Hoarding and Compulsive Disorders – OCD


I have recently been watching a programme over here about compulsive cleaners. It has been fascinating. These people may have a disease, although to them they are perfectly normal! They feel the need to compulsively clean their houses, bodies, cars etc. for long periods of the day. Sometimes they don’t get on to anything else before they need to start cleaning again. They are obsessed with keeping everything as clean as it could possibly be and spend a lot of money and time on the products and hours it takes to get to perfection.

The programme makers have coupled these people with their opposite numbers – those people who do no cleaning or very little cleaning or who consider cleaning to be the action of moving something from one place to another. They either cannot be bothered to clean up or they cannot face touching the dirt or they are in total denial of the fact that their houses or bodies are filthy dirty. Mostly, in the programme, it was the houses that were dirty, not the people.

The compulsive cleaners were assigned the task of showing the objectors (those people who object to cleaning their space) how to best clean their houses and also how to de-clutter their space so as to make cleaning easier. In turn, the objectors helped the compulsive cleaners to see that there is a life beyond cleaning and they owe it to themselves and their families to be a little less discriminatory.

Week by week I have watched the programme and marvelled at the outcomes. It really is a revelation. I consider myself to be normal in the respect of cleaning. I like a clean house, but I’m not obsessive about it. Bringing up three sons made sure of that! However I do see in myself a hint of the ‘strict’. I do like to do certain jobs on certain days and if I can’t keep to my routine, I find myself ‘outside of my comfort zone’ and feeling a bit anxious. I like to do my jobs in the mornings and then I can ‘play’ in the afternoons. I feel relaxed about picking up my knitting or sewing or spinning or whatever, once the chores are done, but not before!

Having watched the programme for a few weeks, I began to realise that some of the people on the receiving end of the show really did not know how to clean.  Amazing! I was brought up in the 1950’s when mums mostly stayed at home to take care of the family here in England so I was able to observe at first hand how to keep a house clean, how to do the ironing, cooking etc. My mother was a good role model so I became a clone of her, I suppose. I have very fond memories of growing up with a mum at home all the time and when I had my own family, I wanted to do the same. I managed it although it did take make sacrifices.

You can watch the programme yourself here: although it may not work in America (sorry).

Hoarding clutter and not being able to throw things away is very similar to avoiding cleaning the home, it seems to me. Hoarding possessions seems to be a way of not letting go of the past and I am guilty of that myself, to a certain extent. I’ll go into this in more depth in another post.

Suffice to say that watching these programmes has made me aware of how things can overcome us and eventually leave us needing help, from family or friends or even ‘the compulsive obsessive cleaner round the corner’.

A while ago I included a category on this blog, entitled ‘Daily Chores’. I’m working on this from time to time. I started it when I came to realise that a lot of people just have no idea how to go about keeping their place clean. What it says about me is that I place a lot of importance on these issues. To me, a tidy, clean place gives rise to a tidy, clean mind. Does that sound pompous to you or just common sense. Do you agree or disagree?

Have you seen the programme? or one like it? What impression did it make on you? Are you a compulsive cleaner or a hoarder or maybe you can’t face cleaning your home? Please tell me, I’d love to know.


8 thoughts on “Hoarding and Compulsive Disorders – OCD

  1. I am certainly not a compulsive cleaner, but I don’t think I fall very far on the other end, either. My husband likes to keep things neat and gets rid of clutter very quickly. He lets me pile books and magazines on “my” spots and doesn’t bother them, but everything else he goes through and recycles the old stuff. I would probably just begin to get it all cluttered without him. Cleaning is not my favorite thing, but I certainly know how to do it! 🙂

  2. I’m not a compulsive cleaner (I don’t think) but I can’t relax if there is mess anywhere. My hubby has a joke that I need to clean the house before we watch a movie because I can’t sit there and enjoy it if there is folding to be done or a floor to be swept.

    I haven’t seen the show you’re talking about but have saved the link to watch tonight 😉

    • I’m the same Dianne. I’m not houseproud, but I do like clean and orderly. If you can’t see the show on your TV over there, I’m sure they’ll have something similar soon. It is fun to watch on several levels.

  3. I used to keep my house spotless, I did certain jobs on certain days whether they ‘needed’ doing or not. I loved to clean and felt great satisfaction when I’d finished a room. Now I’m older I’m no longer fit enough to keep my house like that and sometimes I feel very upset about it. I always wanted to be a housewife and loved Domestic Science at school, I chose that over music and French. I love watching Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners and see a lot of my old traits in some of them! It has been difficult not being so fussy but I now fill my time with hobbies like baking, sewing etc so in general it’s not so bad.

    • Yes, it comes to all of us eventually Ann. I need help to get everything done to my own standards too these days. What hurts me these days is that some people just don’t care about their houses. They’d rather sit amidst all the mess and chaos and watch TV, than set to and get on with it. Maybe that is just laziness. It wouldn’t have been tolerated when I was growing up.

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