Overlooked by mainstream media, a new disorder was added recently to the updated version of the American Psychiatric Association’s official guide to classifying mental illnesses: Cleaning Supplies Blindness.
The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders,” to be officially released at the APA’s regularly scheduled annual meeting in San Francisco in May, now lists Cleaning Supplies Blindness between Obsessive Compulsive Behavior and Post-Traumatic Clutter Disorder. This change will significantly affect how patients are labeled and limit the number of cleaning supplies they may subscribe to at any one time.
Cleaning Supplies Blindness is characterized by a frantic housekeeping session followed by the random distribution of cleaning supplies in open places. Patients often proclaim they are finished cleaning even when bottles of Fantastik, dispensers of dusting spray and used sponges can be observed in supposedly “clean” rooms. In severe cases, patients actually use cleaning supplies in their interior decorating schemes, such as aquamarine Windex bottles as table centerpieces in Art Deco rooms, mops used as door stops or Andy Warhol paintings of Tide. In patients beyond the point of no return, they actually venerate bottles of Lysol or Febreze.
A clear warning sign: Bottles of hand soap on the edge of the sink are joined by dishwashing liquid and irrational tirades about “dirty sinks” which are marred only by water spots.
Most troublesome for the loved ones of victims of Cleaning Supplies Blindness is the penchant of patients to rant and rave about stacks of books and piles of dog toys; sometimes patients actually secretly throw away old newspapers belonging to roommates and spouses, leaving dust rags and unused vacuum cleaner bags in their place. Patients are often considered highly hypocritical.
Patients who meet the criteria for having Cleaning Supplies Blindness are treated with exposure therapy, meaning they must cope for prolonged periods of time with clutter considered by other people to be useful and beautiful (like out-of-circulation slick magazines, recipes torn from periodicals and attractive baskets full of electronic device chargers). Unfortunately, effective treatments are rare and the associates of such patients must simply learn to accept and live with the diagnosis of Cleaning Supplies Blindness in their loved ones.
Cleaning Supplies Blindness previously was considered a part of the Anal-Retentive Spectrum of Behaviors. Dr. John Smith, who leads group therapy sessions for loved ones of victims in an effort to prevent explosive retaliation, says the change is based on extensive research that has been going since Procter and Gamble introduced Swiffer cleaning products in 1999.
“It’s something that we need to deal with,” he said, “because it contributes to self-delusions of cleaning superiority among its victims and it really has highly irritating effects for collateral players who simply appreciate easy access to unread newspaper and magazines, however high their piles get.”