A person with a rigid personality disorder is a person who, mentally, lacks flexibility, self-criticism, fantasy, authoritarianism, and mistrust. In psychology, he can designate a person who is psychologically incapable of putting himself in the other person’s shoes. Characteristic peculiar to the paranoid. A cold, stubborn, ultra-perfectionist appearance and very straddling the principles … and if, beyond simple traits, these elements were a reflection of rigidity? The point on this disorder.
I – How to Define a Rigid Personality Disorder?
The term “psychorigid” is generally used to describe a person animated by:
– a desire to control everything and an inability to delegate tasks to others;
– the impression of always being right, a difficulty to take into account contradictory opinions;
– a lack of flexibility and a lack of adaptability to the unexpected;
– difficulty expressing feelings …
These attitudes are a source of suffering for the person concerned and for those around him. Relatives may actually end up feeling a lack of esteem and, in the professional environment, the interactions are sometimes delicate.
A psychorigid person is generally perceived as cold, logical, Cartesian, desperately stiff and devoid of fantasy, impulsiveness, and affectivity.
In psychology, a rigid personality disorder is part of the defense mechanisms of obsessive personalities. The other main traits of the obsessional are perfectionism (every detail must be studied, planned, verified), order (everything must be tidy and organized), the need for control and control, moral rigor ( no violation of the law, regulations, schedules …), doubt (the slightest decision raises questions, scruples, and procrastination).
A rigid personality disorder is a defense mechanism put in place by people with a pathological personality described as obsessive.
*** What Is an Obsessive Personality?
Obsessive personalities share a number of common characteristics:
– Perfectionism: a desire to do well pushed to the extreme; the level of requirement is so high that it can prevent the person from reaching out the terms of his projects because the result is not considered satisfactory.
– The need for everything to be perfectly tidy, orderly, clean.
– Very strong moral values, rigor in the respect of the rules, schedules.
– The tendency to be very economical (even stingy), to accumulate objects (collectors).
– To be easily influenced and to have a tendency to be very authoritarian.
– Very often doubt when making decisions.
Obsessive people are often focused on the details and find it hard to take a step back to consider the big picture. They struggle to prioritize their tasks.
II – Am I Psychorigid?
A trip to the cinema or a restaurant? They impose the choice of film and force everyone to eat Japanese. Whatever the subject of discussion, their point of view does not admit contradiction. As if life were black and white, and they were unable to perceive the nuances. Today overused, the term psychorigid designates everyone as long as he shows stubbornness, authority, perfectionism. However, rigid personalities have a specific mode of operation. Under their displayed assurance hides a great fragility.
Let’s look at the well-founded characteristics of a person with a rigid personality disorder.
1. Mistrust of Others
As a couple, with friends or in the office, these personalities are recognized for their lack of flexibility, their inability to take into account the opinions of others or to evolve. Their ego is not necessarily excessive. But they need to reassure themselves by marking their territory and imposing their mark. “The least project makes me so anxious that I take care of everything, says … For the Easter holidays, for example, I decided as if I was alone. My husband and my son did not have a voice. Thus can a psychorigid behave.
In reality, they always see the other as an adversary to be wary of, because it threatens their independence, may upset their plans …
2. A Flight in Front of His Emotions
Mechanism of protection against a world considered hostile, psychological stiffness is a way to escape his emotions. “I have a lot of trouble letting myself go, including sex … For fear of being overwhelmed, I try to keep control of my body and my emotions. So can tell a psychorigid.
Hence the relentless desire to cling to rules of conduct such as lifebuoys to avoid the unexpected. “These people have generally idealized their parents, says psychologist Jacques Van Rillaer. They, therefore, have great satisfaction in complying with the rules as they formerly obeyed those dictated by their parents. ”
3. Anguish of Abandonment
The slightest sprain of habits causes them to feel uncomfortable, the impression that the system will collapse. Anticipating events is then a way to escape this anxiety. “At home, everything must be in its place in the house … And at night, I think of how I will organize my day tomorrow. This is how a psychologist thinks and lives.
“These people suffer from anxiety of abandonment, explains Patrick Estrade, psychologist and author of How I got rid of myself (Robert Laffont, 2004). The change scares them because they are afraid of losing themselves. They, therefore, need to frame their lives with habits that have the force of law. Many are hypochondriacs: they would like to control everything, even their bodies. ”
*** Advice to the Entourage
People with rigid personality disorder are anxious. To take them face to face and to overwhelm them with reproaches weakens them more. In any case, the focus will be on dialogue. And to accept a certain amount of assertiveness while encouraging others to experience other ways of being: “What if you tried, for once, to do more like that? Faced with a companion or a companion who lacks flexibility, one can also wonder about oneself: “Do not I, too, tendencies infantile which made me look, at certain moments of my life, someone more decided than me? ”
III – How to Live with a Psychorigid Person?
Living with a psychologist is not always easy! Because these people rarely question each other, they are generally unaware of their problems.
It is possible, with great gentleness, to help them evolve on certain points: to make their voices heard in the organization of future events, to advise them when it comes to determining the actions to be carried out in priority, give the taste of letting go by proposing leisure activities and giving themselves moments of lightness …
There is a need to know better how to behave in everyday life with someone with a rigid personality disorder.
Make the remark. Strict, unyielding: psychoactive people direct their lives through an arsenal of rules that should not be derogated under any circumstances. A framework that they tend to impose on those around them. How to help them relax?
