Perfectionist vs OCD

It is easy to confuse the different between perfectionist vs OCD. You see the acronym OCD being used in social media every day.  Here’s an example from Twitter: “52 Home Organization Tips for Your OCD Side.” Unfortunately, this casual characterization of OCD minimizes the seriousness of the real disease.

Perfectionist vs OCD

What is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disease that afflicts people in two ways. First, the person experiences various unwanted urges, thoughts, or impulses that usually result in some level of stress. Second, the person performs some type of habitual routine as a way to alleviate the effects of those thoughts, leading to the compulsion aspect of the disease.

OCD is a serious disorder that prevents people from functioning normally. The compulsion gets in the way of basic, day-to-day responsibilities. As a result, OCD can lead to personal, professional, and academic problems.

The Difference Between OCD and Perfectionism

It’s easy to characterize people who are perfectionists as having OCD. However, while extreme perfectionism may be a symptom of OCD, the reality is that for most people, the quest for perfection is nothing like being afflicted with OCD. There are several ways in which perfectionism and OCD differ.


People Afflicted with OCD People Who are Perfectionists
Experience thoughts, urges, and impulses that   are unwanted and involuntary Have a completely voluntary desire to make everything “just right”
Do not gain satisfaction from performing their habits Enjoy a brief sense of accomplishment knowing that they’ve done the right thing or met a goal
Engage in specific, habitual behaviors as a     means of relief from thoughts, urges, or     impulses Practice good habits that they’ve developed with the strength of character
Practice unhealthy habits such as checking that   the stove is off over, and over, and over again,   even leaving an event to go home and check the oven Practice healthy habits such as making sure that the oven is shut off and then going on with their day
Practice habits that have a detrimental impact     on their day-to-day responsibilities Practice habits that complement their day-to-day responsibilities
Practice habits that are distressing Practice habits that are rewarding
Practice habits that are irrational Practice habits that are perfectly rational
Want to get rid of the thoughts driving them to compulsion Welcome the thoughts driving them to perfection
View their habits as a nuisance View their habits positively
Want to get rid of their habits Want to keep their habits

At first glance, you might think that people who have OCD are just like perfectionists. That’s an easy error for an untrained eye.

However, the two are nothing alike. People who are afflicted with OCD are suffering from a disorder that has an adverse effect on their ability to function properly. People who are perfectionists, on the other hand, rely on their good habits to improve their lives and the lives of others.

People who have OCD need treatment. Perfectionists may go overboard on occasion, but the perfectionism does not interfere with their ability to function in their daily lives.

If you are a parent or a guardian of a young person that you suspect of having obsessive compulsive disorder, we can help.  We have providers who are some of the best OCD experts in the US, and specialize in working with teens and young adults with OCD.

If your young person has not been diagnosed with OCD the first step would be to contact us for an evaluation.  Once we have confirmed whether or not a person has OCD, then we will make recommendations for the best course of treatment.

There is help for OCD.  Call us! 602-997-2880.


Upcoming Events

December 2023

Helpful Links

Have a Question? Contact Us

What's New

Substance Use Disorder IOP For Teens in Phoenix

The Substance Abuse IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) at Doorways is a group therapy program for teens ages 13-17 who are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. The program will take place at our teen counseling clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.

Read More

Upcoming Events