This answer is not intended as a diagnosis, as these disorders must
be diagnosed by a trained therapist, but a true neat freak easily
falls into the category of OCD or OCPD, sort of an ?OCD Light?. OCD is
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and OCPD is Obsessive Compulsive
Personality Disorder. To distinguish the two, one must be seen and
evaluated by a trained professional.
?Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) should not be
confused with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). According to the
DSM-IV-R, people with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)
are characterized by a preoccupation with details, lists, rules,
orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control at
the expense of flexibility and openness. OCPD typically manifests in
early childhood. People with OCPD don?t usually participate in rituals
like people with OCD. People with OCPD are often obsessed with being
perfect in their professional and personal lives. They tend to keep
their emotions and behavior highly controlled, and for this reason
they appear cold and aloof to others.?
?"Cluster C: The Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)
Essential Feature.: The essential feature of the obsessive-compulsive
personality disorder is a preoccupation with orderliness,
perfectionism, and control at the expense of flexibility, openness,
and efficiency. Individuals with OCPD are conscientious, scrupulous,
and inflexible about morality, ethics, or values. They may force both
themselves and others to follow rigid moral principles and very high
standards of performance. They are inclined to be severely
self-critical. These individuals are deferential to authority and
rules. They insist on literal compliance, regardless of circumstances
(DSM-IV, 1994, pp. 669-670)."
?"People who have OCD really don't want to be that way," Guardino
tells WebMD. On the other hand, people who have obsessive-compulsive
personality disorder (OCPD), which is less serious than OCD, pride
themselves on being neat freaks. Felix Unger, of The Odd Couple, for
example. "It didn't bother Felix that he ran around with a paper towel
and Windex. It bothered Oscar. Also Felix probably didn't clean a
surface over and over. He thought his behavior was appropriate because
he needed to have things perfect. He didn't want to change."?
?Don?t confuse Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder with
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) , which is an anxiety disorder.
Individuals with OCD have obsessions and compulsions that are held in
place by rituals, superstitions, and fears, whereas Obsessive
Compulsive Personality Disorder individuals are ?neat-freaks?.
What are the signs and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
?From time to time, most people wonder if they remembered to lock the
door, or go back and double-check that the stove is off before leaving
the house. Some people worry about such things constantly--to the
point of checking twenty, forty, even hundreds of times a day.
Obsessions of this degree are considered excessive and may be
indicative obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
OCD shows itself in persistent and relentless thoughts on the same
subjects and repetitive behaviors meant to quiet the thoughts or
Some common fears or obsessions include:
? Cleanliness ? a preoccupation with cleanliness can focus on the
body, leading to ritualized hand washing, showering or brushing teeth.
The fear of germs and contamination can also cause excessive dish
washing or cleaning.
? Fear of danger or disease (for oneself or others) ? worrying about
the possibility of tragedy or disease often causes excessive checking.
In the case of tragedy, a person may repeatedly return to the house to
make sure the oven, iron, coffeemaker (etc.) are turned off.?
?What are the causes and risk factors of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?
Doctors aren?t certain of the causes of OCD. There is evidence that
the brains of people with OCD are different from people who do not
have the disorder. New research suggests that people with disabling
OCD more often inherit a gene that causes them to have too many
?serotonin transporters,? a molecule that distributes serotonin in the
brain. Previous serotonin hypotheses have focused on insufficient
levels of serotonin as a cause for the disorder.?
Please read this site and other posted sites for further information.
?Here?s a list of the most common OCD symptoms:
Common Obsessions Common Compulsions
Fear of contamination/germs Washing/cleaning
Fear of harm or danger Checking
Fear of loss Hoarding
Fear of violating religious rules Praying
Body-related fixations Grooming
Need for symmetry Arranging or "evening up"
Need for perfection Seeking reassurance
?OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE PERSONALITY DISORDER
Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is sometimes
mistaken for OCD. While the names are confusingly similar, the
disorders are quite different. OCD is an anxiety disorder; OCPD is a
People with OCPD are generally preoccupied with orderliness,
perfectionism and control in virtually every part of their lives. They
see their thoughts and behaviors as desirable and generally have no
interest in changing them. Someone who spends hours cleaning the whole
house each day because he likes his home to look immaculate is an
example. The symptoms of OCPD tend to frustrate others but not the
person with disorder.?
?OCD symptoms can occur in people of all ages. Not all
Obsessive-Compulsive behaviors represent an illness. Some rituals
(e.g., bedtime songs, religious practices) are a welcome part of daily
life. Normal worries, such as contamination fears, may increase during
times of stress, such as when someone in the family is sick or dying.
