OCPD is a very prominent personality disorder affecting nearly 7.9% of the U.S. population. Learn what researchers are saying is a possible link between OCPD and problematic internet use.

It is estimated that 40% of people around the world are internet users, and up to 90% of young adults in the U.S. and Europe use it regularly. Whether it’s used for working online, buying groceries, paying bills or connecting with friends, the internet plays a significant role for many in everyday life. However, some researchers suggest the amount of time someone spends on the internet can cross over into an addiction. In addition, certain personality types may be more susceptible to falling into this category.

Internet addiction is considered a behavior linked to compulsiveness. Certain personality disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), appear to share traits that lean toward internet use disorder. OCPD and internet use share a definite link, but researchers say more standardized studies must be done before any decisive conclusions can be made.

Related Topic: Obsessive compulsive personality disorder treatment

Similarities in Characteristics

OCPD and internet addiction share similar traits or behaviors. It is unclear whether internet addiction appears on its own or if people are predisposed due to a personality disorder such as OCPD. While there are extensive studies concerning the development of personality disorders such as OCPD, there are limited, conflicting studies when it comes to internet use disorders. Information about the link between internet use and personality disorders is even more scarce.

What is clear to researchers is that internet addiction symptoms are often seen alongside other psychiatric disorders. Primarily, these occur in cluster C personality disorders, including OCPD. One study found that among those with internet addiction, 29.6% had a personality disorder as well.

A notable large-scale internet survey conducted in 2014 to 2015 found a significant link between OCPD and internet users. Using a self-reported survey, 946 participants met four out of eight qualifying criteria for OCPD. Those who met the criteria for OCPD symptoms had increased obsessive-compulsive symptoms and problematic internet use.

Notable similarities shared by OCPD and internet addiction could include:

  • Social isolation
  • Difficulty expressing feelings
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships
  • Compulsiveness
  • Over-reliance on habits

Why Do People With OCPD Tend Toward Compulsive Internet Use?

Compulsive and impulsive behaviors play a large part in the lives of people with OCPD. These traits are expressed in an effort to control their lives and surroundings. Time spent socializing is rare, and the stubborn need for rules to be followed are often accompanied by inflexibility. These behaviors can further drive off meaningful interactions with others.

The internet can help them replace the social interaction that is missing in their lives. Socializing through the internet can be controlled more easily than real-life interactions, as one can shut off unwanted connections or delete friends that don’t follow the rules. The often rigid form of daily life seen in a person with OCPD could potentially predispose them to the compulsive, habitual use of the internet.

To explore impulsive and compulsive traits in people with OCPD and problematic internet usage, further research is needed. The limited studies and surveys available add color to the overall issue, but they still leave some major areas unanswered.

If you or someone you know suffers from OCPD or internet addiction and self-medicates with substances or alcohol, contact us at the Recovery Village. One of our representatives can discuss a treatment plan that works well for your situation.

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Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Karen Vieira, PhD
Dr. Karen Vieira has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Florida College of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Read more

Poli, Roberto. “Internet addiction update: diagnostic cr[…]ment and prevalence.” Neuropsychiatry, 2017. Accessed June 13, 2019.

Chamberlain, Samuel; Leppink, Eric; Redden, Sarah; Stein, Dan; Lochner, Christine; Grant, Jon. “Impact of obsessive–compulsive persona[…]s in Internet users.” Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, August 1, 2017. Accessed June 13, 2019.

Zadra, S., et al. “The association between Internet addicti[…]ulation-based sample.” Journal of Behavioral Addictions, December 2016. Accessed June 13, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.