Introducing The Healthy Compulsive Project Podcast, offering information, insights, and inspiration to optimize the obsessive-compulsive personality. From clinical, personal and Jungian perspectives, help with depth and a light touch for OCPD, perfectionists, control freaks and micro-managers.
Wait, The Healthy Compulsive? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
Not in my book. And I’ll tell you how I got there.
Five years ago I launched The Healthy Compulsive Project, starting with a blog, and later adding a book. Today I'm launching a podcast, an OCPD podcast, but for many more than just those with OCPD.
The goal of the Project has been to help people with obsessive, compulsive, perfectionistic, micro-managing and type A personalities live healthier and more fulfilling lives, lives that are better not despite their compulsive tendencies, but because of them.
The audience for the Project includes people with Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder—OCPD, and those who might just have a few of the personality traits and don’t meet the full criteria for the personality disorder. It’s not intended for people with OCD, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is a different condition, with different implications for treatment. I’ll explain the differences later.
The obsessive-compulsive personality type has much to offer. Harness the drive at the root of it and you’ve got direction, energy and purpose.
The word compulsive derives from the words compelled and driven. And that’s not always bad. Lots of good has come out of having an inner drive that’s hard to resist.
But I’m not Pollyannaish about this either. When hijacked by anxiety and insecurity, this energy can lead to a really lousy life: depression, rigidity, chronic irritability, work addiction, and paralyzing perfectionism. And it can destroy relationships.
Healthy and unhealthy compulsiveness are like water and ice. It’s the same material. But, one flows freely and the other’s frozen stiff. All the insistence and determination characteristic of compulsives can be used constructively or destructively.
To move toward the healthier end of the compulsive spectrum takes the willingness to face uncomfortable feelings and to forgo the security of overdoing everything with planning, control and perfectionism.
You may notice that I’m lopping together the terms compulsive, obsessive, perfectionistic and Type A. While there are differences between them, there is more overlap than distinction. In the great battle between specificity and efficiency, I’m going to side with efficiency on this one, referring to the lot of them as compulsives, rather than listing everyone that my comments might apply to each time.
I’ll explain the differences in future episodes, but for now I’ll say that a common denominator is that they all feel compelled to bring order to what they experience as chaos—for worse and better. And within the obsessive-compulsive personality there are four subtypes. I’ll also explain those later, but for now we can describe them briefly as leader, worker, server, and thinker.
The New OCPD Podcast
Getting back to The Healthy Compulsive Project I began five years ago…Reactions to the book and the blog have been gratifying and encouraging. It seems that they’ve helped lots of folks look at their condition in a very different way, and to behave in ways that leave them less depressed. It’s also helped some of their loved ones feel less oppressed. Many people who’ve been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder have found hope in the perspective that I’ve outlined, helping them to shake the impression that having a personality disorder meant they were doomed to a lifetime of misery.
But a number of readers have suggested that, given how busy they are, and how much being efficient means to them, it would be easier if they could listen to the blog, rather than reading it. So, starting today, the Healthy Compulsive Project will also include a podcast. The content in the recorded podcast will be virtually the same as that in the written blog. This way you can listen to it while you drive to your job, walk your mongrel, cook your red beans and rice, and tackle other mindless projects so that you feel like you’re being more productive.
The blog has over 80 written entries at this point, with one or two new posts coming out each month. I’ll continue to post new, written blogs. The podcasts will include the recorded version of new blog posts, along with recordings of older blog posts.
Some episodes will be like an audio magazine—several articles addressing a central theme. Others will include only one blog article.
Upcoming themes in the podcast will include:
• Origins of the compulsive personality
• Psychotherapy treatment
• Relationships and Parenting
• Perfectionism and Control
• Shame and guilt
• Archetypes and Carl Jung
• Depression and Anxiety
• Mindfulness Meditation
One bummer about podcasts is that you can’t hyperlink. I like to hyperlink in the blog so that you know that I’m not just making this stuff up. Well, not all of it. Research on OCPD is still scant, but I do quote the studies we do have when they’re relevant. If you want to follow up on any research that I quote, you can find links to the studies in the blog.
Two final notes about tone and content in this podcast. Compulsives are a serious lot, and this is a serious subject. I will respect that. But compulsives are also too serious for their own good, and the path forward is being a little less tightly wound. (Or maybe even a lot less tightly wound.) So at times my tone will be lighter, more playful and even mischievous. Making room for mirth is an intentional part of the Project.
Film and television reviews might seem frivolous as well when trying to escape the confines of a personality disorder. But while information, logic and insight are powerful, they are not always powerful enough in themselves to change us. Characters such as Ove in A Man Called Ove (or Otto, in the more recent Tom Hanks version), Chidi in the television series The Good Place, and Mrs. Poulteny in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, can all repel or inspire us to make changes that reason and information cannot.
It doesn’t take an Einstein to know that doing the same thing the same way will lead to the same problem. Try different for a change.
How Has it Come to This?
So how did I get here? First of all, I have my own compulsive tendencies which you’ll hear about on occasion. Most days I don’t meet the full criteria for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, but I do know all too well how the drive to perfect, plan, please and complete can get out of control.
Just as an example, as the outlines of this podcast began to take shape, excitement turned to despair as I realized that I wouldn’t be able to make it as elegant and as perfect as I wanted it to be. I almost backed out. My challenge will be not to make it perfect, but to welcome its imperfections—however imperfectly—while still producing something that makes sense and is helpful to you guys out there.
Back to how I got here….In my clinical practice I began noticing the obsessive-compuls...