Only when symptoms persist, make no sense, cause much distress, or
interfere with functioning do they need clinical attention.?
?Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Inherited?
No specific genes for OCD have yet been identified, but research
suggests that genes do play a role in the development of the disorder
in some cases. Childhood-onset OCD tends to run in families (sometimes
in association with tic disorders). When a parent has OCD, there is a
slightly increased risk that a child will develop OCD, although the
risk is still low. When OCD runs in families, it is the general nature
of OCD that seems to be inherited, not specific symptoms. Thus a child
may have checking rituals, while his mother washes compulsively.?
?Some of us try so hard to be perfect, that we become obsessed with
perfection. Everything, from the way our hair is parted to the how we knot our
tie must be perfect according to the precise standard we?ve adopted. We
chastise and berate ourselves for our imperfections and often are critical of
others who also fall short of our standards. If our perfection
obsession becomes extreme enough, we are diagnosed with
Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) and try to
ease the stress of our condition with medication and therapy.?
?Until the 1980s, about 2 in every 1,000 people were thought to be
affected by OCD. Recent studies have revised this figure to 2 out of
every 100 people. But it could be even more common, because sufferers
often conceal the disorder from other people.
Some OCD sufferers are so afraid of being misunderstood by others that
they become very skilful at hiding their symptoms, and can appear
entirely normal. In other cases, symptoms can be so severe that
sufferers receive disability compensation.?
?Researchers have found that people with OCD often score very highly
for particular personality traits. These include:
? Neuroticism - anxious and keen to avoid dangerous situations
? Impulsivity - a tendency to engage in activities that bring instant
? Responsibility - an exaggerated sense of responsibility for their actions
? Indecisiveness - a tendency to take time in making decisions
? Perfectionism - a need to get everything to feel right
?Obsessive-compulsive disorder occurs about equally in men and
women and affects about 1.5% of the population during any 6-month
The obsessions are usually related to a sense of harm, risk, or
danger. Common obsessions include concerns about contamination (for
example, worrying that touching doorknobs will cause disease), doubts
(for example, worrying that the front door was not locked), fear of
loss, and fear of physically injuring someone.
More than 95% of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder feel
compelled to perform rituals?repetitive, purposeful, intentional acts.
Rituals used to control an obsession include washing or cleaning to be
rid of contamination, checking to allay doubt, hoarding to prevent
loss, and avoiding the people who might become objects of aggression.
Most rituals, such as excessive hand washing or repeated checking to
make sure a door has been locked, can be observed. Other rituals, such
as repetitive counting or making statements intended to diminish
danger, cannot be observed. Obsessions are not always accompanied by
Exposure therapy is effective in treating obsessive-compulsive
disorder. Exposure therapy involves exposing the person to the
situations or people that trigger obsessions, rituals, or discomfort.
The person's discomfort or anxiety will gradually diminish if he
prevents himself from performing the ritual during repeated exposure
to the provocative stimulus. In this way, the person learns that
rituals are unnecessary for decreasing discomfort. The improvement
usually persists for years, probably because people who have mastered
this self-help approach continue to practice it as a way of life
without much effort after formal treatment has ended.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and clomipramineSome Trade Names
, a tricyclic antidepressant, are effective. Certain other
antidepressant drugs are also used, but much less often. Many experts
believe that a combination of behavior therapy and drug therapy is the
best treatment for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis have generally not been
effective for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.?
?The target of treatment for OCD is the core fear (i.e., the
catastrophic fear) that underlies the obsessions and compulsion. The
core fear typically differs to some extent for each OCD patient. Each
session is terminated after habituation (a 50% reduction in reactivity
to fear-producing stimuli) is achieved. To eliminate rituals, response
prevention is used to block compulsive ritualistic behaviors (e.g., in
the case of washing rituals, the patient is "prevented" from washing).
This is achieved through instruction, encouragement, direction,
persuasion, and a variety of other nonphysical means. Because the
rituals typically serve an anxiety-reducing function, the patient must
"learn" that the feared catastrophic consequences do not occur if the
rituals are not performed.
Once the active treatment phase is completed, a maintenance phase
involving response prevention activities can help prevent relapse.
Other co-occurring conditions (such as depression, family, and work
problems) may require different intervention strategies once the OCD
Dr. Turner identifies his approach as "behavior therapy." What does
this imply to you? More specifically, what do you expect of him? Will
Dr. Turner be active or passive? Will the session be structured or
unstructured? Directive or nondirective? Will it focus on the past or
on the present? Will the session focus on behaviors, on thoughts, or
on feelings? What do you expect to be the relative balance between
attention to technique versus the interpersonal interaction??
