This series looks at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.
Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992. If you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.
THE MANY STYLES OF EMOTIONAL RESERVE
Mutually shared feelings bring people closer to each other. Conversely, guarding one's emotions is one of the best ways to keep one's distance, and obsessives hold themselves back emotionally in a variety of ways.
A certain stiff and formal quality distinguished Drake, a twenty-six year-old engineer who was frustrated by his inability to sustain a romantic relationship. Drake conceded that his own insensitivity to signs of feminine interest has cost him a number of potential partners. "I miss out on cues. It's as if I walk around anesthetized. Sometimes, in fact, I'll pick up on the cues and act as if I didn't." <snip>
Wanda, a nurse, presented herself in group therapy meetings as being very attuned to others, ever ready to help them. When others asked about her feelings, however, she invariably responded with generalities, or she would talk about former problems that she had resolved. <snip>
Some emotionally guarded obsessives seem arrogant or "stuck-up," a facade they may only become aware of when people who get to know them reveal that this was their first impression. The obsessive is often very surprised to hear this; rather than being arrogant, he or she was feeling anxious in those initial encounters - afraid of being humiliated or rejected for some gaffe. <snip>
Other obsessives project charisma and warmth, but shut out even their close friends in certain fundamental ways.
Sometimes efforts to maintain emotional distance can give one a secretive or cagy air. <snip> Obsessives can also be secretive about things other than their feelings. One patient told me that she was reluctant to have anyone come to her home; it was a part of her that she didn't want others to see. Other obsessives hide their opinions of conceal how much they earn or spend. Some patients say they hate the idea of neighbors observing their comings and goings, or that they would never want to be be famous because of the inevitable loss of privacy.
Privacy is generally a highly prized commodity among obsessives. They're particularly apt to hide the fact they're in therapy. And even in the therapy relationship, many are very uncomfortable talking about things that are personal or "nobody's business."
That last reminds me of my grandmother, who I suspect to have been OCPD. When I asked her about her mother and her mother's family, wanting to know more about my own family history, she told me it was "none of your business." It was a phrase my ex used, often; he did not want to have house sitters when we went out of town for that reason, because then they would know all about our business.***
People who are emotionally close, share, and feel safe sharing. I admit, I've been accused by certain people of being "secretive," myself, though I see it as being more self-protective. With those particular people, there has been so much of an attempt to fix/guide/help me to feel "the right way," rather than listening and accepting what I do feel, that I have chosen to stop sharing my most intimate and delicate feelings with those people.
Sometimes there are people with whom we cannot/should not be emotionally open, because they have repeatedly demonstrated they are untrustworthy with our tender emotions. With OCPD, however, seems like nobody is ever trustworthy.