Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder Support Group

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 Post subject: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be So?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:11 am 
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Posts: 10
Hello I am new and goodness, am I happy to see there are others like me who are so fortunate as to have "perfect" partners! :D You'd think a Perfect partner means a perfect life--who would have imagined the misery...

After reading many of the postings, the main traits are all present in my undiagnosed OCPDer. The need for control, need to be perfect or to think he is or to appear to be, and the need to be 'right' and to blame me as the 'wrong' one, and the lack of spontaneity, affection and empathy.

But after reading this board, I don't see the explanation WHY they have such a need to be perfect or to appear that way?

It's hard to believe that they are born like that, born to believe in achieving perfection. Just doesn't make sense. As to nurture, what kind of upbringing is associated with causing one to believe in the need to be perfect??


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:00 am 
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I think it might have something to do with a parent who was to overbearing or to distant. What's interesting is that my bf's brother is nothing like him. You would think they were raised by two completely different parents. His brother is very refined and highly accomplished. My bf constantly compares himself to him almost to the point of resentment. Comparing himself to him I think brings up the idea of having to be perfect I guess not sure. I sure wish I never dropped that psych class I had that's for sure.


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:33 am 
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Location: Denmark
Hi sunnysky. Welcome to the forum.

You may have noticed some of the users here have green screen names. We are the OCPDers here.

The causes for OCPD are still somewhat disputed. From what I have understood, there has to be a genetic disposition and a triggering factor in the early childhood - either violence, sexual abuse or strict discipline. Some also add over-caring parenting as another possible triggering factor.

To some kids like myself it seems overly protective and over-caring parenting is perceived as discpline. Just as lcd mention her bf's brother, my brother and I come from the same gene pool and was brought up in the same manner. The genetic disposition is probably present in both of us, but he isn't OCPD, whereas discipline and over-caring triggered OCPD in me. That meant childhood episodes my brother hardly remembers has become brick after brick in the wall that eventually became my OCPD.

When we (the nutters) lose control, a whole array of catastrophe thoughts pops up. Inside OCPD thinking it actually makes sense that say folding the towels the wrong way could lead to the whole family ending up homeless. It is of course nonsense, but the unaware OCPDer spends an extreme amount of energy on trying to avoid any and all potential catastrophes. It is an extremely stressful and anxietyfillled way of living. Not that it is in any way shape or form an excuse for being a controlling prick. I am just trying to explain what living inside the OCPD feels like. :-D

OCPD is chronic. It cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. It takes determination and a lot of hard work. Sadly, most OCPDers never become aware of their problem and of the small percentage that do, only a fraction actually make it all the way to a "cease fire agreement" with their OCPD.

Please feel free to ask if there is anything you would like to know what looks like seen with OCPD goggles on. :mrgreen:

_________________
Morten

OCPD - Only Contemplating Potential Disasters

Here's a short story on how I control my OCPD: http://ocpd.dk/Beretninger/OCPD_uk.pdf


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:52 am 
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Hi sunnysky,

To clarify, OCPDers don't believe they ARE perfect, but believe they must DO perfect.

sunnysky wrote:
But after reading this board, I don't see the explanation WHY they have such a need to be perfect or to appear that way?


OCPD is created from defense mechanisms adopted at an early age to protect oneself. They serve a real purpose at the time. But then, as one grows up into an adult, much of the original protective purpose of the defense mechanisms may be lost, but they still persist. It's like the grain of wood. Why is it always lengthwise and never widthwise? Because that's the way it grew. Can you change the grain of wood afterwards? No. Can you change OCPD for the better? Yes, though it takes a lot of effort.

What protective functions do the original OCPD defenses provide the child? Offhand, I don't know the answer. Sorry. Haven't really thought of it. I'm sure there are simple, clear answers to this, I just don't know what they are.

Psychoanalysis says OCPD is a defense against aggressive urges. Also against urges to get dirty. Maybe the OCPDer sees himself as dangerous, "too strong", out to do bad things, so he has to control himself. He basically stuffs his feelings, ignores them, and uses his conscious mind to try to control himself. Though, this isn't a good way to make aggressive feelings, or bad feelings, better. Processing feelings is the best way to do that. By stuffing his feelings, any aggression or anger inside would just get worse. Instead, it needs to be worked out, negotiated with.