?For example, before the move, Helen spent approximately 2 hours per
day on washing and cleaning rituals and obsessed about her fears for
about the same length of time.
After the move, Helen began washing and cleaning approximately 4
hours per day and her obsessive thoughts have increased at the same
rate. This has affected her ability to complete assignments, for which
she at first compensated by bringing work home. However, she
eventually came to believe that the work papers were contaminating her
apartment, causing her to clean for hours after bringing the papers
home. Consequently, she discontinued bringing work home and failed to
meet critical deadlines.
Helen's coworkers reported to her supervisor that she was spending
hours each day cleaning her desk and work area and that she spent a
great deal of time washing in the restroom. As a result of this and
because of Helen's declining work performance, her supervisor referred
Helen to the company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP). After
consulting the EAP, Helen was referred to Dr. Samuel M. Turner because
he was was on their list of recognized experts in the field of
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Helen is the only child of second-generation Chinese American parents,
and her childhood was normal in most respects. However, she was by
temperament a high-strung child, easily frightened and generally
nervous, and her parents displayed a somewhat excessive concern with
cleanliness and germs. For example, whenever Helen came down with a
virus or common cold, her mother would interrogate her about whether
she had washed her hands immediately after playing outside with other
children, often restricting her contact with them.?
?You should not confuse obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, with
obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). OCPD is a mental
disorder that is characterized by "preoccupation with orderliness,
perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of
flexibility, openness, and efficiency" (2). A person with
obsessive-compulsive disorder is concerned with disturbing thoughts
and performs rituals to rid themselves of the anxiety.
To diagnose a person with OCD, you must first understand the exact
symptoms of the disorder. First, there are obsessions. "Obsessions are
defined as distressing ideas, images or impulses that repeatedly
intrude into the patient's awareness. These thoughts are typically
experienced as inappropriate, anxiety-arousing and contrary to the
patient's will or desires" (3). Common obsessions include
contamination (fears of germs, dirt, etc.); imagining having harmed
self or others; imagining losing control of aggressive urges;
intrusive sexual thoughts or urges; excessive religious or moral
doubt; forbidden thoughts; a need to have things "just so;" and a need
to tell, ask, or confess (4). However, obsessions are not the only
telltale sign or requirement for OCD.
Another symptom of OCD is compulsions. "Compulsions, on the other
hand, are repetitive behaviors or rituals that the patient performs to
counteract the anxiety and distress produced by obsessive thoughts"
(3). Common compulsions are washing, repeating, checking, touching,
counting, ordering/arranging, hoarding, and praying (4). Some of these
compulsions are easily witnessed but this is not always true. Not all
compulsions are obvious; many are mental processes like counting or
praying and harder if not impossible to notice. Typically the
compulsions correspond to the obsessions. For example, fears of
contamination are accompanied by hand washing and cleaning;
aggressive, sexual, religious and somatic anxieties result in
checking; need for symmetry produces ordering, arranging, counting and
repeating rituals; and an obsession with hoarding leads to hoarding
and collecting (3). Patients usually have obsessions and corresponding
compulsions, but may have either obsessions or compulsions alone.
Observing these obsessions and compulsions may be difficult for a
friend, because the person will usually hide their symptoms. Noticing
obsessions and compulsions is the first step in discovering whether
someone has OCD, but several other conditions must be met for the
diagnosis to be made.?
?Centuries ago, individuals with obsessive blasphemous or sexual
thoughts were considered to be possessed. This religious view of
obsessions was consistent with the contemporary worldview, and the
logical treatment was one designed to expel evil from the unfortunate
soul who was possessed. Exorcism was the treatment of choice, with the
person subjected to torture in an effort to drive the intruding entity
out. Surprisingly, these treatments were apparently occasionally
Obsessions and hand-washing rituals resulting from guilt were later
immortalised in the 17th century by Shakespeare in the character of
Lady MacBeth. With time, the explanation of the cause of obsessions
and compulsions moved from a religious view to a medical one. OCD was
first described in the psychiatric literature by Esquirol in 1838, and
by the end of the nineteenth century, it was generally regarded as a
manifestation of melancholy or depression.
By the beginning of the 20th century, theories of obsessive compulsive
neurosis shifted towards psychological explanations. Janet reported
successful treatment of rituals with behavioural techniques; but with
Freud's writings on psychoanalysis of the Rat Man, OCD came to be from
their emotional antecedents. As a result of these theories, treatment
of OCD turned away from attempts to modify obsessional symptoms
themselves and toward treatment of unconscious conflicts which were
presumed to underline the symptoms.?
