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View Full Version : Psychological reasons for being a slob?


hapaXL
10-13-2003, 03:26 PM
My friend is complete slob - piles of sweaty clothes in the living room, moldy dishes, stacks and stacks of papers all over the house - and I've begun to wonder why?

I've heard of depressed people lacking the energy to clean, but this isn't the case for my friend - he's very active. Why do people choose to live in filth? Any amateur psychologists out there?

J String
10-13-2003, 04:02 PM
Me personally, I don't clean because (a) pure unadulterated sloth, and (b) I don't have to. No girlfriend, and few visitors.

Why do people choose to live in filth? Are you talking filth or clutter? My apt. is mostly clutter (I'm a pack rat) and dust (see the afore-mentioned sloth). I do wash my dishes and take out the trash, so the place isn't a complete sty. At work I'm pretty neat and organized--my co-workers need it that way.

Don't know if any of that answers your question though...

Khadaji
10-13-2003, 06:15 PM
Perhaps they have different priorities - no one on their death bed ever said "Damn, I wish I had spent more time cleaning." Perhaps they have a high tolerance for clutter. Perhaps they are lazy.

lissener
10-13-2003, 06:40 PM
My bouts of clutter-accumulation correspond pretty closely with my deeper depressions. Beyond that, I don't have much to offer.

Tuckerfan
10-13-2003, 06:55 PM
It makes the place seem less empty.

ftg
10-13-2003, 09:10 PM
I generally see it with "I'll get around to it" syndrome. People think to themselves that they're going to clean it later, but don't. There's something going on in the brain that makes the thought of picking it up confused with the action. They merely have to tell themselves "I'll do that later" and they're happy.

I've had so many people who needed to do something for some time and just tell me "don't worry, I'm going to do that" and seem quite happy with themselves. They, of course, never do the task. In a few cases when I decide to point this out, they get real upset. They reiterate that they alread said they were going to do it.

A recently heard quote from who-knows-where originally:
"Hard work pays off, but procrastination pays off now."

Alias
10-13-2003, 11:16 PM
I think it can be a sickness. It just depends on the level of clutter or mess. Keeping things around that have sentimental value is one thing, but it gets to be a problem when you suddenly attach sentimental value or importance to everything you own. Harborwolf's mother is like this. She has fabric and patterns that are 20 years old or more, and would never think of parting with them for one reason or another. I don't think she actually believes she can accomplish what would have to be thousands of sewing projects either. She's not as bad as my great-grandmother was though. I guess she used to save GARBAGE. My mother told me that as children they would visit her, and find drawers full of empty bologna packages.

SnoopyFan
10-13-2003, 11:29 PM
I think it's just general run of the mill crazy.

My MIL has a friend whose house stays so filthy that looking at a picture of it literally made me dry heave once. She's a nice person but there's gotta be something going on wrong upstairs. I'm no clean freak but there's a point where you go from being messy to being downright friggin' disgusting.

Nametag
10-13-2003, 11:47 PM
A recently heard quote from who-knows-where originally:
"Hard work pays off, but procrastination pays off now."

http://www.despair.com/

Acsenray
10-14-2003, 10:47 AM
I'm not neat either. Before I was married, I would often let clothes and dishes pile up. I don't think I'm crazy. I like it when it's clean, but usually I find there's something else I rather be doing than cleaning.

And then there's Judith Scruggs.

Phlosphr
10-14-2003, 10:56 AM
Originally posted by hapaxl
Why do people choose to live in filth? Any amateur psychologists out there?

How about real psychologists? Can we post too?

Sorry that was a bit sarcastic.

I teach psych at a small liberal arts college, and usually cycle into teaching marriage and family, or interviewing and counseling once a year. I will say this for those of the sloth persuesion out there. There are many reasons why some are slobs, ranging from depression, anxiety disorders, however those do not account for people with no mental ailements. These people who choose to be slobs either were allowed to be that way as a youth. Or Do not see anything wrong in their slobish behaviour, or have gotten used to someone picking up for them. In marriages, this can be a source of contention.
wife: "...I always pick up your dirty undies, cups laid all over the place, cereal bowls in the sink, etc...etc..."
This is a common occurance in household where this type of behaviour is allowed. And when allowed, it is usually reinforced with one partner continuing to pick things up.
However, my professional opionion on the whole matter: Laziness. :) Pure and unadulterated.