The OCPDer develops a harsh conscience at an early age. Again, psychoanalysis traces this to harsh toilet training. There might be a grain of truth to that. Anyway, we can understand conscience as the internalization of parental voices. (One OCPDer even heard her conscience as the voice of her mother!) The harsh conscience tells the child to "do right" or not to "do wrong". It's not about how you feel inside, it's about doing the right thing. I wonder if the OCPD child believes he's a bad person, or was told he was a bad person, and if he'd just "be himself" and act on his feelings, he'd hurt people. So he has to deny his feelings. In that case, the protective function would be to protect other people, or to preserve beloved objects.

When I was a child, I strove to do right and be good. In middle school, I was about the only kid who didn't swear. Innocently, I didn't understand why anyone would swear, given that it was wrong to do so. Even today, I have some of that same attitude. :| I guess people swear because they can. If that's an explanation.

I'm sure there's an obvious reason, the defensive reason, that the child adopts a harsh conscience, these high standards, that I'm missing. Maybe I'm too close to it to see it.

sunnysky wrote:
It's hard to believe that they are born like that, born to believe in achieving perfection. Just doesn't make sense. As to nurture, what kind of upbringing is associated with causing one to believe in the need to be perfect??


Re: nature/nurture, I always say that the nature part is the OCPDer's hypersensitivity to stimulation, particularly hearing and touch, and just their nerves in general. The nurture part is that the parents set high standards for the child but then don't properly praise the child when those standards are met, thereby putting him on a perfectionistic treadmill.

So I'd point to an upbringing of unrewarded high standards by the parents, and a temperament of hypersensitivity to stimulation. One woman who I thought leaned OCPD said that as a child, if she came home with "A"s, her mother said she should have gotten "A+"s. And if she didn't go home with "A"s, she didn't go home!

My experience is nurture plays a large role in the formation of OCPD. Contrast to Asperger's which is genetic.

Sincerely, Paul


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 2:20 pm 
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The 'why perfect' is in my view the consequence of the fact that ocpd'ers feel extraordinarily bad when they are 'put to shame'. They learn to avoid that at all cost and 'perfection' is the best strategy to avoid being 'blamed and shamed'. Some of that flows over into the partnership they have, they definitely hate being shamed as a consequence of their partners' behavior.

As to nature and nurture, a biochemical (read: genetic) component is clear. I am not sure that any other factor needs to be invoked. If ocpd is genetic, then many ocpd'ers would have an ocpd parent, leading to the environment we all know.


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:44 pm 
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OCPDmanager wrote:
What protective functions do the original OCPD defenses provide the child?

my earliest sense of perceiving the world was that "things are not OK." Others have noted the nature/nurture dynamic as creating this. I've read about high amygdala activity as causing people to interpret things in a more fear-based way (Daniel Goleman has labeled something like this as "Amygdala hijack." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala_hijack)
Whether the anxiety & threat-perception mode causes the not-ok or the not-OK causes anxiety & high threat perception of things, I'm not sure.
(another interesting thing I've found along these lines is called "ambiguity tolerance" - low ambiguity tolerance causes us to perceive any sorts of uncertainties as threatening rather than simply the way most things are in this world.)

But as far as protective functions, here's my take: if things are not OK, what I can do is make all the things that I have control over be as right as I can, as perfect as I can, in order to defend myself from the ongoing threat of not-OK.

Take a random thought: the lawn needs mowing.
Without context, it's neutral, it's benign. But we always add context:
1. relatively neutral: you're comfortable on your couch, it's a little cold out, but you put it off last week. "the lawn needs mowing." You'll maybe moan and groan but ultimately get up and mow the lawn.

2. you've got a few phone calls you're putting off. You look out the window and think "the lawn needs mowing" Chances are you'll jump up and mow the lawn to be able to put off the phone calls. Relatively speaking, mowing the lawn now looks appealing.