?Clinically there is much overlap between patients with OCD, chronic
motor tic disorder and Tourette's syndrome (TS), and a genetic
relationship among these disorders seems likely (see below). Further
strengthening a possible link, clinically researchers find that about
20% of OCD patients exhibit tics.
There is evidence that selective serotenergic reuptake inhibitors
(SSRIs) are partially effective treatments for OCD. In the majority of
drug studies to date, though there has been significant comorbidity
with major depression, the depressed subjects showed no difference in
treatment response of OCD symptoms.
To date, many controlled trials have demonstrated the efficacy of
clomipramine. However, other selective serotenergic uptake inhibitors
such as fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Aropax), sertraline (Zoloft)
and fluoxetine (Prozac) have yielded comparable beneficial results.
Since differences in effectiveness among these agents are probably
quite small, only large scale trials would be likely to demonstrate
that any one drug is superior to another. It can be concluded that
several agents that selectively block serotenergic uptake diminish OCD
symptoms in children as well as adults, while pharmacologically
similar agents which do not have this serotenergic selectivity are not
nearly as effective.?
A 20 year old female feared contamination for touching various things
she considered dirty. She had to wear gloves or use paper towels to
touch various "dirty objects." If, however, she did happen to touch
her laundry, bed, door handles in public toilets, shoes, the petrol
cap on her car, or other "dirty" objects, she experienced vague dirty
and uncomfortable feelings, and she would engage in prolonged washing
of her hands, along with any clothing that had come into contact with
the object. As a result of these OCD symptoms, she was unable to work
full time and her social life was almost non-existent.?
?Failure to complete the compulsion often results in severe anxiety
or panic - but continuing to try to live with the rituals often leads
to depression. Many people live with the condition for years before
seeking treatment. The kind of compulsions that people experience are:
? rituals - doing things in a certain order or a set number of times
? checking tasks that have already been completed
? needing cutlery or furniture, and so on, to be arranged in a certain way.
These compulsions can take many forms, and this list covers only
the most commonly experienced ones.
In a year about two people in every 1,000 will experience
obsessive-compulsive disorder. Over a lifetime, about two to three out
of every 100 people will deal with the disorder.
What can I do to help myself?
As the problem often starts with thinking, and these thoughts often
provoke anxiety, these are good places to start in addressing the
problem. Monitoring your thoughts and practising relaxation can be a
useful lead into dealing with obsessions and compulsions. Having
developed skills in relaxing, and identified where the problem
thoughts occur and how strong they are - it may be worth attempting to
slowly desensitise yourself.
To do this, start by imagining a problem situation where you don't
carry out the compulsive behaviour. Rate the anxiety that you
experience, and then try to use relaxation techniques to deal with it.
Keep practising this until your anxiety is properly under control when
you imagine not carrying out your compulsion.
The next step is to try this in the actual situation - maybe by
carrying out a ritual one less time, or waiting 30 seconds before
carrying out the compulsion. Again, try using relaxation techniques to
control the anxiety. For many people, a slow steady progression from
here allows them eventually to achieve mastery over the problem.?
?Over the last ten years, there has appeared a mounting body of
evidence that suggests there is a small subgroup of individuals whose
childhood onset Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders may have been triggered
by streptococcal throat infections. This association of an infectious
cause with a neurobiological disorder may also be true for tic
disorders, such as Tourette's Disorder, Trichotillomania (compulsive
hair pulling), and possibly Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
These conclusions were drawn from research conducted by Drs.
Susan Swedo, Judith Rappaport, and their associates at The National
Institute of Mental Health. During the late 1980's, they observed
that children with Sydenham's Chorea, the neurobiological
manifestation that follows bouts of Rheumatic Fever, had an unusually
high percentage of OCD symptoms, including both obsessions and
compulsions. Rheumatic Fever is caused by Group A Beta hemolytic
streptococcal bacteria, commonly known as strep throat. In a
vulnerable subgroup of children, the immune response to the bacteria
goes awry, causing the antibodies to mistakenly identify the basal
ganglia (an area deep within the brain) as foreign bodies. The basal
ganglia then become inflamed as a result of this "mistaken
identification." This chain reaction is what is known as an
autoimmune response, when the immune system misidentifies an
individual's own cells as foreign.?
