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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.
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.
1. Don't Take Their Foibles Personally
Obsessive behaviors usually stems from deep-seated fears, and not from any malice toward you. Yet it's easy to lose sight of this. If hardly a day passes without your spouse criticizing something you do, you may feel he or she regards you in a fairly dim light. Worse, you may start seeing yourself that way.
Try to remember that your mate's finely tuned sensors would find fault with even the saintliest, most infallible person. <snip>
Remember that the obsessive's personality was formed long before he met you, and he would demonstrate this behavior with anyone - especially someone important to him. This understanding can make the obsessive's comments or actions less hurtful.
Foibles is such a fun-sounding word, isn't it? Like fur mated with marbles, round and soft and cuddly. Dictionary.com defines a foible as: a minor weakness of failing of character; slight flaw of defect: an all-too-human foible.
Some of the behaviors exhibited by a perfectionist personality may feel very personal: the parent who sighs heavily or makes a sarcastic comment about a report card with five A's and a B; the spouse who freaks out when you're driving; the twenty-minute lecture about the toaster left plugged in.
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But when you talk to others who live with a person with similar behaviors, or review the "Crazy Rules" or similar stories by spouses, children or siblings of those with these issues, it is easier to see that it is truly not personal. It ain't you (most of the time), and truly, it ain't them, either, it is the mental disorder which has them "under the influence."
Only you can decide if the benefits of the relationship outweigh the disadvantages, and yes, the pain of living with a person who sees flaws/problems everywhere s/he looks - and never seems to stop looking or pointing them out. "Foibles" of a Perfectionist Personality aren't generally cute and cuddly.
It's like (I hear) living in Seattle: it rains there, a lot. You can buy wonderful raingear and take frequent trips to sunnier locales, but if you find clouds and frequent rain unbearably depressing, Seattle is probably not a good environment for you. Others may thrive there.
And please, don't take the distorted vision of a person with a mental disorder as your mirror. You are not a slob if you occasionally leave a towel hanging crooked in the bathroom, or a slacker if you get B's as well as A's on your report card. Do not let him or her shake your faith in yourself as a worthy and lovable person, even if occasionally you do make mistakes or exhibit your own foibles.