Obsessive-Compulsive versus Hysterical Character Styles
Unlike the hysteric, who is, in a way, over-engaged in the world, the obsessive-compulsive is disengaged from the world. In both cases, this way of being is naturally a defense. The hysteric’s perpetual attention-seeking behavior is driven by an intense inner dread that they are unwanted and disliked- they feel devalued, though maybe not consciously. The obsessive-compulsive is driven away from the world, isolating himself, as an attempt at control and preservation of an unconscious wish for omnipotence. The illusion (delusion) of control is maintained by the person’s rejecting of the world, avoiding the fear of being rejected. Thus he is making the choice before the world makes it for him.
Thematically, it seems as though the hysteric’s organizing way of managing their anxiety and fear is through the usage of defenses which ultimately manipulate and distort their own conscious experience, where as the obsessive-compulsive is generally prone to externalizing the causes of his thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Hysterics tend toward controlling how they experience the world. Obsessive-compulsives tend toward controlling what of the world they experience.