?Brain scans have shown that OCD affects the frontal cortex and the
basal ganglia (clusters of neurons located inside the brain). There is
increased activity in these areas, which normally work together by the
frontal cortex sending information to the basal ganglia, which then
transports this to other parts of the brain (4). The frontal cortex
seems to be involved in memories and decision-making, and it can also
control inhibition. Because the frontal cortex and basal ganglia
transmit seratonin as one of their functions, it has become important
to look at the ways that chemicals in the brain affect OCD. When the
neurotransmitter seratonin is being sent back and forth to neurons in
the brain, it often happens, especially in people who suffer from
neurological disorders, that seratonin does not stay in gap (synapse)
between the two neurons for long enough (5). Because of this, too much
reuptake of the neurotransmitter occurs before seratonin can show its
full effect. SSRI (Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitor) medication
seems to help some patients with OCD. With SSRIs, this reuptake is
blocked so more seratonin can build up in the brain. It is postulated
that the frontal cortex controls what is remembered, what is learned,
and has general inhibition power. In a person with OCD, the frontal
cortex has lost some connection ability with the rest of the brain and
so it cannot control whether the brain will learn a repetitive
activity or concentrate on a certain rule?
?In general, the U-M scientists found that a particular part of the
brain called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, or rACC, becomes
much more active when a person realizes he or she has made an error
that carries consequences -- for instance, losing money.
By contrast, the same area of the brain doesn't show the same level of
activity when the mistake doesn't carry a penalty, or even when a
correct action carries a reward. The rACC is thought to be involved
with emotional responses, and scientists had suspected it might also
be involved in response to costly errors. But this is the first
brain-imaging study to test that idea.
Interestingly, the U-M team had previously shown that the rACC area
became much more active in response to a no-penalty error in the
brains of a small group of OCD patients, compared to people without
the condition. OCD is often characterized by an untoward anxiety or
fear about errors or failures in certain aspects of everyday life,
with repetitive patterns of behavior to ward off or prevent such
?"It appears to us so far that OCD patients may have a hyperactive
response to making errors, with increased worry and concern about
having done something wrong," he says. "We hope that this kind of
research will help us get a handle on this condition and see which
normal brain circuits have gone awry in people with OCD." The new
finding does not have immediate implications for the treatment of OCD,
Taylor cautions, but further research could help lead to more tailored
treatment designed for each patient. The research team hopes to study
people with depression as well.?
?Age of onset is usually during late adolescence or early
adulthood, and the disorder occurs with equal frequency in males and
females. Presentation in childhood may occur, while onset in late
adulthood is rare. The disorder is usually chronic, and complete
elimination of all symptoms is uncommon, even in patients receiving
The etiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder is uncertain, but it
appears to include a combination of neurologic and psychologic
factors. The dominant neurochemical theory of obsessive-compulsive
disorder suggests that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays a central
role in the development of the condition.7 Drugs that increase the
availability of serotonin in the body are effective in ameliorating
the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, while nonserotonergic
medications have been found to have little or no effect.?
?The old belief that OCD was the result of life experiences has
become less valid with the growing focus on biological factors. The
fact that OCD patients respond well to specific medications that
affect the neurotransmitter serotonin suggests the disorder has a
neurobiological basis. For that reason, OCD is no longer attributed
only to attitudes a patient learned in childhood -- inordinate
emphasis on cleanliness, or a belief that certain thoughts are
dangerous or unacceptable. The search for causes now focuses on the
interaction of neurobiological factors and environmental influences,
as well as cognitive processes.
OCD is sometimes accompanied by depression, eating disorders,
substance abuse, a personality disorder, attention deficit disorder or
another of the anxiety disorders. Coexisting disorders can make OCD
more difficult both to diagnose and to treat. Symptoms of OCD are seen
in association with some other neurological disorders. There is an
increased rate of OCD in people with Tourette's syndrome, an illness
characterized by involuntary movements and vocalizations.
Investigators are currently studying the hypothesis that a genetic
relationship exists between OCD and the tic disorders.?
A site for clean freaks:
An OCD test:
I hope this has helped you understand "neat-freakishness"!
If any part of my answer is unclear, please ask for an Answer
Clarification, and allow me to respond, BEFORE you rate. I will be
happy to assist you further, before you rate this answer.
clean freak + OCPD
Neat freak + OCPD
Clarification of Answer by
15 May 2006 14:15 PDT
Thank you for your patience - I appreciate it. I finally realized
that what you are really asking is how certain personality traits are
formed! How do we become neat or messy people? I've been extremely
busy, and I spent a great deal of time trying to locate solid reasons
for the cause of personal habits of cleanliness, or not. I hope this
clarification helps you understand, that the exact cause of "neat
freak" behavior is not known, not that of slobs!
