Four Obsessive Personality Traits

An obsessive personality, that is being excessively rigid and inflexible can cause you problems in every area of your life. Continue reading to find out more about it.
Four Obsessive Personality Traits

Last update: 15 July, 2021

Some people are more spontaneous, extroverted, and love to improvise, while others are more serious, formal, and organized, and then there are those who exhibit obsessive personality traits. The character of the latter is excessively rigid and usually leads to social conflicts and personal discomfort.

The word obsession has many different meanings and there are applications in which it isn’t even accurate. For example, a person who focuses intensely on an idea, activity, or relationship, is often labeled as “obsessed.” However, this is far from what the term implies in the clinical setting.

The obsessive personality

We also know this as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Its main characteristic is a stable and persistent pattern of thoughts, emotions, and actions marked by rigidity, perfectionism, and the need for control.

It’s a personality disorder, so the above traits find expression in every area of a person’s life, both personal and professional.

The traits of an obsessive personality?

Obsessive personality manifests in a number of identifiable traits. However, these attitudes are sometimes present at a lower level that doesn’t meet the diagnostic criteria. However, they still give rise to many of the drawbacks of this disorder.

A person looking for dirt.
Obsessions disrupt habits and change the way a person behaves, which can lead to problems in everyday life.

1. Excessive organization

Being organized is helpful when it comes to fulfilling tasks and duties and frees up time on your busy agenda when done right. However, a person with an obsessive personality takes it to the extreme but is unproductive at the same time.

For example, they may spend a great deal of time filling out agendas, creating schedules, and setting reminders, while leaving the main task aside.

2. Perfectionism

People with this personality disorder strive for perfection in everything they do and allow themselves no margin for error. Thus, it leads them to perform activities under great pressure.

This is why they tend to postpone the most difficult ones. In addition, they tend to check for faults repeatedly, making it impossible for them to meet deadlines on many occasions.

3. Inflexibility

These people need clear and precise rules to which they and everyone else must adhere. They’re technical (at work), social and moral, so they become intransigent with co-workers, relatives, and acquaintances.

Furthermore, they believe others aren’t capable of meeting their high standards and therefore overload themselves with tasks. In addition, they believe that any voluntary or involuntary transgression must be pointed out and punished.

4. Low emotional expression

An obsessive personality is formal, serious, and polite in their interactions, and so their emotional expression decreases. In addition, they may be uncomfortable with the spontaneous emotional expressions of others.

The development of an obsessive personality

Both genetic factors and environmental elements converge in the origin of an obsessive personality. Thus, it’s related to the style of upbringing, childhood experiences, and the culture in which the person grows up in addition to the inherited biological burden.

Having had an authoritarian and controlling upbringing can influence the development of these traits in a person. They do so to avoid punishment, even as adults. Overprotection is also an influence since parents don’t allow the child to try things on their own and make their own mistakes. Thus, the child ends up internalizing the idea that they must strive for perfection.

In the same way, societies with strict and obligatory moral standards (religions, for example) can also contribute to the appearance of such symptoms.

Overcoming an obsessive personality

A person must be aware of their condition. That is, they must recognize that these patterns of thought and behavior are harmful, for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive personality to be effective.

In addition, professional support is important to help them understand the origin of their personality and try to modify it.

Moreover, exposure is one of the most effective techniques. The person begins to face certain situations in which they would act rigidly and prevent such responses. Relaxation techniques and problem-solving training are also effective.

A confused person.
Recurring thoughts transform into repetitive actions, which invades social relationships.

Obsessive personality vs obsessive-compulsive disorder

It’s important to differentiate these. Indeed, both conditions often happen simultaneously but are different conditions.

First of all, the former is a personality disorder while the latter is an anxiety disorder. The main characteristic of OCD is the presence of obsessions (intrusive thoughts) and compulsions (behaviors aimed at eliminating the discomfort of such thoughts).

These entities aren’t part of the compulsive personality. In addition, people experience such thoughts as inappropriate and contrary to the person in OCD while the beliefs are real, coherent, and acceptable in those with a compulsive personality.

Limiting isn’t helpful

Several of the traits of the obsessive personality are praised and rewarded in today’s individualistic and competitive society. However, they can lead to emotional discomfort and problems in relationships with others when taken to the extreme.

Finally, seek professional guidance if you feel that your rigid attitude is limiting your growth as a person.

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