Sofa King
10-14-2003, 12:23 PM
Laziness? What about efficiency? Some of you spend twenty minutes a day keeping your place spotless. I spend twenty minutes a week taking out the trash, one hour every two weeks doing the dishes, and one hour every year cleaning the bathroom.

You might not like how my place looks, but don't bother bitching about it to me, 'cause I've gone fishing.

SnoopyFan
10-14-2003, 09:38 PM
Some of you spend twenty minutes a day keeping your place spotless.

I WISH it took me only 20 minutes a day to keep my house spotless!

Lissa
10-14-2003, 11:09 PM
Originally posted by Alias
She's not as bad as my great-grandmother was though. I guess she used to save GARBAGE. My mother told me that as children they would visit her, and find drawers full of empty bologna packages.

Well, that could be a generational thing. My grandmother has a compulsion to save anything which might someday be "useful." (Scraps of plastic might be used to line flower pots, for example.)She was raised never to throw anything away which might conceivably be used again.

Unfortunately, our throw-away culture provides her with too many items of packaging which trigger that instinct. She has drawers full of plastic bread sacks, countless empty yogurt containers, bottles, etc. The speed with which she collects them outpaces her ability to use them. Which, in turn, leads to questions like, "Grandma, why do you have a dozen empty onion bags?"

SnoopyFan
10-15-2003, 11:03 AM
My uncle's wife brings home styrofoam take-out containers and washes them and reuses them.

Hampshire
10-15-2003, 11:44 AM
Boy you hit a nerve here.
I would bet it to be a learned behavior. My wife of 1 year has no problems with having stuff scattered throughout the house. There is not a clear tabletop or surface anywhere.
I stay on top of keeping the kitchen and bathrooms clean because I refuse to live in that kind of filth.
I believe it is learned because visiting my inlaws their house is the same way, cluttered. I think she feels clutter makes a house "homey".
We once had dinner at my old roomates house who keeps his home super clean. Afterwards I mentioned to her how nice he kept his home. She said she hated it and that it felt like a museum.

Sock Munkey
10-15-2003, 11:49 AM
I'm one of those people who hangs on to things because I know as soon as I throw it out I'll find a use for it or need it.

hedra
10-15-2003, 11:58 AM
For most of the people I know, it is a combination of factors.

1) Lack of skills, including the mental skills involved, and lack of habit. Check out FlyLady.net if you want to know what kind of skills and habits.

2) Stress. People who lack the skills for housework often see housework in too-large chunks. They don't (IME) put enough value on just doing a little, and only feel good if they did the whole thing. Which makes every blessed task a stressor.

3) Habit of mind (not seeing it). Once you let it go and let it go and let it go, it stops being something that you even notice. If you ever noticed in the first place...

4) No assigned places for things to go, so they land wherever.

5) Not wanting to have to be a grownup... there's one area of rebellion that can really stick in a bad way. Looks like laziness, but it is more a pity party or tantrum version of selfishness (with a dose of la-la-la I'm not listening whenever anyone suggests a change of habit).

I had multiple factors - I associated a clean room with invasion of my space (protected my space by keeping it too messy to invade), I never learned the habits and skills, I am a perfectionist on housekeeping (recovered) which meant everything had to be perfect or wasn't worth even starting, and I never broke the process down into small enough bits, every project was 'make this whole room sparkle and shine' not 'pick up the socks' and 'dust the piano' and 'put the books back on the shelf', etc. Bit off too much, mentally, so choked on it, and then learned never to start. Plus one bit of whiny not wanting to have to be the grownup ALL the time (partly because I became a grownup way too early, I think). Oh, and one big dose of crisis management reaction (I love to be able to completely clean the whole disaster in 3 hours, I feel GREAT about it... only that means it has to be a disaster first, and I have to freak out because someone important is coming over, and if I don't have enough warning, it can really BE a disaster that I can't manage...). Ugh.

I used FlyLady breifly, and it did teach me that I could do it, I had or could acquire the skills, I could break things into small bits and feel proud of even the slightest improvement because it actually WAS an improvement, and I learned to see even little stuff and be bothered by it... and I also discovered that I just don't want to spend my time on it enough to make it worthwhile (long commute, kids, life), so we hired a housekeeper instead. We also invested in more storage, and I am learning to prune junk ASAP instead of waiting to get around to it 'later' (getting better at it all the time!). Oh, and I found I like small triumphs more often with more consistancy than I like big triumphs seldom with more disasters in between.