?What Causes a Personality Disorder? - Some experts believe that
events occurring in early childhood exert a powerful influence upon
behavior later in life. Others indicate that people are genetically
predisposed to personality disorders. In some cases, however,
environmental facts may cause a person who is already genetically
vulnerable to develop a personality disorder.?
This site gives some good background into how personality is formed:
?Many parents will notice very early on that their children behave
very differently in the same situation, and that what ?works? with one
child doesn?t with another. This difference in behavior and
personality is called ?temperament.? In the 1970s, two researchers,
Thomas and Chess, described nine characteristics of behavior in
children. Each characteristic is on a spectrum from mild to intense.
These characteristics are used to describe the child?s temperament or
?those stable, individual differences in emotional reactivity,
activity level, attention, and self-regulation? that are typical of
The nine traits of temperament are:
? activity level
? approach - withdrawal
? persistence - attention span
? intensity of reaction
? threshold of responsiveness
? quality of mood.
?A ?personal style? is a natural predisposition toward time,
stress, people, tasks and situations. Understanding a child?s style
enables parents, caregivers and teachers to interact more effectively
and get results. Researcher Terry Anderson, Ph.D., notes four style
categories: behavioral, cognitive, interpersonal and affective.?
?Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
People with personality disorders have difficulty dealing with
everyday stresses and problems, and they often have stormy
relationships with others. These conditions vary from mild to severe
and tend to be difficult to treat.
The exact cause of personality disorders is unknown. However, numerous
genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role.?
?Different theories make different predictions about how mean
levels of personality traits change in adulthood. The biological view
of the Five-factor theory proposes the plaster hypothesis: All
personality traits stop changing by age 30. In contrast, contextualist
perspectives propose that changes should be more varied and should
persist throughout adulthood. This study compared these perspectives
in a large (N = 132,515) sample of adults aged 21-60 who completed a
Big Five personality measure on the Internet.
Conscientiousness and Agreeableness increased throughout early and
middle adulthood at varying rates; Neuroticism declined among women
but did not change among men. The variety in patterns of change
suggests that the Big Five traits are complex phenomena subject to a
variety of developmental influences.?
?Personality disorders exists on a continuum so they can be mild to
more severe in terms of how pervasive and to what extent a person
exhibits the features of a particular personality disorder. While most
people can live pretty normal lives with mild personality disorders
(or more simply, personality traits), during times of increased stress
or external pressures (work, family, a new relationship, etc.), the
symptoms of the personality disorder will gain strength and begin to
seriously interfere with their emotional and psychological
Those with a personality disorder possess several distinct
psychological features including disturbances in self-image; ability
to have successful interpersonal relationships; appropriateness of
range of emotion, ways of perceiving themselves, others, and the
world; and difficulty possessing proper impulse control. These
disturbances come together to create a pervasive pattern of behavior
and inner experience that is quite different from the norm??
?They may be caused by a combination of parental upbringing, one's
personality and social development, as well as genetic and biological
factors. Research has not narrowed down the cause to any factor at
this time. We do know, however, that these disorders will most often
manifest themselves during increased times of stress and interpersonal
difficulties in one's life. Therefore, treatment most often focuses on
increasing one's coping mechanisms and interpersonal skills.?
?OCD is likely the cause of a number of intertwined and complex
factors which include genetic, biology, personality development, and
how a person learns to react to the environment around them. What
scientists today do know is that it is not a sign of a character flaw
or a personal weakness. OCD is a serious mental disorder, which is
more treatable than ever.?
Anal retentive ADJECTIVE:Psychology
Indicating personality traits, such as meticulousness, avarice, and
obstinacy, originating in habits, attitudes, or values associated with
infantile pleasure in retention of feces.?
Page 5 has some character flaws regarding neatness and messiness:
?The scientist has reason to look upon this particular case of
graphological correlation with distrust. Yet even he may acknowledge
that certain correlations exist between the neatness, carefulness,
uniformity, energy, and similar features of the letter, and the
general carefulness, steadiness, neatness, and energy of the
?Other researchers have done similar studies using photographs of
people, video clips, evaluations of people's reputations and the like.
But Gosling is the first to try it without providing any direct visual
or biographical information about the person whose personality is
being assessed. Instead, they had to rely on cues such as personal
items (though all photos and references to the occupants' names were
covered up), decorating style, neatness and level of organization.?
