8 thoughts on “What’s The Difference Between OCD And Perfectionism?

  • June 26, 2016 at 4:06 am

    I find that my clients often ask if their behaviors qualify them for having OCD. I shared this on my Facebook page. Thanks Sharon!

  • June 21, 2018 at 3:34 am

    It can wear a person down, always looking for a better way, always redoing until everything seems perfect, always remember you can make improvements even when you do your very best. Makes for a long day.

    I enjoy the way you write, Sharon.

    • June 21, 2018 at 9:07 am

      Yes, it’s physically and emotionally exhausting for sure!

      Thanks for reading, Etta.

  • January 23, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Differentiating perfectionism from, or as a part of, OCD or OCDP has been challenging for me. For instance, consider your example of the person who re-writes their emails or text messages repeatedly for what most would consider trivialities before sending them. If the underlying concern is a fear of failure that precedes the repetitive checking and revising, I interpret that similar to worrying that something bad will happen. The obsession is an unrealistic fear of failure (i.e., something bad will happen) which results in compulsive re-writing until the individual has that “just right” feeling whereby the anxiety decreases. The treatment for this would be ERP (e.g., intentionally making mistakes or sitting with the uncertainty that there may be spelling, grammar, or word choice errors in the email/text by not reviewing the email/text before sending it). Otherwise, the treatment might be to specifically focus on the individual’s cognitive distortions that underpin this fear of failure. However, I don’t think that would be successful long-term because most individuals generally understand that the repetitive checking and re-writing is not logical or rational. Instead, the individual must learn to accept the uncertainty of the situation and sit with the anxiety until they habituate to it over time. To me, this is a classic case of OCD. Thoughts?

    I have really enjoyed the few columns of yours that I recently read.

    • January 27, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      Well, as you point out, the differential diagnosis can be tricky. I think we’d ultimately need more info about the person you’ve described to determine whether they meet the criteria for OCD.


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