EPISODE 4 TRANSCRIPT
03 | 27 | 17
After my first week of producing videos, I was hoping that this process would start to become a bit easier, but for a couple of reasons I’m not quite there yet. First, this project is requiring me to spend a lot of time digging up my own personal past and that is something I almost never do. But the thing I’ve found odd is that I thought that I would feel this freeing feeling from admitting to and talking about this personality disorder…and maybe at some point that will happen. But by living deeper in it then I ever have in order to produce truly honest content, I feel more trapped and defined by this disorder than ever, which is what this episode is about.
In the last episode as part of this three part series, I talked in general terms as to what OCPD is. This time we’re going to get into the specifics of what having OCPD means in real terms. This episode was challenging to write because, as I’ve talked about already, a personality disorder is all encompassing. Because it seeps into literally every part of your life, I had trouble deciding where to start.
Even with the people that have some awareness of OCPD or have done some research on the subject, I haven’t yet met someone that is aware of the subtypes and I want to start there. The reason I’m starting there is because the subtypes are very specific and include OCPD characteristics that I’m not familiar with or have not come across. There are 16 personality subtypes as widely recognized by psychologists that were categorized by world renowned psychologist Theodore Millon. Out of these 16 there are 5 that can be associated with OCPD. I myself identify strongly with 2 of the subtypes, but see bits and pieces of me in the other 3. I think this has to do with having OCPD for most of my life and having had it evolve quite a bit as my life tends to change itself drastically on a regular basis. I’m sure anyone watching that suffers from any sort of mental illness knows that your brain doesn’t like to cooperate with other peoples definitions of how it works or should work. What I mean is that I’m sure that you’ll be able to relate to me in that you will be able to pull elements from each of these 5 categories that apply to yourself. So I’m going to go through these quickly and then maybe dig a little deeper into the parts I have experience with.
The 5 subtypes are all compulsive subtypes and they are conscientious, bureaucratic, parsimonious, puritanical & bedevilled. A conscientious compulsive probably outwardly has some of the more beneficial symptoms. They are rule and duty bound, so in the right situations, that might not be the worst thing in the world to be. This type of compulsive would be where the common character trait of being a perfectionist would come from. They are earnest, hard working and meticulous. However, the bad news comes in the form of being completely inflexible and internally being plagued indecision and self doubt. We’re talking about someone that would grab a leadership position, take on all of the responsibility and decision making while at the same time doubt every move they made. This is where a lot of anxiety can derive.
Next up is the bureaucratic compulsive. They would be identified by someone that is dominant, close minded, narcissistic and intrusive. They would feel a sense of comfort from rules. It’s possible that they would share a sense of ambition akin to a conscientious compulsive, but there’s not a real upside to this one. This is the type of compulsive that is a know it all and thinks they are better than you. This subtype is where the difficulty in recognizing ones own mental illness comes from.
For the third subtype we have parsimonious compulsive. It is my belief that this type of compulsive is where you find the crossover symptoms of OCD. What you have here is someone miserly, uncaring, someone unwilling to share and someone with potential hoarding tendencies. You can dig deep into this one and you won’t find an upside. There are schizoid features associated with this subtype and a strong fear of loss and intrusions. Where you find the OCD crossover is the the rituals and routines that can develop out of their intense fears. The thought processes behind the rituals are very different to OCD, but symptom-wise, OCD and OCPD can present themselves outwardly very similarly.
Fourth is puritanical compulsiveness. They are prudish, as the name suggests, as well as self righteous and judgmental. They are very strict with themselves and it’s this type of compulsive that can be the hardest to live with. If they are unable to meet their own high standards, well, you have no chance. Their are also paranoid features that derive from trying to suppress any urges they consider disgusting or offensive. The only good side I see to this one is that they tend to live or try incredibly hard to live, very moral lives.
