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Obsessive-Compulsive personality traits?

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  • Obsessive-Compulsive personality traits?

    This is a huge topic, but i want to throw out the idea that many of us folks obsessed with "Time Management and organization", and things of this nature, could actually be doing something else altogether.
    There is this little pattern of behavior called the Obsessive-Compulsive personality. If you read the criteria very carefully, it might be enlightening.
    A good exercise, is to ask a close friend, or SPOUSE, if any of these criteria apply to you. You might be surprised at the answer. There are also survey's/tests one can take.

    The main point is that sometimes the desire for overcontrol manifests as compulsive listmaking, etc., which actually inhibits productivity.

    I am not throwing around labels for people here. I see it as a continuum, with some people having a few of these traits, to some having a lot of them, to some who are almost totally paralyzed by them.
    Its no accident that folks with these traits find other folks with these traits to obsess with, sometimes to an absurd degree, when looked at by an objective 3rd party.


    http://www.mentalhealth.com/dis/p20-pe10.html
    http://www.psyweb.com/Mdisord/ocpd.html

    Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
    Diagnostic Criteria
    A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

    1. is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
    2. shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
    3. is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships (not accounted for by obvious economic necessity)
    4. is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
    5. is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
    6. is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
    7. adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
    8. shows rigidity and stubbornness
    Last edited by CosmoGTD; 03-29-2006, 02:08 AM.

  • #2
    Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

    Yep - I've already got that diagnosis! So I do the best I can & use these tools to my advantage. I think that is the most important factor. One other point worth noting is that people with OCPD are prone to addiction. However I've found that when the obsession is productive & manageable, even profitable it is very exciting. The other perspective for me is that I am not a workaholic. I can't stay in one place too long so I certainly don't want to be at work for 12-14 hours. I think I'm lucky (or my company is) if I put in a solid 4 hours in an 8 hour day. I am very easily distracted & must be careful of going off on rabbits trail in the internet. The final statement that I have is that I an NEVER bored. Ever. For what it's worth.

    Comment


    • #3
      traits vs. pathology

      Points in above posts are well-taken, but before we diagnose ourselves and get depressed, lets remember that it takes a constellation of symptoms that get in the way of functioning to have a disorder or disability. It takes creativity, committment and resources (time, $, information, friends, GTD. etc) to use any of our personality traits constructively and to develop skills that support their use. I would further add, that some of my obsessiveness is an outgrowth of poor memory inefffective problem solving/work management.

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      • #4
        Nah, just a busy-work junkie

        Obsessive/Compulsive is an abused term. I do think that many folks over organize. But I don't believe it is often due to any mental illness. Rather, it is busywork and it is human nature to do busy work to avoid the feeling of procrastination while also putting off more difficult, anxiety-laden work.

        I try to avoid this by limiting most of my "productivity" planning by incorporating it into my weekly review. I get to work extra early on Fridays and spend a good hour or two in planning, organizing, cleaning, and brainstorming. By 8:45, I am make myself stop. I never do it at the end of the day, it tends to drag on longer then it should, or I just never get to it and am not in the mood to do it on a Friday evening.

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        • #5
          As a former mini-mental health professional, I'll share the following.
          It's not as if "mentally ill" people are completely different from non-mentally ill people. The stuff you read about in the DSM3, etc. are all exaggerated versions of normal stuff.
          I'm leaving schizoprhenia off to the side.

          Comment


          • #6
            Sure, Obsessive-Compulsive is an overused, misunderstood, and abused term in the popular culture.
            But the criteria set out in the DSM which i listed above, are quite interesting.

            Let me put it this way.
            When people have tried 37 Time Management systems, have 9 pieces of Time Management software, and are still looking for a "better system"...

            When they have 19 books on this subject on their shelves...

            When they have many lists of hundreds of "things to do" that just keep getting reshuffled...

            When they can't get started on something because they haven't got everything "in order" yet...

            When the organizing becomes a "thing in itself" and interferes with "just doing it"...

            Then it might be time for some reflection, to see if one might be a "getting organized" junkie.

            The idea of "controlling" our entire life is often about something else. All one has to do is to read this webboard, and others like it, to see SOME of those symptoms. Its pretty obvious.

