive also tends to get along with antisocial, avoidant, dependent, and self-destructive styles. On the contrary, he does not seem to have good relationships with subjects with the same personality type. Nor with narcissistic, paranoid or sadistic styles.
How to relate to an obsessive guy?
When interacting with people diagnosed with obsessive personality disorder, Oldham and Morris (1995) suggest some behaviors to make the relationship more fluid. They recommend approaching the relationship with good humor and tolerance, allowing the obsessive to continue with their habits. Be flexible, allowing them to act the way they do, as long as this way of acting does not end up generating in them a feeling of discomfort, turning against them.
Do not wait for the obsessive to change. Given his reluctance to novelty, it must be someone else who proposes the changes. On the other hand, the few expressions of affection they show can cause discouragement in other people. It must be taken into account that it is only a matter of lack of manifestation, in no case does it mean absence of feelings or less intense feelings than those that the person who does express them may have.
One is always trying to make things perfect in art, because achieving it in life is really difficult.
Power struggles are not effective with people with obsessive personality disorder, as they are very adept at arguing their reasons. It is recommended to listen to them and try to understand them. On the other hand, as a couple, the obsessive will tend to take care of the details of life in common and to position himself as the point of balance for the stability of the relationship. It is convenient to remind them often that they are very important people to the people around them.
As we have seen, obsessive personality disorder is fundamentally characterized by perfectionism, excessive dedication to work, rigidity, and an inability to get rid of useless objects. The relationship with these types of people can become complicated if the points we have talked about are not taken into account.
Feist, J. (2007). Personality theories. Madrid: Mc Graw – Hill.
Schultz, D. (2002). Personality theories. Madrid: Paraninfo.