Disorders of Overcontrol

In the pursuit of perfection, peace of mind may be sacrificed

Disorders of Overcontrol (DoOC) refers to a cluster of psychological conditions characterized by excessive self-control and rigidity in behavior and emotions. This cluster of characteristics can be seen in disorders such as  OCPD, anorexia, avoidant personality, autism, treatment resistant depression and chronic anxiety. These disorders are believed to stem from a common underlying tendency to overcontrol emotions and impulses. People with DoOC may mask their emotions and thoughts through excessive control of their impulses, behavior and even their emotional expression.

While individuals with DoOC may appear composed and disciplined on the surface, their excessive self-regulation can lead to significant impairments in various areas of life, including social functioning, relationships, and overall well-being. The inability to express emotions and adapt to the complexity of relationships can lead the individual to just give up and avoid relationships entirely, which results in loneliness. Issues with overcontrol can also generally lead someone to be overly serious, struggle with enjoying life, having fun, and relaxing. 


Perfectionistic high achievers may be stopped from achieving their goals by their unrealistic perfectionism and fear of failure.

Not motivated by typical rewards (except achievement) and may have trouble enjoying their achievements.

Rigid rule followers believe highly in doing things in a particular "right way" and may stick to strict schedules. This may be accompanied by an obligation to a strong sense of duty and a high distress tolerance (finishing a race even with a sprain).

High attention to detail like noticing the one spelling error on a page, or the one book out of line on a shelf.

High threat sensitivity leading to being hypervigilant and easily going into threat mode. May see danger routinely, such as being afraid a parade is actually a riot.

Expressing yourself fully leads to experiencing life fully.

Learn to let go & embrace the full complexities of life

Therapy is personalized based on your temperament and personality style,   which makes a difference in the treatment approach most likely to be effective for you. Thus, the first things we determine is if your style is overcontrolled or undercontrolled.  Individuals with a diagnosis of BPD are likely to be undercontrolled and individuals with anorexia, chronic depression, avoidant personality, and OCPD are more likely to be overcontrolled. Details are revealed through a thorough assessment. 

In treating Disorders of Overcontrol, therapists first identify maladaptive patterns of interaction hindering social relationships and enjoyment of life. Collaboratively with the client, these patterns, such as criticizing others or an insistent need to always be right, are targeted for change. Subsequently, skills are taught to substitute these behaviors causing distress and disruption in close relationships. Additionally, therapy involves identifying the client’s valued goals and examining how their behaviors may conflict with these goals, particularly in interpersonal relationships. Emphasis is placed on improving the client’s social signaling skills to accurately convey their thoughts and feelings, fostering radical openness, and addressing rigid and rule-governed behavior. Therapeutic interventions also aim to reduce hypervigilance, enhance reward sensitivity, and cultivate a greater sense of playfulness and open expression in the client’s interactions.