Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Type

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Conscientious individuals are people of strong moral principle and absolute certainty. They are most concerned with getting jobs done and getting them done right. They are loyal, hardworking, and achievement oriented. The primary Conscientious traits are hard work, prudence, and conventionality. The Conscientious person loves to work, thrives on challenge, and is bound for success (Oldham and Morris, pg. 62). Highly valued characteristics of this type include attention to detail, self-discipline, emotional control, perseverence, reliability, and politeness (Beck, Freeman, and Davis, pg. 320)..


Definition, Synonyms, Analogous

Definition: Governed by or accomplished according to conscience, scrupulous; thorough and painstaking.

"Conscience: 1. The faculty of recognizing the distinction between right and wrong in regard to one's own conduct. 2. Conformity to one's own sense of right conduct" (AHD)

Synonyms: careful, honest, honorable, just, meticulous, punctilious, punctual, scrupulous, upright (MW, pp. 127, 179).

Analogous: accurate, cautious, circumspect, deliberate, ethical, exact, fastidious, finicky, foresighted, moral, nice, particular, precise, provident, prudent, punctilious, righteous, rigid, strict, studied, virtuous, wary (ibid).

Character Strengths and Virtues

Attributes of the idealized self

  1. Industry, diligence.
  2. Scrupulousness, conscientiousness, dutifulness, responsibility, idealism, high-mindedness.
  3. Deliberateness, judiciousness, rationality, logicality, sensibility.
  4. Having high standards, perfectionsim radical, persistent, thorough, thoroughgoing.
  5. Perseverance, tenacity, steadiness, firmness.
  6. Orderliness, tidiness, cleanliness, meticulousness.
  7. Prudence, self-control, self-restraint, carefulness, cautiousness, discipline.
  8. Frugality, thriftiness, saving, conserving.

Traits and Behaviors

Strategies to actualize the idealized image

  1. Industriousness and productivity
  2. conscientiousness
  3. correctness
  4. perfectionism
  5. perseverance
  6. orderliness and meticulousness
  7. prudence
  8. accumulativeness

Likes and Dislikes


Excessive attachments to limited goods

Control, perfection, shoulds, achievement, respect from others, orderliness, responsibility, systems, order, rules, perfectionistic standards, high standards, doing things right, knowing what's best, doing things one's own way, details, doing better and trying harder, pushing oneself and others, criticalness, evaluating others' performances, directing, disapproving, punishing.


Excessive aversions to limited evils

Being casual, being incompetent, being irresponsible, being overwhelmed, being self-indulgent, being unable to function, disorganization, disorientation, disrespect, failure to achieve, flaws or defects in performance, helplessness, imperfection, imperfections, lack of control, mistakes, substandard performance, weaknesses.


Dogmas of the private religion

(Beck, Freeman & associates, 1990, pg. 361, modified)

  • I am responsible for myself and others.
  • If I don't do it, it won't get done.
  • Others lack self-discipline.
  • I must always try to do a perfect job.
  • I need order, systems, and rules.
  • Without systems, things fall apart.
  • Any flaw in performance may lead to catastrophe.
  • I need to stick to the highest standards at all times.
  • I need to control my emotions.
  • Things usually go better if other people do them my way.
  • I will probably fail if I don't perform at the highest level.
  • I can't tolerate mistakes.
  • Details are very important.
  • My way is usually the best way.

Ego Defense Mechanisms

Self-glorification requires self-deception.

"Internal impulses are controlled through the use of identification and sublimation." 1



  1. Key domain (achivement orientation).
  2. Competence, organization, meticulousness, perfectionism, thoroughness, determination, loyalty, busy, doing.
  3. Focus, concentration, meticulousness, effortfulness.
  4. "...needs the challenge of working to perfection and thrives on sheer drive toward accomplishment" (Oldham and Morris, pg. 64)
  5. Perseverence, details, patience, completed to personal standards, inflexible: can't eliminate

steps or skip details.

