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I’ve got the upper hand here. I decide whether or not we will interact. And if we do, I decide the beginning, ending, and content of those interactions” (Mallinger & DeWyze, 1992, p. 25).

Some people interact from what appears to be a parallel universe, exhibiting unusual, eccentric, combative, hostile, and overscrupulous behavior. Baer (2009) notes that stubbornness and rigidity combine, to create dictatorial interaction – in which OCPDs unilaterally define terms of engagement. Low emotional intelligence is a correlate of their sometimes bizarre outbursts, and insistence on a “one best way” of doing things. Those who suffer from OCPD (Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder) have difficulty “reading” people, knowing how they come across, or reacting in ways that others consider mutually beneficial. Authoritarianism (regardless of circumstance) provides a level of control that helps them feel safe. Their desire to dominate surfaces in the following ways:

  • Policing. The courtesy of two-way conversation is not something OCPDs feel obliged to confer, particularly when they think they have been wronged, double-crossed, used, or in some way exploited. Escalating their grievance to the next level (by grossly exaggerating said claims) makes them feel superior. The difference in snitching (for OCPDs) is that they experience vindication in handing over suspects. Behavior that puts them solely in the driver’s seat, albeit relational deal breakers for recipients.
  • Pickiness: chronic fault finders are never pleased. What is good for today may be untenable for the next, and what appears to be smooth sailing will over time erode into a never ending “to-do list,” and series of criticisms. Perfectionism gone awry manifests in the continual drip-drip of never ending complaints. OCPDs find themselves mired in caustic, chronic, hostile, accusatory thoughts. “If . . . you constantly focus on the negative this tendency is likely to sabotage not only your relationships, but your general enjoyment of life” (Mallinger & DeWyze, 1992, p. 52). Suspicious doubters, they are ever vigilant for potential malevolent, inept, or lethargic behavior from those who merit immediate punishment (administered by them). Bossy, overbearing attacks in which others are pronounced “wrong,” bad, ill-intentioned, and unworthy, without the benefit of a two way exploration (or examination of their own inelastic thought process) predominate. OCPDs, in their pronouncements from on high are always right. They compound relational mishaps by impugning others’ motivation, with their domineering attitude exerting a ruinous toll on workplace relations. Complaining is in fact the only activity at which some OCPDs excel – relegating them to the sphere of classic underachiever.
  • Inability to learn from feedback: Trademark terms include “my way or the highway,” and “take it or leave it.” Lack of remorse in steamrolling bystanders acts as relational repellent. “Remember their style of perception is to notice and be bothered by what’s not right with things” (Mallinger & DeWyze, 1992, p. 195). Authoritative pronouncements (combined with a dogged manner of thinking) make reasoning with these people an almost impossible task. Once they have formulated a perception (particularly when it concerns another’s presumed malfeasance), it becomes intractably lodged within their brains to the point of delusion; “a perverted view of reality, incorrigibly held” (Kiran & Chaudhury, 2009). The strength of these delusions may result in compulsions to confront (in a one down fashion) the individual who committed the presumed egregious offense – in which OCPDs relate in a clumsy, bossy, overbearing manner how “flabbergasted” they felt at the imagined wrongdoing. Out of the Fog website describes OCPDs experiencing an “exaggerated perception they have been wronged, invalidated, neglected or abused” when no concrete data exists to bolster their claims. They assert control in a disproportionate fashion, believing it is actually other people saying the inappropriate (e.g., “I had to bite my tongue”). Insularity – the epitome of a closed system – stagnating sans verification results in hurled epithets at those judged unseemly. Personalities self-deemed infallible, laboring under the impression that everyone else is the problem [impediments to their workflow, and friends in constant need of correction]; encased in a delusional, self-referential world in which they are perfect, and everyone else needs improvement. The critical, accusatory OCPD lives “. . . within a bell jar . . . rebreathing only [their] own fetid air, more and more subject to delusion” (Peck, 1978, p. 52). For some it is simply impossible to have a conversation when they are not in the driver’s seat of either he-man/dominatrix. Complaining puts OCPDs in a position of power and control, with targets cowering in the one-down time out corner. Self-deputized, they hurl their unique brand of assessment at those in need of redress. They “suspect, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her.”



Baer, L. (2012). Overcoming your obsessions and compulsions. New York, NY: Plume.

Field guide to the obsessive-compulsive: Famously fussy


Integrated treatment for co-occuring disorders

How to deal with chronic complainers

Mallinger, AS. E., & DeWyze, J. (1992). Too perfect: When being in control gets out of control. New York, NY: Clarkson Potter/Publishers.

Obsession: the dark side of Steve Jobs’ triumphs

Peck, M. S. (1978). The road less traveled. New York, NY: Touchstone.




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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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