People who clean for hours, wash their hands and hair, and build their lives on being clean, live a very difficult life because of this obsession. However, getting rid of this obsession is easier than it seems. Saying that psychotherapy is often enough in the treatment of cleaning sickness, one of the experts of Doktor Calendar, Psk. Didem Çengel talks about her obsession with cleanliness.
Wipe, sweep, tidy up. Let the kitchen be cleaned too, okay! Now again, one, two, three, four and five! Yes, we washed our hands five times... If I don't shampoo three times, something bad will happen for sure. Cleaning routines that last for hours, never ending, that are never believed to be enough... Well, why does being clean make one's life difficult? The answer to this question is Psk from Doctor Calendar experts. Didem Cengel gives.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is defined as repetitive patterns of thought and behavior that disrupt daily activities. Ps. Çengel explains that thoughts that appear involuntarily in the mind and cause discomfort in the person are called obsessions, and the behaviors that the person does to relax against the uneasiness caused by these obsessions are called compulsions or rituals. Stating that obsession with cleaning is an obsessive compulsive disorder, Psk. Çengel points out that the origin of the obsession with hygiene, which can occur for different reasons, is usually based on past life traumas. Çengel continues: “The quality of the bond established within the family, the parents' evaluation of many behaviors as dirty, dirty or bad, the cleaning disease of the family members, the evaluation and suppression of sexuality as a sin, shame and uncleanness, exposure to violence, the need for their interests and needs. Growing up in an environment that cannot be afforded can cause this obsession. In addition, the impact of environmental and genetic factors should not be ignored.”
What are the symptoms of cleaning sickness?
"When a person's daily life is disrupted, when it interferes with his functionality, when difficulties begin to continue in the normal course of life, or when relations with the environment are affected," said Psk. Apart from all these, Çengel underlines that even if there is no obvious pollution or mess, when the person starts to want to do an intensive cleaning and to do the cleaning for hours without end, this turns into a problem. Stating that personal cleaning is very important for cleaning patients, Psk. Çengel states that these people take longer showers than others, and that no matter how much they wash, they still have question marks in the back of their minds that they are not fully cleaned.
Reminding that cleaning patients, who are constantly afraid of contamination, have a repetitive hand washing obsession, Psk. Çengel continues his words as follows: “In some advanced cases, wounds or cracks may occur due to washing hands frequently and with some hygiene items. 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. 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. E.g; If I don't wash my hands three times, something might happen to my mother."
Possible treatment with psychotherapy
One of the Doctor Calendar experts, Psk. Çengel says that while medication and psychotherapy are recommended in some cases, psychotherapy is often sufficient. Explaining that the most effective method used in the treatment of OCD and obsessions is cognitive behavioral therapy, Psk. Çengel said, “Actually, the most important step in the treatment process with cleaning patients is cognitive restructuring. Our minds tend to focus on the negative. Obsession, on the other hand, has repetitions that constantly focus on and trap the negative filter of the mind and cause you to constantly look down on life like a prisoner. Reframing with cognitive therapy works with the person's distorted thoughts. To explain this with an example; 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…”
Stating that all repetitive behaviors occur in order to eliminate thoughts and anxiety caused by it, Psk. Çengel says that if we look at the world with thoughts, anxieties will not leave us. Reminding that thoughts are perceptual, and perceptions can sometimes mislead the person, Psk. Çengel explains that the mind tends to focus on negative stories. Çengel continues: “If you get lost in these negative stories, you will keep cleaning your hands and your house. For this, it is necessary to accept that every thought is in flux and is a guest. You can explore these thoughts in the company of an expert, without forgetting family and environmental support. Instead of cleaning to avoid getting dirty, you can accept the possibility of getting dirty, and you can see the cyclical behaviors to relieve repetitive thoughts.”