Finally we have the bedevilled compulsive. These are characterised by negativistic or passive aggressive features. In my very, very personal experience, what you have here is someone that goes through life believing they are a realist, when in reality they are much more likely to be a pessimist. They tend to be very internally conflicted. This leads to the deep depression you find with many sufferers of OCPD. Because of the nature of feeling so uneasy and unsure all the time it’s very hard for bedevilled compulsives to make decisions or move forward in life. Their compulsions and obsessions would most often be in control of their emotions. You will also find rituals and routines associated with this subtype used in a way to self comfort. If you can overcome the depressed tendencies of this type of compulsive, on bright side you might find yourself with someone empathetic and caring but without a clear idea of how to express those feelings.
Now that’s a relatively thorough look at a part of OCPD that you don’t find a lot of information on. I myself identify currently more so with puritanical and bedevilled. However, I can have at times a certain level of inflexibility that comes with being a conscientious compulsive and I also struggle with sharing, which would align me with a parsimonious compulsive. So possibly at certain points in the past I may have felt more closely defined by those two subtypes as opposed to the two that currently fit me better.
Before I move onto the second part of this episode, I’d like to digress for a moment. It’s difficult to force myself to get into the personal, but I really want this series to have more value than just reading an article by someone anonymous. So…I mentioned at the beginning that by spending so much time preparing for this project that I feel more confined than ever before by my personality disorder. But part of having a form of puritanical OCPD means that I have very strong opinions and one of those opinions is that using a mental illness as any sort of excuse or crutch is a sign of weakness. What that means is that I know without a shadow of a doubt that this curse up until this point has been stronger than me and that it is so powerful that most people are never able to conquer it. But at the same time, I don’t want to admit that. I don’t want to admit to needing help and I don’t want to allow it be be the excuse for how far I’ve let myself fall. So inside my head, that’s the dichotomy I live with day in and day out. Because having OCPD is so very incredibly hard to admit to having, I know that for those that are coming to terms with having it, they must be going through the same struggle and I want you to know that I can relate to that on every level.
OK, now back onto the symptoms. The DSM-5, which I’ve mentioned before, has a set of criteria a person needs to meet in order to be diagnosed with obsessive compulsive personality disorder. Let’s do the same thing we just did with the subtypes. I’ll go through them quickly and then go back and give some real world examples and applications.
In order to be diagnosed with OCPD you must meet four or more of the following characteristics. A person must be occupied with details, rules, lists, order, etc to the point where they lose the object of the task. They must demonstrate a level of perfectionism that hampers them in life. You must be dedicated to work or tasks so intensely that they become a detriment to allowing any time for joyful activities. A person must be meticulous, scrupulous, and rigid about etiquettes of morality, ethics, or values. You would need to having hoarding tendencies even with objects that may carry no sentimental value. Not being able to share work or projects with someone else unless they surrender to exactly your way of doing things. Have a very stingy spending style. Displays an inflexibility or stubbornness. Also, possibly internally has feelings of excessive doubt and caution or unwelcome thoughts or impulses.
Hopefully that clears up why I started with the subtypes, because that list of symptoms is sort of all over the place. Even though some of these may be self explanatory, I’ll take them one at a time so we are clear. For the first point, dealing with rules and lists and details, I think this is where you find that annoying trope of “that’s just my OCD”. You see this in real life, but it’s very common in tv and movies. Someone that’s a bit anal will use that as a throw away line to explain away some action that others might see as odd. But in reality, these lists and being detail oriented and being obsessed with rules mean that you never get to see the big picture. Outwardly it can look like a lot of procrastination because someone is so hung up on details that they never finish what they started in the first place. When it comes to rules, they are so hung up on them that they would still be inflexible in a situation where a rule might not be the right thing to follow morally or ethically. I explained OCPD in the simplest of terms when I said we see the world in black and white with no gray in-between. Sadly, this is how that mindset is expressed in the real world. Details matter to someone with OCPD, when they absolutely should not matter. In an unimportant situation, this might only cause a delay or an annoying wait. In a big life moment, this trait can be devastating.