“It is necessary”, “it is like that and not otherwise”, “there is only this way of doing that is the good”: these injunctions come back constantly in the mouth of a person with a rigid personality disorder. Everything must be millimetered. The rules set must be followed to the letter.
Do you have to go on vacation? The route will be determined in advance and in no case take a side road will be considered. Do you receive friends? The house must be impeccable, and the music should not exceed so many decibels. Ditto for the recipe for the veal blanquette that must be followed to the letter, the list of races which one does not move away, the bedtime of the children, or the PowerPoint which must imperatively be in font Arial 12. More than anything, the psychorigid does not like the unexpected, the rough, or the overflowing.
Difficult to live in harmony with such a personality if one is oneself in reverse of flexible nature, even disordered. How can we explain that some people cannot free themselves from principles that they are often the first to impose?
1. “These Are Above All Anxious People”
“The psychorigid people belong to the category of obsessions, well described by Freud, explains the psychologist Patrick Estrade, author of the book You said neurosis (ed Dangles). These are above all anxious people, who need, in order to contain their anxieties to control their environment as much as possible, this must be its place, the word given must be respected, the commitments kept, etc. It is an intellectual markup which they cannot derogate on pain of losing their footing “, stresses the psychologist.
2. Confrontation Generally Has No Effect
“It’s not easy to live with these people,” says Patrick Estrade, “although there are still some advantages to be gained by them, psychorigides are reliable, they say what they do and do what they say. The problem comes from their certainty of being in the right and their refusal to take another path since they are in their right, they are convinced. ”
However, adds Patrick Estrade, life also needs sometimes inconsistent attitudes and “roundness”. But it’s useless to try to convince them frontally. “It does not work and can even be counterproductive, warns Philippe Bétourné. With these people, it is better to take a step aside to try to bring them little by little, one stone after another, to try to bend their rules.”
“We can present this as a kind of game, challenge. A person with a rigid personality disorder usually likes challenges. With some of my patients, I propose for example to try to be messy for a week. ‘experience could have positive for them,’ says the coach.
3. “With the Time and the Arrival of the Children, It Became Heavy”
“Humor is a very good lever,” adds Patrick Estrade, pointing out, in a light and benevolent tone, the tendencies to the psychorigidity of his spouse will have more effect than an accusation or a refusal en bloc to obey its requirements “.
A housewife with a psychorigid could testify for example: she noticed that using the “we” rather than the “you” was also a solution. “I quickly noticed that Gabriel had a psychorigid side, he hates disorder, needs things to be organized, does not like to change programs at the last minute. did not bother me, I was crazy about him for a whole bunch of other reasons, but inevitably with the time and the arrival of the children, it became heavy. ”
“We do not do what we want to a baby, there is nothing more unpredictable.I did not take the right way, I began to make him constant reproaches: ‘you are too demanding’, ‘you are spoiling life with your principles’, etc. And then we went to see a couple of therapists, which helped me to deal with her character and to take things differently. Instead of taking me away, she said, if my husband decides on the whole holiday program, I say: ‘What if we tried to do otherwise? And if the first week we did as you wish and the second week, as I please? ‘” Here is a good attitude towards a psychorigid.
4. Learn to Combine Expectations
“Everything has not changed and my husband is sometimes obsessive, but he also realized that my methods, which are not as ‘square’ as his, can have pleasant results and that the second week of vacation has Well done, enjoy a housewife, so we can combine our expectations. ” She says.
To live with a partner with a rigid personality disorder, it is inevitable, therefore, to make compromises. A husband, for example, managed to make his wife understand, “who needs order and rules for everything,” that he needed a place where she did not have a word to say. to say, where he could stack his bills as he pleased and let his business drag on. “I have this room – my office but also my refuge – and she does not go in. When I’m there, she knows I need to be quiet, there is the disorder that is my ‘ order ‘to me.’
5. At Work, Prefer Conciliation to Confrontation
If in a personal context there can be solutions so that psychorigid and “psycho-flexible” as Patrick Estrade names them, cohabit somehow, it becomes more complicated at work. “Psychorigides generally succeed professionally,” observes Philippe Betourné, a coach, “they are organized, very conscientious, they manage everything with a good hand and control everything, but beware of those who do not do what they want.”
“There is often the temptation for their employees – and this is sometimes a solution – to resign mentally”, analyzes Patrick Estrade. In other words, let it be said and done nevertheless in its own way, disregard the remarks and reprimands of the psychorigid leader as soon as one goes beyond a little bit of the frame. Without going so far as to let go completely, opposing silence to critics sometimes irrelevant is also a solution. Or answer calmly, ‘I understood that we did not agree, I’ll think about a solution that suits us’, rather than going into a confrontation and throw it for example’ you’re never happy anyway ‘, which will lead to nothing, “said Patrick Estrade.
In a general way, slip Patrick Estrade and Philippe Bétourné, “we must also wonder about the reasons that led us to attend and especially to marry a psychorigid person.” “It is possible that this meets a need more or less conscious of being surrounded by someone framed, logical or Cartesian, “suggests Patrick Estrade. In other words, there is a benefit to it.
IV – Psychorigidity: Which Treatment?
Psychorigid people are often very anxious and can go through depressive episodes, especially during pivotal periods (break, change of position …).
Psychological help by a professional can prove to be essential:
– The therapist tries to make his patient feel empathy for others.
– He tries to teach him to trust others.
– It helps him to become aware of his feelings and to express them.