Writings from Christine

How OCPDs Escape Responsibility

by on May 30, 2017

People with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) can seem to be overly responsible at first. But given time, their ability to escape responsibility becomes clear. After all, everyone has the same amount of time in a given day and while OCPDs seem to be more productive when compared to others, in reality they are less productive.

This is primarily because their obsessive traits, thoughts, and behaviors consume large amounts of time and energy. Their never ending desire to be right in every instance and all circumstances is exhausting and draining. This perfectionistic trait frequently alienates them from loved ones who can’t live up to the demands of their fastidiousness.

So to minimize the damage, they become escape artists. People with OCPD will gladly be responsible for things when they can be viewed as an expert. However, when others place responsibility on them, they view this as controlling. This violates one of their personal mantras: “No one will have power over me.” So they escape. How?

  1. Pester/Blame. The conversation usually begins by annoying the other person endeavoring to hold them accountable. This puts the other person off balance and on the defensive. Once a subordinate position has been established, the OCPD person blames the other person for the situation they are in claiming it is the other person’s fault.
  2. Prosecute/Project. To circumvent any accountability, the OCPD person preempts attacks by prosecuting the other person with detailed lists of their previous failures. Their accounts are usually accurate but lack any admission of their own personal failures. In a final blow, the OCPD person projects things they are answerable for onto the other person.
  3. Argue/Exhaust. This is the simplest tactic that leads to great immediate results. When confronted, the OCPD person picks one small detail and argues it to the umpteenth degree. If the other person argues back, they pick another tiny point and persistently wear down their opponent. Exhausted, frustrated, and annoyed, the other person gives up holding them responsible.
  4. Refuse/Rewrite. One way of avoiding responsibility is to refuse to accept an assignment, even if it is a task only they can complete such as a driver’s license renewal. Then the argument becomes, “I couldn’t do it because you refused to help me.” This self-victimization is designed to rewrite history by making the other person accountable for their task. This tactic often leaves the other person questioning themselves and their memory.
  5. Divert/Attack. This method begins with an outburst over something very insignificant. Then, the OCPD person exaggerates the point to incite the other person. This diverts attention away from what really is happening so an attack can be made when the other person is feeling vulnerable.
  6. Anxiety/Circumvent. People with OCPD live in a constant state of anxiety and frequently entice others to their level to justify their poor reactions. But there is another reason for this behavior, it is to circumvent responsibility. When the other person becomes equally anxious, they settle down and claim that the other person’s anxiety is due to their lack of effort. Thus, the task is dodged and the other person is held accountable.
  7. Rescue/Obligate. First the OCPD person rescues the other person from a dreadful situation. In exchange, loyalty is demanded. But there is another hidden objective to the rescue efforts. The OCPD person expects that at any given time, the other person will take on the OCPD’s tasks without question. When it is done, it is never enough to satisfy the rescue debt. When the task is not done, the OCPD person accuses the other person of being ungrateful and builds resentment.

Understanding these seven tactics allow a person to escape the traps of dumped responsibility. Regardless of a person’s mental status, everyone is responsible for their own actions. This fundamental truth is frequently avoided by those with personality disorders.

Posted under: OCPD Writings from Christine

2 comment on How OCPDs Escape Responsibility


    Thank you for your article. I read it today (two years too late) and only hours after I had come to the opinion that my partner’s continual scapegoating of me as the cause of his inability to address his piles of “admin” (letters, newspapers, junk mail) accrued over the past 12 years is an attempt on his part to abrogate all responsibility for his own “difficulties”. (This “admin” is lying in neat stacks untouched all over his house such that he cannot use rooms for the purpose they were intended. He does not process the paperwork due to an insistence that he must do it HIS way i.e.make lists, read every thing, count & check every bank statement from years & years ago, even though he is so tight with money it would have been nigh on impossible for an error to have gone unnoticed in the first place. I have to add that even if the utility companies etc had conned him out of all of the cost of his meagre gas/electric bills, the inordinate amount of time he has expended on tracking their outrageous attempt at defrauding him out of a few pounds could have been spent earning money well over and above the amount he is looking to “save”. The inefficiency of OCPD is greater than mere attention to detail.)

    I’m writing to pose this awfully circular question:-
    could the the abrogation of responsibility you write about be symptomatic of OCPD?

    I am wondering this as from what I have witnessed this personality disorder appears so engrained, dare I say insidious, that “sufferers” would seem to be almost incapable of the reflective self awareness required to bring one to seek help.

    As an insight for others I should say that my partner’s OCPD has taken me to the edge of sanity as I have tried to rationalise his behaviour. For over six years I have worked hard not confront him in order to protect him from himself. The toll has been huge. When he is in my home he is completely different. Relaxed, playful, and loving. In his own “home” he is an unrecognisable miser who won’t even make me a cup of tea for fear of incurring washing up etc (in 6.5 years he has never invited me in for a meal). He has rooms that are unusable and others which are kept pristine yet equally unusable because they cannot be made untidy by use.

    I have been unable to reason with him and so now I have reached a juncture where it is him or me. I am feeling so guilty for treating him like a “normal” person when I recognise, even if he does not, that he needs support.

    I say guilt because periodically he becomes so depressed at his lack of progress (and other erroneously perceived failings) that he stops all contact with everyone, or so he says. On reflection I actually have no idea with whom he interacts as he does not even share his friends. Nonetheless, I fear he may harm himself or become so depressed that he stops engaging with anyone if I truly confront him. This scares me as I worry he will become a recluse.

    Sadly, he does not share the same concerns about me and my health. I have recently broken my ankle and have been house bound for over nine weeks now. In that time he has not answered one text neither has he sent any. He has visited me once and he will not answer his phone. I am wondering if this is another manifestation of the shirking of responsibility. Regardless, I’m unable to extend him any further latitude. I’m done with his OCPD.

    My partner will have to find another familiar.

    To other partners I would counsel you not to surrender yourself in the misapprehension that you will be able to “reach out” to the sufferer. Their world is normal to them and until they gain an insight into their own behaviours and conduct you may never succeed without serious professional assistance. If you wish to continue in your assistance then please seek personal support from counsellors it may help you in the long term.

    Kindest to all


      Persons with OCPD do have a tendency to lack empathy and therefore will not see your sickness/injury/pain as an important detail to address. Both parties need to have their needs met in a relationship and if this isn’t happening for you, you might want to consider moving on.

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