            I am not saying there is anything "wrong" with people. I am just saying it might be useful to look at oneself from an objective point of view, to see if any of the DSM criteria apply. A person can be "perfectly normal" and still have some of these, or other traits.
            I find these traits to be the most interesting to look at.

            1. is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
            2. shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion (e.g., is unable to complete a project because his or her own overly strict standards are not met)
            6. is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
            Last edited by CosmoGTD; 03-29-2006, 02:10 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2004 8:53 am Post subject:

              --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

              Let me put it this way.
              When people have tried 37 Time Management systems, have 9 pieces of Time Management software, and are still looking for a "better system"...

              When they have 19 books on this subject on their shelves...

              When they have many lists of hundreds of "things to do" that just keep getting reshuffled...

              When they can't get started on something because they haven't got everything "in order" yet...

              When the organizing becomes a "thing in itself" and interferes with "just doing it"...
              Coz,

              Have we met? You seem to know me so well!!!!

              WOW! Seeing that in writing just blew me away. That is me to a T! Whew!

              I first read GTD about 1 year ago and have attempted several times to implement. Each time it failed (I always blamed it on the system I was using), I would wind up in Staples or OfficeMax looking for something BETTER. Here it is, 12 months later, approximately $500 later, and still nothing! Well, I am religious about creating the reference files. I have gotten many complements on my files (I am using the labeler on straight cut folders).


              Okay, so now what? I am going to read the book again - load the CD's of GTD on to my iPod - and start fresh. I'll go back to the first manual system - just a 3 ring binder with a few dividers!


              Wish me luck

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              • #8
                Should I be concerned that I just added a someday/project called
                "Minimize OCD-like personal traits"?

                Comment


                • #9
                  In the recent book, “Cognitive Therapy Of Personality Disorders” (Beck, et al, Second edition), they have an entire chapter on this issue.
                  It seems to me, the trick here is that these types of patterns, although they may seem “superficial” can actually be very intractable for people. It can also be tricky, because some of these same traits are those held by “successful” people. The problem is when some of these traits go over the line, and become counterproductive.

                  It seems to me the basis of their treatment approach is twofold.

                  COGNITIVE:
                  - elicit and transform the underlying Schemas (Core Beliefs), that are creating the automatic thoughts, and cognitions, that are leading to this type of behavior. Then you REFUTE these Schemas and automatic thoughts, using the methods of CBT. (Dysfunctional Thought Record).
                  - Problem solving, identifying specific patterns and solving them step by step.
                  - Thought Stopping, and Refocusing.
                  - Identify the person’s primary Cognitive Distortions.

                  BEHAVIORAL:
                  - Weekly Activity Schedule. Where you schedule a specific problem behavior for a specific time, and then use a therapist/coach to help you work through it.
                  - Behavioral Experiments: pick a behavior, and just try it, and monitor what happens emotively and cognitively.
                  - Graded task assignments: breaking tasks down into doable steps.

                  They have a lot more techniques listed, but those are a few of them.

                  A few interesting points they also make, are that many psychologists, psychiatrists and cognitive therapists are perfectionistic, rigid, overly controlled, rule-governed, and may be blind to the pathology themselves! After all, some of these same “skills” lead to academic and business success.

                  Also, people with these traits can go overboard in using techniques to try and overcome the problem! The very OCPD traits become wound up in the alleged treatment! This is why these things can be so tricky for people, and can go on for years and years. (the example being the person getting MORE books, MORE tapes, MORE software, MORE tools, MORE tech, implementing "better systems", making MORE lists, etc, etc, in a vicious cycle, which is not the solution and is actually feeding the problem).

                  Just shooting from the hip here, it seems to me the keys are to IDENTIFY the specific problems, and then to engage in SPECIFIC behaviors to overcome them. Also, the specific Thoughts and Core Beliefs (Schemas) need to be identified, and Disputed.
                  Last edited by CosmoGTD; 03-29-2006, 02:12 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Just kidding about my project. Anyway, the psych community is all big on biological causes, so we can all just take a pill and we won't obsess anymore.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Coz

                      I get an e-mail bulletin from Nature magazine which gives the contents for the current week.