See, it can get better!

belladonna
10-15-2003, 12:08 PM
I think people are confusing slobs with hoarders. Slobs leave dirty dishes laying about, step over piles of laundry rather than pick them up, clean their toilets once a decade or so, etc. I think this tends to be more likely just a personality trait than a mental illness.

Hoarders are a whole 'nother breed. My ex had an aunt who was a hoarder. She filled up her house so much that her husband bought her an old school bus to keep her "treasures" in. When that filled up she went back to packing it into the house. Last time I was down there, the husband had bought a double-wide trailer to put in the yard so they'd have somewhere to actually live since the bus and house were both overflowing with stuff. At that time, she'd already gotten a pretty good start on filling up the trailer too. What can I say? She was a total headcase.

Incubus
10-15-2003, 12:13 PM
This is an interesting phenomenon. What exactly causes people to be slobs? My friend's roomate is an interesting example of how it could be learned behavior like some have mentioned-

When my friend's roomate lived with her parents, she blamed their messy house on her parents. She asserted that she was a clean and organized person, but she lived in a filthy household. You would think that would mean that all of her possessions/room would be immaculate, but it was just as disheveled as the rest of the house. Suspicious...:dubious:

She moved in with a friend of hers, with the same result- messy apartment. She blamed it on her friend. When she moved in with my friend when he was living with his parents (who are packrats and have a cluttered house) messes were conveniently blamed on his parents. When the two of them got an apartment, though, the same thing happened- messiness. It is painfully obvious to me that her growing up in a messy environment has contributed to her own slobbiness, but she would never admit it. Since she always lived with other people, she never had a shortage of scapegoats.

mmmiiikkkeee
10-15-2003, 02:36 PM
I'm a little confused with how most people here seem to think that being messy is some kind of learned and/or wrong-way "defect" of the mind or personality like anorexia or hyper aggressivness. I'm pretty sure that being neat or geometrically organized (everything in it's place straight and even) with respect to one's personal surroundings is more unatural than being messy.

Lining up saucers in the cupboard, not letting anything that touched food go unsanitized (and dried and reorganized) for more than 15 minutes, and the daily removal of 10 micron layers of dust on objects nobody even looks at is what has to be learned - I doubt that would come naturally to very many people if they weren't taught how and why it should be done.

I'm pretty sure that most anyone who's been in the military got a rather rude awakening when some stranger barged into their room with a ruler to measure the folds in their sheets and looking for dust behind the toilet with a Q-tip. The army sure believes that people have to be taught how to be neat (though their motivation for doing so probably doesn't have much to do with cleanliness).

In college I had a little dorm room and kept it nice and clean/organized since I didn't have any extra stuff to cause clutter. Thought I was pretty cultured until I saw one of the female japanese exchange student's rooms. Absolutely immaculate and sterile. I swear she had like one sheet of paper and a pillow, yet she'd been there for years. My place was a pig stye in comparison. That kind of house keeping takes some training.

So, as a couple have pointed out, I think being a slob comes more from not being trained otherwise and acting natural. I really doubt there's some kind of personality disorder that causes a hairless ape which instinctivly scrubs flat surfaces with soapy water to crack and start leaving socks on the bedroom floor.

hapaXL
10-15-2003, 04:13 PM
Originally posted by hedra
5) Not wanting to have to be a grownup... there's one area of rebellion that can really stick in a bad way. Looks like laziness, but it is more a pity party or tantrum version of selfishness (with a dose of la-la-la I'm not listening whenever anyone suggests a change of habit).

Originally posted by hedra
I had multiple factors - I associated a clean room with invasion of my space (protected my space by keeping it too messy to invade . . . Plus one bit of whiny not wanting to have to be the grownup ALL the time (partly because I became a grownup way too early, I think).

I think we're on to something with these comments, hedra.

My friend is rather childish at 31 years old. I never thought of it as a form of rebellion, but my friend can be passive-aggressive at times. He knows we hate it, but he rarely seems ashamed.

Using it as a barrier to keep people out is an interesting idea. He's lived in his new apartment for a year and I've yet to see it. Does a slob need an intensely private space that only they can (stand to) inhabit or decipher in order to feel safe or protected? Is it like the ultimate definition of home - you're comfortable and nobody else wants to come near?

I was also thinking about the hoarding issue. He can't claim to be a child of the depression waiting to reuse things - he just can't let go of anything. (Made fun of him once when I found a 1998 calender lying around - in the year 2000! The epitome of obsolete and useless.) A fear of abandonment, perhaps? A fear of moving forward in life? The past never leaves - it's old magazines lying in a pile on the coffee table. Any of this sound plausible?

