The colloquialism control freak usually describes a person with an obsession with getting things done a certain way. This is why a control freak can become distressed when someone causes a deviation in the way they prefer to do things.[1]

A control freak can also be considered as a person who tries to make others do things the way that they want, even if the other people prefer to do it another way, and even if the initial person has no good reason for interfering.[2]

This expression was introduced around the 1960s.[3]


Control freaks tend to have a psychological need to be in charge of things and people - even circumstances that cannot be controlled. The need for control, in extreme cases, stems from deeper psychological issues such as obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), anxiety disorders or personality disorders.[2]

Control freaks are often insecure and perfectionists.[4] Additionally, they may even manipulate or pressure others to change to avoid having to change themselves.They may have had an overbearing mother or father.[5] Furthermore, control freaks sometimes have similarities to codependents, in the sense that the latter's fear of abandonment leads to attempts to control those they are dependent on.[6]


See also


  1. ^ "Control freak Definition & Meaning". Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  2. ^ a b "How to Deal with a Control Freak". Health Essentials. Cleveland Clinic. 5 May 2020. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  3. ^ Kristin Glaser, in The Radical Therapist (Penguin 1974) p. 246
  4. ^ Michelle N. Lafrance, Women and Depression (2009) p. 89
  5. ^ Robin Skynner/John Cleese, Families and how to survive them (London 1994) p. 208
  6. ^ David Stafford & Liz Hodgkinson, Codependency (London 1995) p. 131
  7. ^ Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (2011) p. 564 and p. 513
  8. ^ Quoted in Isaacson, p. 497
  9. ^ Queen Victoria's Children BBC2 January 2013