Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder and the Fear of Being a Fool 

Team IIBP Anveshan, Business Psychology, Corporate Social Responsibility, General Psychology, Issue 34, Organizational Culture, Social justice, Volume 4

Having an eye for detail puts the task in focus, but when the eye refuses to blink, the entire picture is blurred. This is a glimpse into how individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) struggle to finish tasks at hand. OCPD falls under Cluster C of personality disorders and includes symptoms that often tend to interfere with normal functioning, especially in occupational and social areas. OCPD can be especially disabling in the workplace setting. 

Symptoms include preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control at the expense of flexibility and efficiency. There is a preoccupation with details, lists, order, organization, and schedules. This level of perfectionism interferes with the actual achievement of the goal or task. There is excessive devotion to work, which is given preference over leisure and friendships. OCPD includes reluctance in the delegation of tasks unless it is done in the way they prescribe, and often shows rigidity and stubbornness. Such preoccupation with perfectionism can have several implications in the workplace setting. Flexibility is crucial in an organization. It is appreciated when employees can quickly adapt to unexpected situations and see through a project. However, an individual with OCPD may find it extremely difficult to handle unexpected changes. This is because they are comfortable when they have control in every aspect as manifested in excessive scheduling. Individuals with OCPD tend to be high achievers and have leadership qualities in the workplace context. They become distressed when schedules are not executed exactly as planned. The driving force behind this rigid work approach is the fear of being perceived by others as imperfect, incompetent, or unsuccessful. This could stem from the relationship between absolute success and self-worth. Those affected also attempt to avoid being wrong at all costs, owing to their need to be perfect. Mistakes create learning opportunities. When employees can accept constructive criticism, there is space to grow

in a corporate environment. Making genuine blunders and learning from them is one of the best ways to receive helpful feedback. 

The implications of OCPD in the workplace can compromise trust among employees and the flexibility to adapt. There is also an extremely thin margin, if any, for errors. Unrealistically high standards for the performance of self and other employees can create resentment and unproductive indulgence in trivial details. Burnout is also a prominent implication resulting from OCPD in the workplace. Impossibly high standards and the inability to control other employees’ style of work can lead individuals with OCPD to take on all the work themselves. This is why they fail to delegate tasks and diffuse responsibility. Hyper independence can be exhausting which can further compromise the quality of performance and productivity. OCPD provides little to no scope for employees to embrace failure. Mistakes present the best opportunity to learn. Following the wrong path to reach a solution is crucial to understand the right thought process. 

Failure is essential for the development of skills that would not otherwise be learned in the face of absolute success. These include more scope for the growth of an employee and enhancement of problem-solving skills. Faults also help employers identify potential areas of improvement and training. Being a fool provides space for more learning. However, individuals with OCPD struggle with this. They fear being incorrect. This blocks off opportunities to 

gain insightful appraisals along with the internalized pressure to be perfect, which is not humanly possible. Possible solutions can be to raise more awareness about the symptoms and thus, lead to better identification of the disorder which is the first step towards addressing it. Awareness serves to be a more productive approach rather than being quick to assume why one may be inflexible or unable to work with others. In general, OCPD has a higher prevalence rate among men. While women also struggle with OCPD, it may be culturally unconventional for men to seek help. This is why there must be more emphasis on the significance of men’s mental health by encouraging men to be vulnerable and attend to root issues that cause impairment in their occupational aspect of life. Access to mental health services in the immediate corporate environment is also a crucial step in handling OCPD. Another approach is to encourage more assessments when employees display repetitive unproductive behavior, as a way to investigate the possible causes and how to further address these issues. The occupational area of an individual’s life plays a major role in job satisfaction or dissatisfaction that often affects other areas such as interpersonal aspects. 

When one’s functioning in the workplace is disturbed, it can interfere with the healthy qualities required to execute professional responsibilities. Being okay with making mistakes and learning from them is a highly desired quality. This flexibility can be hampered by cognitive rigidity. Adapting to the consequences of being wrong and quickly coming up with solutions is one of many aspects of intelligence. A fool who makes an error and learns from it is more intelligent than a ‘wise’ professional who never fails. But if an employee consistently struggles with perfection, this may be a symptom of OCPD. 

References : 

Legg, Timothy (2018, September 29) Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder 

Psych2Go (2021, January 28) Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) … What is it? [Video]. Youtube. 

Youseemnormal (2022, April 4) Top struggles of people with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) in the workplace [Video]. Youtube. 

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