Perfectionism or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: What is the Difference? Part 2 of a Blog Series on Common Mental Health Disorders

Sometimes in my life I come across people who seem to take organization, order, and cleanliness more seriously than others. One statement that I often hear about a person like this is, “They must have OCD. They are too much of a perfectionist.” Yet, there is a significant difference between being a perfectionist and having obsessive compulsive disorder. This needs to be addressed for both the perfectionist and those who have the diagnosis of OCD.

One important factor to recognize about OCD is that it includes compulsive behaviors. This means the person has an irresistible urge to make sure that what they are attempting to achieve gets done. Yet, on top of completing the compulsive task they obsess over it. Even if they meet the satisfactory requirements for the task, they must complete it repeatedly. Unlike that perfectionist person we all know, those who have OCD may never feel their task is complete. This may involve completing the task up to a large number of times. Often, this compulsive task will become a ritual that invokes a long amount of time to accomplish. Other forms of OCD can look similar to hoarding, having thoughts enter the head repeatedly or accomplishing a certain task or ritual many times a day. 

So, the next time you are dealing with a perfectionist individual in your life remember that they are not suffering "a bout of OCD" but are instead very strict about organization and getting their work done. For those of you who feel that you show the symptoms of OCD and want help, contact a mental health professional and let them know you would like to learn how to work through those issues. We at Cy-Hope would be happy to let you know how to navigate through your problems as well. 

Written by: Jasper Gates, M.A., LPC Intern