Management Style

  1. Hardworking, loyal, respectful of authority, accountable
  2. Not Conscientious skills
    1. Quick decisions
    2. setting priorities
    3. delegating responsibility
  3. Set high standards for self (perfectionism, "shoulds")
    1. Thoroughness:
      1. checking details
      2. slow to decide
  4. Expect (interpesonal control)
    1. thoroughness
    2. devotion
    3. accomplishment
  5. May need
    1. greater flexibility in standards
    2. ability to set priorities
    3. respect for differing styles


  1. Orientation to facts, categories, technical details
  2. Science, medicine, research, mathematics, business, accounting, law, engineering, computers, data processing, skilled crafts
  3. Technical, organizing side of any endeavor


  1. Identifies with occupation. "Self is work" (Oldham and Morris, pg. 66)
  2. Pressure for moral perfection
  3. High standard of responsibility
    1. Must produce
      1. to the best of their abilities
      2. in socially and culturally approved ways
      3. all the time
    2. Must never underproduce
    3. Must never have it easy
  4. Self-acceptance comes hard



  • Not sentimental or gushy
  • Act on reason
  • React cooly
  • Don't express feelings easily - stress
  • Dry, formal, intellectual
  • May express anger with subordinates
  • May, in conflict with an authority, reason way back into good graces



  1. Rational/intellectual orientation
  2. Search for perfect action
  3. Procrastination


  1. Type A
  2. Unstructured free time stressful


  1. Store things
  2. Saves and collects
  3. Might need it in the future


  1. Self-Discipline
    • Essential element of success
    • Based on authority
      • Inner
      • Outer
  2. Non-emotional (mental control)
    • Reason
    • Analytical thinking style
  3. Self-controlled

Real World

Rational Focus

  • World devoid of nuance (Oldham) - narrow interest in technical indicators (Shapiro)
  • Fail to perceive world's subtle emotional greys (Oldham) - restriction of subjective and affective experience (Shapiro)
  • Perceive everything in clearly black and white (Oldham) - dichotomous thinking (Beck)
    • Can be source of fanaticism
    • They and followers are right, everyone else is wrong
    • World consists of two extremes


  1. Great mates and good friends (interpersonal control)
  2. Intimacy hard
  3. Expressing feelings anxiety provoking
  4. Other relationship difficulties
    • hard letting others do things their own way
    • need to be "right" and to "win"
    • compromising is difficult
  5. Emotionally steady


Good Parents (interpersonal control)

  1. Teach strong moral values
  2. Instill appreciation
    • hard work
    • ambition
  3. Take good care of families
  4. Demand competence of members

Good/Bad Matches





Areas that may need improvement

Other Areas of interest

Organization, organizing, getting things done, planning, career, productivity, work, jobs, howto, event planning, personal planning, calendars, personal organization, personal productivity, career planning, employment, to do lists, how to get organized.


Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Noteworthy Examples

Bill Bradley, Jerry Brown, Anita Bryant, William F. Buckley, Karen Carpenter, Richard Carpenter, Noam Chomsky, Mario Cuomo, Jane Fonda, Geraldine Ferraro, Erich Fromm, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Al Gore, Charles Grodin, George Harrison, Adolf Hitler, Thomas Jefferson, Pope John Paul II, Bobby Knight, C. S. Lewis, Ignatius Loyola, Cotton Mather, John McLaughlin, Thomas More, Ralph Nader, Martha C. Nussbaum, Sandra Day O'Connor, Ayn Rand, Carl Rogers, Theodore Isaac Rubin, Carl Sagan, George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, Gloria Steinem, Martha Stewart, Margaret Thatcher, George F. Will, Woodrow Wilson.


  1. Ekleberry, Sharon C. (2000). Dual Diagnosis and the Obsessive-Compulsive Personaltiy Disorder. www.schrodingers-cat.org. Retreived 2008-03-13.


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1981, c.1969). William Morris, Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Aaron T. Beck, Arthur Freeman, Denise D. Davis, (2004). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. 2nd. edition. New York: Guilford.

Merriam-Webster (1984). Webster's New Dictionary of Synonyms: A Dictionary of Discriminated Synonyms with Antonyms and Analogous and Contrasted Words. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.

John M. Oldham and Lois B. Morris (1995). The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love and Act the Way You Do. New York: Bantam.

David Shapiro (1965). Neurotic Styles. New York: Basic Books.

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