And mmmiiikkkeee, I didn't mean to imply that living that way is wrong, but it does differ from the societal norm. It's a choice that can be costly (ever try to bring a woman home to a house like that), so I think there must be strong reasons for choosing that lifestyle. We can talk about why anally clean people are insane in another thread!:)

Zsofia
10-15-2003, 06:07 PM
What exactly is so wrong with having some crap on the floor? There's a big difference between having rotting things in the kitchen and having a somewhat messy (in a non-contagious way) house, and I admit I'm a little insulted that you all think there must be something wrong with me and my upbringing because there's some clothes on my floor and I never make my bed. I have a lot of clutter. I don't mop a lot. I have better things to do with my time, and it does not bother me to see a few pairs of dirty underwear here and there. I think you neurotic cleaners have issues, not the other way around.

Zsofia
10-15-2003, 06:12 PM
What exactly is so wrong with having some crap on the floor? There's a big difference between having rotting things in the kitchen and having a somewhat messy (in a non-contagious way) house, and I admit I'm a little insulted that you all think there must be something wrong with me and my upbringing because there's some clothes on my floor and I never make my bed. I have a lot of clutter. I don't mop a lot. I have better things to do with my time, and it does not bother me to see a few pairs of dirty underwear here and there. I think you neurotic cleaners have issues, not the other way around.

And mmmiiikkkeee, I didn't mean to imply that living that way is wrong, but it does differ from the societal norm.
Societal norm? Really? In what sense? What exactly is the "societal norm"? 50's housewives? Frat boys? How many people in America are really how clean?

hapaXL
10-15-2003, 06:42 PM
Originally posted by Zsofia
Societal norm? Really? In what sense?
As in, most people like to have their close friends (in this case 20+ years) enter their homes once in a while.

Are you capable of washing your dishes in under 2 days time? Does your apartment stink up the entire hallway with the door closed? Do you have a huge walk-in closet (6' X 6' at least) that is impassible and piled 5 feet high with shit? Probably not. I'm not talking about messy here - I'm talking complete and utter slob. If you're doing something that disgusts the vast majority of people, that's outside the norm, right?

even sven
10-15-2003, 07:38 PM
I'm a neatnik who grew up in a very messy household (which is now a neat one)

Why? I'm not sure.

Part of having a messy household was that, as a single mother, my mom just didn't have time to maintain a neat house. A simple thing like laundry can take all day when you don't have your own washing machine and have a kid to deal with. And a house with kids gets a lot messier than one without. Once a mess starts, it is a lot easier just not to bother with any subsequent messes than to clean them all up. Especially when you reach the point that cleaning up a mess means making an even bigger mess temporarily. Eventually you just get used to "mess" being the default. And yeah, it does feel a bit homey. It was always nice the once or twice a year our house was clean enough to have people over in. But at some point the daily dicipline it takes to keep a house clean slides and it all goes to hell.

When we moved, we got rid of a lot of stuff, bought furniture we could be proud of, and had a house large enough to entertain in. Oddly, the new house never gets all that messy. One thing is that it is larger, so it takes a lot longer to get messy and the messes "stick out" more. And having a dishwasher and washing machine does make a huge difference. But really it was just a radical change in habits. I can't really explain what prompted it.

Now, in my own house, I have pretty impecable cleaning habits.

SherBear
12-21-2010, 03:00 PM
It's called Attention Deficit Disorder. One of the main symptoms is being messy and disorganized. I recently got diagnosed and this was a major symptom I have struggled with for many years. I am 40 years old and just now figuring it out. Thankfully I am now medicated and my house is getting in order one day at a time. I am so thankful I have finally gotten help.

Rachellelogram
12-21-2010, 04:18 PM
Pure procrastination in my case. If left to my own devices, trash will pile up in my room. Not because I'm fond of it or want to keep it, but because it's not as fun as playing World of Warcraft.

BigT
12-21-2010, 07:48 PM
My problem is just too much stuff. Stuff that I didn't acquire, nor did I plan on keeping. Maybe at one time I wanted to keep my old toys as childhood memories, and I do use old computers for parts, but that's it.

I do have a problem with just throwing something away, though. It seems to me that, if something is usable, I should at the very least donate it, and that's assuming I can't get money out of it. And because that takes more effort than just throwing something out, I wind up procrastinating.

