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