A personality trait disturbance characterized by an exaggerated sense of responsibility and an excessive need for perfection.The compulsive personality tends to go over and over his work with meticulous care, and has difficulty making up his mind—but once he decides on a course of action, he holds stubbornly to it. He is almost totally incapable of relaxing and usually has an earnest, driven, humorless air. A compulsive officer worker always insists on a clean desk; a compulsive housewife spends her life dusting and picking up. Although some compulsives accomplish a great deal, they usually make unnecessary work for themselves or others, and show little imagination or verve in carrying out their duties. Compulsive individuals may use their excessive drive for perfection as a means of expressing hostility by dominating others and holding them to lofty standards. At the same time they may hold themselves to high standards as a safeguard against aggressive impulses or feelings of guilt which often date back to childhood experiences with overcriti- cal parents. A certain amount of compulsiveness may contribute to strength of character and solid achievement, and the compulsive personality may be well within the range of normality. However, the individual who keeps himself under constant tension and becomes increasingly anxious if he does not achieve his high goals leaves himself vulnerable to neurosis. Not surprisingly, if a psychological disorder does develop, it usually takes the form of obsessive-compulsive neurosis. See OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE REACTION Illustrative Case: COMPULSIVE PERSONALITY. I am incessantly concerned over the fact that I am not going to get done all I want to. I always have several lists, some very extensive, and as I do the task I cross it off. I try to make a concise list of what I plan or want for the week. During the week I will add to it, but I never cross something off as being unnecessary. Even on my day off, I get up early to do something on my list. I only wish there were more than twenty-four hours in a day. (Kisker, 1964)

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "COMPULSIVE PERSONALITY," in, November 28, 2018, (accessed August 9, 2022).


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