?Advantages of orderliness: I tend to be more practical and
logical than my peers. The trait also builds a sense of urgency and
?Disadvantages: As a result of the orderliness, I have noticed some
obsessivecompulsive behavior, nothing too serious. Of course, I can
never work in an environment that is messy. I would have to clean it
up first and then complete whatever task I had to get done.?
?People with a low sense of orderliness have a low sense of priority
and/or prioritizing and a short attention span.?
?Advantages are getting things done right the first time and getting
them done effectively and on time. Disadvantages for me would be my
lack of spontaneity and inability at times to deal with people who
aren?t orderly. I find myself getting easily frustrated when I am
making plans with someone or working with someone who cannot get
organized. No I would not change this about myself because it works
for me, but I would like to be more spontaneous at times.?
"People are different. But there is something I have learned from
25 years of teaching that no test can reveal: people are often very
different from how they appear and what they say on a test. Most
people do not reveal themselves to others. There may be evolutionary
reasons for this. Some of the warmest, touchy-feely types are sadistic
and brutal; some of the coldest, seemingly inhuman types are the
kindest and most humane. To understand how really different people
are, throw away your Myers-Briggs classifications and try to see
people by how "they" define themselves through their words and
actions, not how you or a group of social scientists define them.
?Lewis (1998) draws three conclusions: (1) religious attitude is associated with
obsessional personality traits, but not with obsessional symptoms; (2)
religious practice is associated with obsessional personality traits,
but not with obsessional symptoms; and (3) limited data on the
relationship between religious orientation and obsessionality is
Being a clean freak is ?in? now.
This site will give you a brief background on different traits:
?Having defined the objective standards of personality to which our
methods of measurement must conform, it is necessary now to determine
tentatively at least the fundamental traits with which we have to
deal. Many of the studies up to the present time have made the error
of a superficial and hasty selection of traits. They have been content
to rate subjects on such attributes as truthfulness, neatness,
conscientiousness, loyalty, perseverance, tactfulness, and the like.
It is of course possible to rate individuals with respect to these
traits, and for practical purposes such a rating would be valuable. It
will generally be found, however, that attributes of this nature are
subordinated on the one hand to particular sets of conditions under
which perseverence [sic], truthfulness, loyalty, etc., are manifest,
and on the other hand to some of the more pervasive, more deeply
lying, and far less evident, tendencies of the personality. Neatness,
for example, may be due to such diverse causes as (1) the persistence
of the parental ideal, and passive attitude toward parental authority,
(2) a phobia toward dirt, arising as a defense reaction against
infantile habits, (3) the compensatory striving of a plain-looking
girl to make herself attractive in all ways possible, (4) an extreme
sensitivity to the social behavior and attitudes of one's fellows.
Thus we see that the deeper and more pervasive tendencies are of far
greater importance than the superficial attributes which themselves
are merely the product of more fundamental tendencies in their play
upon the particular environment. The currents of the river are more
significant than the eddies and bubbles which arise through the
irregularities of the river bed and shore.?
?Individuals with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are
characterized by limited ability to express warm and tender feelings,
focusing on facts instead of feelings, because feelings provoke
anxiety. They are often preoccupied with the right way of doing things
and they insist on having things their own way. They are quite
moralistic, often to the point of absurd rigidity and extreme
insensitivity. Lists and routines dominate their lives.
Decision-making is often very difficult for the obsessive-compulsive,
as you know. They will try to reduce it to a science and then be
unable to. Then often be paralyzed by indecision and fear of making a
mistake. Other obsessive-compulsive traits may include extreme
cleanliness and orderliness. At the healthier end of the spectrum
people with this personality disorder can hold down stable jobs and
have stable family lives, but many people are quite isolated due to
their rigidity and fear of affect. In the interview,
obsessive-compulsive individuals will usually be stiff and formal and
express little emotion. They will often be detailed and quite
circumstantial in their answers to questions.?
You may purchase this article ?PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT: Stability
and Change?, for $20: ?We (a) evaluate research about the structure of
personality in childhood and in adulthood, with special attention to
possible developmental changes in the lower-order components of broad
traits; (b) summarize new directions in behavioral genetic studies of
personality; (c) synthesize evidence from longitudinal studies to
pinpoint where and when in the life course personality change is most
likely to occur; and (d) document which personality traits influence
social relationships, status attainment, and health, and the
mechanisms by which these personality effects come about. In each of
these four areas, we note gaps and identify priorities for further
?But consider the basic questions at the heart of its inquiry: How
can we understand and model discontinuous changes in behavior patterns
during development? If neither DNA nor neurophysiology operate in ways
that can predetermine development, how does development result in the
orderliness we construe in behavior? If the information that
corresponds to this orderliness is not put in at the beginning, how
can it arise during development? And if the information is not
intrinsically internal, how should we redefine the system in which it
does arise, the system that develops, that learns, that acts? These
are not merely technical questions of some esoteric branch of
developmental psychology or mathematical modelling theory. They are
problems that challenge the ruling paradigms of today's perceptual,
motor, and cognitive psychologies.?