                      This week, the contents include book reviews of “Wider than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness” by Gerald M. Edelman, and “The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach” by Christof Koch.

                      I don’t get the full text of the review, so I checked out Amazon. Amazon featured a review from Scientific American. On first skim, I caught the mood of the piece: billions of neurons, amazing potential, etc.

                      Then I caught myself in mid-thought and asked “why am I drawn to this type of stuff”? The answer came instantly – because of the chimerical notion that it might be possible to find a way to make my mind work better, faster, and be happier.

                      I look tools that I can directly apply. I also like the direction your posts are pointing, i.e. Dr Beck territory, and I will be doing some reading there.

                      But it was a revelation to me to realise that this inner search-light for mind-improving literature never goes out. I’d better second-guess some of my future book-buying impulses.

                      Dave

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by furashgf
                        Just kidding about my project. Anyway, the psych community is all big on biological causes, so we can all just take a pill and we won't obsess anymore.
                        The psychiatric community is big on biological causes. The psychological community recognizes that biology can be a factor and that medication is sometimes helpful, but the emphasis is now placed on cognitive factors, as in Beck's work. The mind is so powerful that we can convince ourselves of almost anything. David Burns' The Feeling Good Handbook has some effective exercises that help us change our interpretive thoughts, thus our attitudes and behaviors. Just as with Getting Things Done, the information presented must be practiced or nothing changes.

                        Carolyn

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                        • #13
                          David Burns was a direct student of Beck’s, so his work is basically Beck’s work simplified, and made available to the masses, in a high quality way. Burns has a new book, "Worried Sick" coming out any day now. That should be good. His books have always been very well done so far...

                          And don't forget, some of the best people in Cognitive Therapy are psychiatrists, and they are fairly anti-doping, except when deemed necessary. There are literally dozens and hundreds of tested Cognitive-Emotive-Behavioral techniques out there, all drug free. But to be honest, the trainers in CBT prefer to get MD's who are not psychiatrists to undergo the training. There is a lot of "baggage" in psychiatric training.

                          Personally, i see the brighter side of CBT folding into the new Positive Psychology movement started by Seligman. http://www.authentichappiness.org

                          At a philosophical level, as discussed in detail in Beck's book, "The Integrative Power Of Cognitive Therapy", they talk about some of the Axioms of CBT. They see people as "free agents" who are able to effect their Cognitions, Emotions, and Behavior. So it is a very exciting, and hopeful school of thought and practice, with sound philosophical, scientific and Cognitive Science foundations.
                          It seems to me, all of the CBT techniques can easily be turned from pathology to self-actualization. Personally, i go to the real pro's for good psychological knowledge, and i stay far far away the "motivator salesman" type folks. A lot of what those folks are selling is actually very damaging, in my view.
                          But guys like Beck, Burns, Ellis, and people with proper training, (and professional ethics) put out info that has been actually TESTED SCIENTIFICALLY, and is far less likely to cause damage in people. This stuff can really change your life. I see it as the latest and greatest in personal self-management, without the bullcrap.
                          Last edited by CosmoGTD; 03-29-2006, 02:14 AM.

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                          • #14
                            If I remember correctly, talk therapy doesn't do that well in controlled studies except for things like CBT with mood disorders.
                            I'm not sure how happy I personally am about a world where you have any mood, feeling, thought you want just by taking drugs. It will happen (see Brave New World), and already is happening, I'm just not voting for it.
                            I think we're heading way off the "getting things done" topic!

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                            • #15
                              There have literally been hundreds of studies showing the effects of Cognitive Therapy, compared with placebos, drugs, and other forms of therapy. It is actually more effective than drug therapy, when one includes the post-treatment relapse rates.
                              There is enormous evidence of CBT's efficacy.

                              http://www.beckinstitute.org/beck.html
                              http://www.cognitive-behavior-therapy.org/science.html

                              By the way, CBT is not "talk therapy". Of course, one needs to define these things, but CBT is a very specific structure of treatment, and has almost nothing in common with "talk therapy".
                              Last edited by CosmoGTD; 03-29-2006, 02:15 AM.

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