3. ocpd'r - the world is a threatening place-based thinking. "the lawn needs mowing." Spawns all sorts of offshoots: I'm a bad person for not doing it yet. the neighbors think I stink. If I don't do it now I may never do it. If I don't mow the lawn what else won't I do. I'm a bad person for not mowing the lawn yet. What if the mower doesn't work. What if it breaks while I'm out there. Why don't I have a better mower. I should have more than one mower just in case. Why is it so cold out there. If it wasn't so cold, it'd be a better day to mow the lawn but it needs to be done today so this is a problem. Etc.

The underpinning here is one of threat, no matter how benign the original thought seems. And this happens with every thought.

So the response to this ongoing threat? Make sure of things. Make sure. Make sure you have a regular mowing schedule. Make sure the mower is maintained. Make sure it's always in the same place. Make sure nothing gets on it or near it. Make sure. Make sure. Make sure. And you know where that goes.

Also, there's this: the ongoing threat makes threat invisible. If a person who has average anxiety feels anxious or threatened over something, they'll notice it because it's different from the norm. But a person who perceives everything this way is less likely to notice this because that's how everything looks all the time.

_________________
'
People do not change when they see the light. They change when they feel the heat.  ― Freda Lewis-Hall


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:55 pm 
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Francie, what you wrote is very helpful. I'm always amazed at my OCPD bf coming up with THE most difficult to believe/imagine worst case scenario to "frighten" himself with.


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:50 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:03 pm
Posts: 252
I didn't get what I do now about how the world is so full of danger....
here are some moments that had surprised me as very incomprehensible that makes sense today:

my ex:

I wrote someone thank you for inviting my bf (ex now) and I to her event. How I finally came after having an open invite for a year. How we had a very nice time.
My ex:"don't get so chummy so fast with her. You should take it slow with people, things can turn out badly"

I just bought my first guitar and was invited to an old friend's house for a backyard bbq. The guitar was in the case and I took it out of the car to bring in to my friend's house.
My ex: "put it back in the car, it's not appropriate to bring it in; and it can get damaged"

driving my car and eating a nectarine at the same time
My ex: "don't eat that nectarine while driving. Your hands will get wet and you can get us killed!"

Other times no danger when I saw danger.
My ex: "so i told this drug dealer to meet us at your apt."
me: "I don't want some stranger who deals drugs coming to my place. Why didn't you tell me you arranged this. I don't want him coming"
my ex: "He's coming"


me: I want us to go for therapy.
Him: "what if we go for a year and it doesn't work?" "I will work on my issues myself"

him: "men and women can't be friends"
me: "yes they can. I have had platonic friends for many years. Nothing is going to happen"
him: "they can't be friends"
Me: "why?"
him: "because if you like them why wouldn't it turn into something more?"
me: "well if you chose to hang out with those who you are physically/sexually attracted to, which I am not w.r.t. my friends, then I see your point..."

I really didn't know of all the threats he had mulling around in his head but I sure wish he could relax more.
I wish he could have enjoyed our moments more.... Missed opportunities.


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:30 pm 
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I didn't know anything about OCPD at the time, but my exgf got really upset about her personal security...as in someone getting her, attacking her. I cleaned up my barn and stacked some boxes by the small entrance door. She became scared that some attacker could break in and then hide behind the boxes, then get us. I thought that it was so odd that she could come to that terrible scenario in an instant, but I guess her mind must have stayed in a constant, guarded state, other than when she was in the honeymoon phase for a few months. I feel bad so many times now for not understanding her. I could have been more sensitive if I'd at least known how she viewed the world. I know she was looking out for me in her own way...the only way she knew.

What a stressful existence it must be, worrying about what terrible instance could happen next.


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:43 pm 
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Hi belgianguy,

belgianguy wrote:
The 'why perfect' is in my view the consequence of the fact that ocpd'ers feel extraordinarily bad when they are 'put to shame'. They learn to avoid that at all cost and 'perfection' is the best strategy to avoid being 'blamed and shamed'. Some of that flows over into the partnership they have, they definitely hate being shamed as a consequence of their partners' behavior.


This really doesn't ring true to me. Though, it may be an issue of semantics. I wonder, when you say "shame", if you mean "guilt", two emotions which are often confused with each other, but which are quite different, even opposite. I know there will always be people, even experts, who think shame is a subset of guilt, or guilt is a subset of shame, and who will always conflate the two. But the truth is, they really are quite different.