I’m sure we all know what being a perfectionist means. But just as in the last point, this is taken to an extreme. I give you a personal example for this one and a little insight into how my brain works. I’m using this example because it shows how far reaching this perfectionist mentality can go and how it isn’t just in the things we all think about. Let’s say in the past I was in a relationship and we spent some money furnishing our home. I would be obsessed with those items staying in new condition. Now on my own, I would be incredibly mindful of how careful I was with those items and maybe for instance what I would or wouldn’t allow myself to put on them. On my own, if one of those items was accidentally damaged I would get rid of it. Didn’t matter if I couldn’t afford to replace it. If I kept it, I would no longer see that item for what it was. I would only focus on that one minor flaw. Now lift that situation up and put it back down into a relationship with another human being. It doesn’t work. It’s not manageable. It’s crazy person behavior and it will get you a life of being on your own.
The third point about being so hard working and dedicated that you lose sight of the joy in life is pretty self explanatory. You can’t find a balance of what you think your duty in life is and what time you should allow yourself for pleasurable things. When they talk about a rigidity with morality and ethics and values, this is where it gets tricky in friendships and relationships. Because of how the brain is developed with this disorder according to each persons individual life experiences, it can be almost impossible to make sense of a sufferers code of conduct. Their rules can seem nonsensical, contradictory and impossible to live up to. As I go into other subjects in my videos this will come up a lot, but it’s also the hardest part of having OCPD to explain. Each person with OCPD has their own set of rules and as I can barely explain the logic behind mine, I would have an almost impossible time explaining yours or those of a loved one. But by digging deeper into the thought processes, I’m hoping you’ll gain some insight you didn’t have before.
I’m going to save the hoarding subject for another video as I’d like to approach it using questions that come up from you guys. I’ve had some tendencies in the past, but I’d say this is definitely one of the most mild symptoms I have currently. I think this one can be really easy to identify, so I’ve been conscientious as to not allow myself to go too far down that road. Actually, I’d say the symptom of being stingy is the one I least relate to. But I understand how it ties into this disorder so I’ll be able to talk about this as well in a future video.
Not being able to share work with others is also a very dominant symptom with those that suffer with OCPD. I think in relationships where someone was able to conceal their OCPD for a while in the beginning, this would be the first symptom to rear its ugly head. In a work situation, it’s obvious that by not sharing the load, there is a high risk of deadlines not being met. But in a home situation, this is the symptom that presents itself as controlling. I’ll give another personal example. I like things cleaned in a very specific way. Like in the way a crazy person wants things cleaned when an OCD person is represented on tv. Like the typical type of person that pops into your head when you think of OCD. What that means is that in past relationships I would do all the cleaning. Pretty easy to justify that one in your head. I’m the nice boyfriend doing all the cleaning. What’s the problem? How could someone take issue with that? But it’s one thing if you volunteer to do all of the cleaning out of the niceness of your heart. It’s a completely different thing to not allow the other person to do ANY cleaning because you feel you’ll have some sort of panic attack. Those with OCPD have no desire to control those they love. But that doesn’t change the fact that those people in relationships with people with OCPD feel very much controlled. That is a perfectly reasonable and justifiable conclusion to come to and I have a deep empathy for those in relationships with someone that has obsessive compulsive personality disorder. This plays directly into the next characteristic of being inflexible. There’s a right way and a wrong way and you’re wasting your time trying to convince someone with OCPD that they are wrong or that maybe you could meet somewhere in the middle. There’s a lot to be explored with that one symptom and I’m sure anyone watching would agree with me.
Finally we have all the internal conflicts that someone with OCPD goes through. In real life they’d be things like self loathing, self doubt, compulsions and obsessions obviously. Thoughts could also include fear, anxiety, depression, feelings of not being good enough, feelings of wanting to be alone, suicidal thoughts. In my own experience, there’s a lot of confusion as well. It’s not something I see a lot written about, but so many time I do something that seems to contradict who I am and I’m left feeling like a hypocrite and just so confused. The biggest conflict of all though is waiting for those that come to terms and accept that they might have OCPD. At that point you start to feel a sense that you haven’t been the one steering the ship. You feel that your identity is all wrapped up in this personality disorder and you start to second guess every decision you make and thought you have after that point.
So where do you go from there? Is that the rock bottom? In the final video in this three part series, we start looking at solutions. So I’m going to leave you with something to look forward to. I’ll be discussing treatment options and their effectiveness and what the future holds.