She smiles and says that cleaning is her hobby. She carries around vials with medical alcohol and potassium permanganate in her purse, which also holds a set of disposable tableware and medical gloves. She prides herself on being an advocate of neatness. She believes that her passion for cleaning is one of her best virtues. At best, her behavior may appear a bit whimsical to other people. It may as well indicate a severe mental disorder at the worst.
The number of such women keeps growing these days.
According to Sigmund Freud, a pathological cleanliness stems from sexual dissatisfaction.
On the one hand, ubiquitous advertisement is to blame for the phenomenon. First, commercials are designed to tempt the consumer into buying a large variety of household chemicals that can “work wonders.” Second, many commercials feature a dream home where everything is arranged in a neat manner and looks spanking clean. After watching those commercials over and over again we just cannot help buying ostensibly magic products. We use them in a desperate attempt to combat dirt and dust in our homes as fast as we can.
Science TV channel Discovery Home and Health makes a significant contribution to promoting a pathological cleaning and neatness drive. A reality show Cleanaholics has been run by the channel since last year. The show features a number of men and women cleaning up for the benefit of the cameras.
On the other hand, cleaning is the simplest way of getting pleasure. You can feel pretty happy examining tangible results of your work. According to a survey commissioned by the above channel, 64% of cleanaholics derive pleasure only from achieving results in their work, whereas 22% of the most serious cleansing freaks are reported to enjoy cleaning per se. The findings may give a motive for those seeking to get cheap thrills regularly.
They say that a craving for making things tidy may be running in the family. In other words, a woman can spend her entire life cleaning up because she is convinced that women are destined to do that kind of job. As a result, her daughter is likely to follow suit and become a zealous housewife. However, in most cases the motives behind a person’s obsessive desire for neatness are more psychological in nature.
The majority of persons who are overly enthusiastic about their cleaning habits have a condition called bacteriophobia i.e. fear of microbes or pathogenic bacteria. Those people wage an unrelenting war on bacteria both real and imaginary. They believe that they will be able to beat the enemy someday. Unfortunately, only Pyrrhic victories can be won in the war. First, lots of friendly bacteria get killed in the process. Second, sterility can weaken the immune system, which can grow stronger only if exposed to disease-producing agents. Third, all household chemicals and detergents are not as safe as we think they are. At times they can cause grave allergic conditions.
According to Sigmund Freud, a pathological cleanliness stems from a lack of sexual satisfaction. Many present-day psychoanalysts tend to believe that dissatisfaction should not be always regarded as sexual. In any case, those with a lust for cleaning had better try and figure out what has gone wrong and why they feel unhappy about the way things stand at the moment. It could be useful to switch from house cleaning to finding solutions to your problems, which can either lurk in your mind or be caused by some external factors.
Sometimes the so-called psychological character traits underline a person’s obsessive desire for cleaning. For instances, your personal basic rule reads: “I’m always right.” But you fail to live up to this principle in your daily life, for a number of reasons. As a result, you focus on making things neat and tidy in your home instead. Your lust for power shows up to the fullest in this case. There is only one way you can arrange furniture in your apartment, and your books or kitchenware should be kept in the right places at all times. Likewise, washing floors at 2 a.m. becomes a rite that must not be broken no matter what your neighbors may think about the ungodly hour for this kind of housework.
All in all, cleaning is a good thing. Anyone would be pleased to live in an apartment that looks clean and tidy. Besides, the effects of cleaning are thought to be extremely beneficial in terms of psychotherapy. To name just a few:
- It is an act of cleaning that gives us a good chance for starting a new life. You can clear your space for something new and good by sweeping clean all the bad stuff that built up in the past.
- You can release your negative energy through cleaning when you feel stressed-out or on the verge of a nervous breakdown after having one of those days. Get down to cleaning and concentrate on your mop, sponge and water bucket to beat the blues and forget the troubles of the day. Besides, you can burn that negative energy as fuel for cleaning up your place faster and better than usual.
- According to feng shui guidelines, a tidy and neatly arranged apartment is filled with Qi, the vital energy of the universe. Qi is carried in the wind and retained within water. Wind is said to carry Qi and therefore represents the principle of change and transformation in nature. Water is said to hold energy, thus representing the principle of stability. You can form your own judgment of the practice. Any way you look at it, there can be no doubt that the human condition would be better off in a nice and clean place than in a pigsty.
- You can arrange your thoughts and feelings more neatly in your head as you move and rearrange pieces of furniture and other useful objects around your place. You can suddenly arrive at a right solution to the longstanding problem while tidying things up or washing dishes. Alternatively, you can pull the plug on that never-ending flow of thoughts and set your worried mind at rest, which is also a good thing to do now and then.
- You can feel your own authority as you arrange things in a new manner or give them a good cleaning. You hold sway over the process and therefore you are the master of your actions.
Feeling reluctant to clean up certain places of your apartment is usually a sign of rejection felt somewhere in your subconscious toward those places. Your desk in a state of constant mess may breed some doubts about a walk of life that have chosen. A messy bedroom may remind you of some problems pertaining to your private life.
Translated by Guerman Grachev
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