That OCPDers avoid being "blamed and guilted", that makes sense to me. Not "blamed and shamed".

Guilt is about what you do; shame is about who you are. So, what is the arena of the OCPDer? Where does he do battle? Is it over how he feels, his emotions, who he is? No. It's over what is done, what is said, what's the truth. It's about guilt, and blame for what is done.

The OCPDer is just a step or two removed from the Dustin Hoffman character in the movie "Rainman". He gets upset if things aren't a certain way. He's not emotionally manipulative. That's not his skillset, not his world. The OCPDer's world is stuff, things, objects, what is done, what is said, what is explicit.

I think it's important to distinguish between being shame-avoidant (narcissism -- NPD), and being guilt-avoidant (having a harsh conscience, the compulsive -- OCPD).

Sincerely, Paul


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:58 pm 
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belgianguy wrote:
The 'why perfect' is in my view the consequence of the fact that ocpd'ers feel extraordinarily bad when they are 'put to shame'. They learn to avoid that at all cost and 'perfection' is the best strategy to avoid being 'blamed and shamed'. Some of that flows over into the partnership they have, they definitely hate being shamed as a consequence of their partners' behavior.
OCPDmanager wrote:
This really doesn't ring true to me. Though, it may be an issue of semantics.

So let's reword based on the concept that I believe was intended, and also from my own observations of how mortified DW gets at the appearance of even trivial imperfection/impropriety/incorrectness when subjected to potential judgement by outer circle people (or even strangers) and her lack of control over her inner circle (i.e., immediate family) members:
realitycheque semantically re- wrote:
.....[is] the consequence of the fact that ocpd'ers feel extraordinarily bad when they are '[perceived in an unfavorable light]'. They learn to avoid that at all cost and 'perfection' is the best strategy to avoid being '[incorrect/embarrassed] and blamed'. Some of that flows over into the partnership they have, they definitely hate being [judged] as a consequence of their partners' behavior."


Sunnysky, from my extensive readings there is a biological/genetic ("nature") basis for OC traits, which can be impacted by the person's upbringing ("nurture") both by environmental conditions and by human/social interactions. [Previous posts (80+) regarding this topic can be advance searched using keywords "nature nurture" and allowing all characters to be viewed.] Control over Anxiety is the ultimate (albeit dysfunctional) driving force (coping mechanism).


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:55 pm 
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I believe my mother has some of the same OCPD traits as I do, so even though I don't think she fully qualifies as OCPD, I can see a genetic cause there. I can also see similar traits in her father and her brother. My father's side of the family leans even more towards OCPD. My paternal grandfather might very well have had the personality disorder, and my father (who wasn't present though most of my childhood) might, too. So that might be a double whammy, genetically!

And while my mother (who was a single parent) was FAR from rigid and strict, there was still an atmosphere of perfectionism. So I began life with a belief that I should strive for perfect behavior. She didn't tell me that, but since I could see she expected it of herself, I believed I should do the same.

And while my upbringing wasn't rigid, I was praised for high accomplishments and lived to get that praise whenever I could.

Another factor in my life is probably unusual: I grew up in a very nontraditional setting for the first several years of my life, and then I was suddenly dropped in a conservative town and started public school at a late age. I was relentlessly teased for not fitting in (as many kids are, but this was to an extreme, because I was really very strange compared to what these middle America kids were used to), and even the teachers were baffled by my alien behavior; I could see their disapproval. So I learned to fit in by following rigid rules that I set up for myself, never quite sure what was expected of me and making it up as I went along. I wanted to be perfect. I HAD to be perfect, I thought, or I would attract more attention and ridicule. I became an extreme conformist and had an unusually high respect for authority.

So those are the early causes of my OCPD, as I see it. Maybe that helps to show that not all causes are the same. Just because someone didn't have an obviously rigid upbringing doesn't mean there weren't other triggers in their life that brought out their genetic OCPD tendencies.

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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 3:02 pm 
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Hi rc,

realitycheque wrote:
OCPDmanager wrote:
This really doesn't ring true to me. Though, it may be an issue of semantics.

