General Question

zen_'s avatar

Why isn't there a disorder for, well, disorder?

Asked by zen_ (6230 points ) September 17th, 2010

I asked a question about OCD, and someone said they were the “opposite of it.” You get the meaning. I don’t mean to diminish from this (oft debilitating) condition or disorder, but rather, to look into something I found curious: it’s called a disorder – the opposite of order, yet we label people who are compulsively clean or neat, but not those who are astoundingly messy, dirty or both. Isn’t that… disorder?

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12 Answers

SundayKittens's avatar

OCD isn’t just manifested by cleaning, though…ohhhh no….not at all.

SuperMouse's avatar

From what I’ve gleaned watching the A&E show Hoarders, folks who are astoundingly messy typically have some form of OCD, theirs just manifests itself in mess rather than order. It is my understanding that people who suffer from chronic disorganization to the point that it seriously impacts their lives are called hoarders.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Yes. I’m with SuperMouse. People manifest things in different ways

Flavio's avatar

I am taking care of a patient now. Se has OCD and has terrible hoarding behavior. The main goal now is to help her keep her housing.

marinelife's avatar

” But what is not speculative is that messiness can sometimes be a symptom of a serious psychiatric illness. For example, some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, who are beset with unwanted and unpleasant repetitive thoughts and ritualistic compulsions like washing and cleaning, can’t stop themselves from hoarding.

They may collect years’ worth of useless things, like string, old newspapers, plastic bags and mail. Unable to discard anything, their space becomes a study in entropy. ”

NY Times

Capt_Bloth's avatar

There is a difference between hoarding and being messy, you can hoard in an organized way. I don’t hoard, don’t have OCD, but I’m extremely disorganized. I don’t think there is a term for this, but I would like to be able to tell people that I have disorder disorder, or DD.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Scooby's avatar

I’m with the Mouse on this, you only have to watch “How clean is your house“, to see the disorder in a hoarders life.. :-/ there’s something going on there…….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EN8c2Up3bw

Not for the faint hearted :-/

Aster's avatar

Compulsively clean and neat to me is just a good thing. I’d never call it a disorder. But when this stretches into washing hands 100 times a day it’s a disorder. Or if you have to read every word on the label of every purchase it’s OCD.
There is a huge difference between being a hoarder and being a slob. If you have to create a “path” to walk from one room to another, if you have year old food rotting away under boxes, if you have dead carcasses of rats under junk you’re a hoarder, not a slob.

iamthemob's avatar

Remember that OCD is a very broad term – it means exactly what it says, and the disorder describes the symptoms. An individual has come to associate performing a specific or category of acts or tasks (the compulsion) with relief from repetitive bad, destructive, and even catastrophic thoughts (the obsession). Something that is often pointless or useless has become associated with the possibility of something completely unrelated to it in many cases, but somethings the connection is much more clear. In terms of hand washing, it is often attached to thoughts that were once rational (I should clean my hands when they’re dirty because I might catch something if I don’t) and now hyperbolized (If I DON’T wash my hands for exactly this long or AT LEAST this long at this temperature in this way I will catch AIDS and spread it to my entire family). OCD is in many ways like an addiction – you have fear and anxiety, and doing this thing helps you deal with that for right now but, because you have to do it more and more it starts to take over your life so that your life becomes about doing this thing, and now that, not the fear or anxiety, is the problem.

As mentioned by others, OCD is not about cleanliness – it’s a severe and inappropriate expression of anxiety relief that can take any form. But if they are about “uncleanliness” – hoarding for example, they are not about an obsession with the opposite of order. There is a logic to the hoarders’ thinking – it unfortunately is particular to the hoarder, and objectively damaging. Some of the common associations are if they get rid of something, that’s wasteful; they might need it; that they will forget about the memory associated with the thing if they don’t have it; and even comes from an outgrowth of obsessive perfectionism (well, that’s in the wrong place, so because I can’t do it right, I’m not doing anything). Hoarding much of the time, much like all other OCD-type disorders, is a dis-order not because of a need for an opposite of order, but rather because the victim is so obsessed with maintaining order they have found one particular way that they think helps them do that that they exclude most others and stop seeing the negative results of the action. If they aren’t able to do this particular thing, they lose control of their emotions because to them they are losing control of their lives.

This is why they are disorders, and also why it’s difficult to have a dis-order disorder. Dis- generally indicates something separate, apart, different or doubled, not opposite. These are disorders because they are idiosyncratic ways the victims create order in their lives – it is order to them but disorder to the average third-party viewer. So technically, if we take the basic definitions, we get the amusing result that we ALL have a disorder disorder (it becomes a double negative). Something that might be close to what you’re thinking would be severe procrastination, which would lead to an unintended disorder, and other associated organizational issues. Politically, you’re talking about anarchists in a way. You have to think more in the “a-” prefix category to get at the things you’re talking about.

But really I think the closest thing to what you want to get at is someone who is apathetic about cleanliness, order, etc. Who just doesn’t care and lets it all go to shit. Medically, the appropriate term for those people is “slacker leeches.” :-)

wundayatta's avatar

People with bipolar disorder are often unable to organize anything any more. Their spaces tend to gather more and more clutter. This happened to me when I was sick. I just couldn’t face the idea of trying to organize my office. It just seemed impossible to do on my own. Eventually, one of my employees, who said she had OCD, helped me (at my request). We put our talents together and it turned out pretty well.

downtide's avatar

I’m like @Capt_Bloth : I don’t hoard but I am very disorganised and my home is cluttered, but to my knowledge I don;t have bipolar or any other disorder.

And for those who are curious it was me who said I was the “opposite” of OCD.

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