?There are many potential environmental influences that help to
shape personality. Child rearing practices are especially critical.
In North America, children are usually raised in ways that encourage
them to become self-reliant and independent. Children are often
allowed to act somewhat like equals to their parents. For instance,
they are included in making decisions about what type of food and
entertainment the family will have on a night out. Children are given
allowances and small jobs around the house to teach them how to be
responsible for themselves. In contrast, children in China are
usually encouraged to think and act as a member of their family and to
suppress their own wishes when they are in conflict with the needs of
the family. Independence and self-reliance are viewed as an
indication of family failure and are discouraged. It is not
surprising that Chinese children traditionally have not been allowed
to act as equals to their parents.?
?A question Skinner had to deal with was how we get to more complex
sorts of behaviors. He responded with the idea of shaping, or ?the
method of successive approximations.? Basically, it involves first
reinforcing a behavior only vaguely similar to the one desired. Once
that is established, you look out for variations that come a little
closer to what you want, and so on, until you have the animal
performing a behavior that would never show up in ordinary life. ?
?[Psychology of Hygiene: Result of a Comparative Study 1968/1976?
?Between the ages of 2 and 3, children naturally want to imitate the
adults in their life. This seems an ideal time to begin teaching
children habits of personal cleanliness. They are old enough to
understand the difference between a clean and a dirty face, for
example, and they are coordinated enough to begin brushing their
own teeth with parental supervision. This is also the time that most
parents toilet train their toddlers, so it makes sense to also teach
them to thoroughly wash and dry their hands. Even putting their
dirty clothing in the laundry basket and wearing clean clothes are
habits children can learn early. It may be easier to simply do these things
for children, but eventually parents want their children to be able to take
care of themselves. Developing habits of personal cleanliness will become
a part of a child?s daily routine that will last a lifetime.?
Short of sifting through numerous volumes of psychology books, it
would appear that normal cleanliness would be the result of having
been taught as a child. Obsessive cleanliness, being a ?neat freak?
would be a personality disorder, to which even psychologists don?t
have definite answers. Genetics, brain chemistry, environment, and
reaction to stress can cause a person to go into clean overload!
It also appears messiness and sloppiness are also personality disorders.
?In the short-term therapy over 16 50-min. sessions of a compulsive
personality, there were unanimous positive changes on 17 verbal
measures, with no activity shown on one measure. The verbal measures
of Mahl, Raimy, and Bugental were used, along with Buhler, Buhler, and
Lefever's Basic Rorschach Score and a qualitative analysis of the
Rorschach. There were indications of decreases in procrastination,
narcissism, and disorderliness.?
?"About half of an individual's personality relates to genetics and
half to environment including upbringing, education and the influence
of role models. But clearly, the genes we are born with are just as
important as the lessons our parents teach us," Noble added. "So there
is no clear slate at birth. The architecture for what we will become
is already in place well before we are born. Parents should only take
part of the credit, and only part of the blame, for the kind of people
their children become."
?Personality traits are patterns of thinking, perceiving, reacting,
and relating that are relatively stable over time and in various
situations. Personality disorders occur when these traits are so rigid
and maladaptive that they impair interpersonal or vocational
functioning. Personality traits and their potential maladaptive
significance are usually evident from early adulthood and persist
throughout much of life.
Mental coping mechanisms (defenses) are used unconsciously at times by
everyone. But in persons with personality disorders, coping mechanisms
tend to be immature and maladaptive (see Table 191-1). Repetitious
confrontation in prolonged psychotherapy or by peer encounters is
usually required to make such persons aware of these mechanisms.
Without environmental frustration, persons with personality disorders
may or may not be dissatisfied with themselves. They may seek help
because of symptoms (eg, anxiety, depression) or maladaptive behavior
(eg, substance abuse, vengefulness) that results from their
personality disorder. Often they do not see a need for therapy, and
they are referred by their peers, their families, or a social agency
because their maladaptive behavior causes difficulties for others.
Because these patients usually view their difficulties as discrete and
outside of themselves, mental health professionals have difficulty
getting them to see that the problem is really based on who they are.?
?Personality disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions marked
by chronic behavior patterns that cause serious problems with
relationships and work.?