So let's reword based on the concept that I believe was intended, and also from my own observations of how mortified DW gets at the appearance of even trivial imperfection/impropriety/incorrectness when subjected to potential judgement by outer circle people (or even strangers) and her lack of control over her inner circle (i.e., immediate family) members:
realitycheque semantically re- wrote:
.....[is] the consequence of the fact that ocpd'ers feel extraordinarily bad when they are '[perceived in an unfavorable light]'. They learn to avoid that at all cost and 'perfection' is the best strategy to avoid being '[incorrect/embarrassed] and blamed'. Some of that flows over into the partnership they have, they definitely hate being [judged] as a consequence of their partners' behavior."




I understand we have a difference of opinion. While I believe OCPDers feel bad when they do something wrong, you seem to think OCPDers feel bad when they're perceived as doing something wrong. I'll just take this as irreconcilable. Though ... I do have some thoughts on it. :)

It seems to me unnecessarily complicated to say the OCPDer feels bad when he's perceived to have done something wrong, rather than just to say the OCPDer has a harsh conscience, so that when he does something wrong, he feels bad.

I wonder if it's more a philosophical difference between us. Like the question, if a tree falls in a forest, and there's no one to hear it, then did it make a sound. If an OCPDer does something wrong, and there's no one there to see it, does he feel bad. This seeing and being seen, perceiving and being perceived, is so closely linked with human experience, it's difficult to separate from the issues we're discussing.

It reminds me of the movie "The Invisible Man", with Claude Rains. In that movie, and some other versions of it, when the main character becomes invisible, he slowly loses his conscience. As no one else can see what he does, then, well, why not do whatever he wants to do.

My experience is the OCPDer has his own sense of the truth, and what is the right way to do things, apart from how his actions are perceived. Even if you disagree with his sense of what is true and right. So I'm sticking with the OCPDer feeling bad when he does something wrong (based, of course, on what he believes is wrong), rather than feeling bad when he's perceived as doing something wrong.

Sincerely, Paul


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:39 pm 
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realitycheque semantically re- wrote:
ocpd'ers feel extraordinarily bad when they are '[perceived in an unfavorable light]'. They learn to avoid that at all cost and 'perfection' is the best strategy to avoid being '[incorrect/embarrassed] and blamed'."
OCPDmanager wrote:
So I'm sticking with the OCPDer feeling bad when he does something wrong (based, of course, on what he believes is wrong), rather than feeling bad when he's perceived as doing something wrong.
I wonder how useful it is for any of us to try to draw these lines so clearly. Isn't it quite likely that there's some - or a lot? - of both things going on? Usually when I find myself being quite certain about something - either about myself or someone else - is when I'm most likely to miss out on an opportunity for deeper understanding or growth.

To paraphrase St. Augustine, if you do understand it, it's not OCPD 8-)

We're always trapped inside our limited perspective of things. What about gender? For ex., to me the world looks like it's made up of men crashing and banging around - with less regard for what others think of them - and women who've learned that what others think of us can and will be used against us. Not in any absolute sense, of course, but from inside my perspective things sure appear to lean that way. And here we have an outside perception of a female OCPDr and an inside perspective of a male OCPDr.

_________________
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People do not change when they see the light. They change when they feel the heat.  ― Freda Lewis-Hall


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 Post subject: Re: Any Idea WHY OCPDers Believe They Are Perfect or Must Be
PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:53 pm 
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OCPDmanager wrote:
While I believe OCPDers feel bad when they do something wrong, you seem to think OCPDers feel bad when they're perceived as doing something wrong.


I agree with this. Paul, you have mentioned that shame is associated with NPD and guilt with OCPD, but can't shame, brought on by other disorders or experiences (e.g., AvPD, OCD, E/Ds, [sexual] abuse), affect someone with OCPD enough for them to struggle with feelings of shame? Perhaps not as heavy or persistent as the feelings of shame a narcissist must endure, and without the refusal to accept/believe in the reality of certain flaws/mishaps, but shame nonetheless.

Belgiunguy, the people you've been close to may have struggled with feelings of shame, but like Paul suggested, those feelings were probably not directly linked to OCPD.


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