Cleaning Obsession


It’s good to get dirty

Wipe, sweep, tidy up, wash hands again, undress outside the door and run to the bathroom, wipe again, scavenge, tidy up…

Is any place contaminated? Let the kitchen be cleaned too, okay! Now we washed our hands once, two, three, four and five times, yes, five times… If I don’t shampoo 3 times, something bad will happen for sure.

Cleaning routines that last for hours, that never end, that are never believed to be enough…

I’m not talking about being an orderly or meticulous person who likes to clean, we feel good when everything is in order and order, being clean is also praised in our culture, we say cleanliness comes from faith. A clean house, a clean car, a tidy office… who wouldn’t want it?

So why should being clean complicate one’s life? Especially when it has become so important in the days of the pandemic we are in.

Of course, what I’m talking about is not a cleaning that can be considered normal.

Erase, sweep, shake, then again and again…

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a repetitive pattern of thought and behavior that disrupts daily activities. We call the thoughts that appear involuntarily in the mind and cause restlessness in the person, obsessions, and the behaviors that the person does to relax against the uneasiness caused by these obsessions are called compulsions or rituals.

Obsessions are the fact that the person cannot let himself go to the natural flow of the waters of the flowing river, in fact, the person whose spontaneity has been lost repeats his balance and naturalness and tries to find it with symmetry.

The obsession with cleanliness, which takes its place among Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and makes one’s life really difficult and whose prevalence is not to be underestimated, goes hand in hand with the thought that no matter how much it is cleaned, it will not get rid of that dirt.

Although the obsession with hygiene, which can occur for different reasons, is attributed to different reasons, its origin is usually based on past life traumas. In order to avoid experiences that cause negative emotions from the past life, the behavior of cleaning everything with the belief that it is dirty as a defense emerges. In addition, the effect of environmental and genetic factors should not be ignored.

The nature of the bond established within the family, many behaviors of the parents, evaluation of them as dirty, dirty or bad, the cleaning disease of family members, the evaluation and suppression of sexuality as sin, shame and uncleanness, exposure to violence, growing up in an environment where their interests and needs cannot be met…

Even though people with cleaning disorders are aware that their repetitive cleaning behaviors are irrational, they turn these thoughts into action in order to get rid of the disturbing thoughts that circulate in their heads and keep them busy.

When we say to what level the cleaning behavior is ‘normal’, and after which level it is ‘abnormal’ or considered a disorder, we can say the following.

A disease of cleanliness can be mentioned when it disrupts the flow of a person’s daily life, interferes with functionality, when difficulties begin to continue in the normal course of life or when relations with the environment are affected. Apart from all these, even if there is no obvious pollution or mess, when you start to want to do an intense cleaning and you start cleaning for hours without end, this becomes a problem.

What are the symptoms for cleaning sickness?

Personal hygiene is very important for cleaning patients. Shower times are longer than others and no matter how much they wash, there is still a question mark in the back of their minds that they are not fully cleaned.

Confronted with the constant fear of contamination, cleaning patients have a recurrent obsession with hand washing. In some advanced cases, wounds or cracks may occur due to washing hands frequently and with some hygiene items. There are also cleaning patients who do this more than once because of the belief that the dirt will not reach anywhere. The need for repetitions such as 3,5,7 while cleaning is another behavioral pattern.

Cleaning patients may feel the need to wash many times, especially because they find everything that comes from outside to the area they live in dirty. No matter how much cleaning is done, it is not enough, the thought that it is dirty continues, he thinks that he is not free from dirt.

These behaviors have a significant negative impact on the person’s family and environment.

Obsessive behaviors against certain situations can also be seen in those who have a cleaning disorder. While the thought of being dirty constantly manifests itself in some patients, some cleaning patients may repeat their behaviors to avoid negative situations and repetitive thoughts. For example, if I don’t wash my hands 3 times, something can happen to my mother (usually disaster scenarios).

So, is it possible to treat?

Of course, just as with other psychological disorders, treating people with hygiene diseases allows them to continue their lives in a healthy way. While medication and psychotherapy are recommended in some cases, psychotherapy is often sufficient. The most effective method used in the treatment of OCD and obsessions is cognitive behavioral therapy.

Let’s say you got some dirt on your hands, you washed them 1, 2, 3, 10, 20, 50 and 100 times. Is there a difference between the 50th wash and the 100th wash? So why wash 100 times…

In fact, the most important step in the treatment process with cleaning patients is cognitive restructuring. Our mind tends to focus on the negative, whereas obsession has repetitions that constantly focus on the negative filter of the mind, trapping it and causing you to constantly look at life through the same hole as if it were a prisoner. It works with the person’s distorted thoughts through reframing through cognitive therapy.

Focus on the positive like Pollyannaism instead of saying everything, exploring with an expert and discovering whether it is pollution or repetitive thoughts.

If you are obsessed with cleaning very intensely, look at what you are trying to clean, not your hands or your house, but your thoughts you are trying to clean.What you have washed 50 times, your thoughts and your anxiety…

All repetitive behaviors are done to some extent to relieve thoughts and the anxiety they cause. If we look at the world with thoughts, anxieties may follow us. Thoughts are perceptual, our perceptions can sometimes mislead us. We tend to focus on negative stories (the mind is like that, it flies and tends to focus negatively) But getting lost in stories always makes us wash our hands and our house. To accept that every thought is in flux and is a guest, regardless of past and future connections.

By exploring in the company of an expert, without forgetting family and environmental support.

Accepting the possibility of getting dirty instead of cleaning to avoid getting dirty. To be able to see the cyclical behaviors done to relieve repetitive thoughts.

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