That doesn't mean I don't throw away trash--I'm just talking about perfectly serviceable items I no longer use.

Then again, if you go by familial ties, I have two competing systems--dad's side kept everything, while mom's side was obsessively neat.

LouisB
12-21-2010, 07:51 PM
I was almost compulsive about cleaning when I began living alone five or six months ago. I think I wanted to prove I could do it. Lately I have been sort of slacking off. I do the dishes daily and the laundry weekly; dusting and cleaning floors happen when I notice they need it. But I have to say that I have noticed my sloppiness factor increases with increasing depression. If I fight against being depressed, my cleanliness factor kicks into overdrive. I'm trying to find a middle level.

Kevbo
12-21-2010, 08:48 PM
Take a kid four or five years old. Tell them to clean their room. Don't show them how, don't help, don't make any suggestions.

Then when they fail, yell at them until they cry. Tell them how worthless they are. An hour later when they have stopped crying and the room still isn't clean, spank them.

Then clean the room when they are at school, and yell at them when they get home for not doing themselves. Then yell at them some more as soon as they leave anything out of place. Which they will, because they don't know where you put anything. Be sure to keep mentioning how worthless they are.

This is how you end up with an adult that has full blown panic attacks when faced with cleaning.

causticsubstance
12-21-2010, 09:27 PM
I'm a messy person. I don't like having food sitting around and you won't find much of it, if any, in my room. I don't have garbage sitting around, either, like used Kleenex or anything sticky etc. Everything else, though, is fair game. Bottlecaps, papers, receipts are on my desk and floor. Clothes and shoes are everywhere. Pens and makeup are strewn over my desk.

I have self-analyzed my messiness and I for me it's like I just don't register it until someone points it out to me, or I point it out to myself. I can look at my desk and floor and ask myself "is this mess?" and my answer will be yes. But as I'm going about my daily business, I don't notice it at all and it doesn't bother me. Then, as I'm cleaning, I'll try to put something away and realize that I don't know where I should put any of my stuff, so I kind of just saunter off. I have come to suspect that some people view every object as having a place where it belongs. I have made no such mental assignments.

Cleaning, for me, requires a lot of concentration. I'm always reminding myself "this can go on the shelf" or "this needs to be thrown away". I can't clean while thinking about other things. It's just goes against the way my mind naturally works. And in regards to the OP, funnily enough, I have even sat through classes on learning disorders in college, and as the prof explained dyslexic people and their struggles with reading, thought to myself "that is pretty much how I feel about cleaning."

Markxxx
12-21-2010, 10:29 PM
I find my place is not as clean as I'd like it but then again, I never have visitors and I'm not lazy, I'm just doing something else.

I dust and I don't leave food around to attract bugs, but I will throw a magazine on the floor and not pick it up till Saturday, when I go through the living room and swoop clean up.

My flat looks cluttered because, it is and it's very small. If I had regular company or lived with someone I'd be a lot neater. My work place has always been organized and neat, but I don't see the point to it at home.

So I think there are various kinds of sloppiness

Rachellelogram
12-21-2010, 10:52 PM
Cleaning, for me, requires a lot of concentration. I'm always reminding myself "this can go on the shelf" or "this needs to be thrown away". I can't clean while thinking about other things. It's just goes against the way my mind naturally works. And in regards to the OP, funnily enough, I have even sat through classes on learning disorders in college, and as the prof explained dyslexic people and their struggles with reading, thought to myself "that is pretty much how I feel about cleaning."
I find the idea of a cleaning disorder very interesting and would subscribe to your newsletter. My current roommate gets mad at me (and my mom got mad at me prior to that) because I don't tend to register clutter as problematic. To me it seems more like they are being overly-anal, of course.

Especially my roommate who will do "tests" on me and our other roommate and then get all pissy when we "fail," instead of just fucking coming out and asking us to do something that's bothering her (her passive-aggressivity is a tangential topic). Her latest test was to hand wash the dishes she used for a week and see how long it would take someone else to run the dishwasher, instead of asking one of us to run the dishwasher.

Well, I don't use the dishwasher. EVER! In fact I hadn't even dirtied a single dish in the past week (I ate out, used plasticware, or had frozen dinners which don't require dishware). So after "we" "failed the test" she blew up in a very, very long email to me. And I had to clarify that it was our other roommate's fault. I'd like to cause her some moderate, very localized brain damage (a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) so she stops perpetuating this bullshit but whatcanyado?

I swear to frog, I have never in my life started drama over cleaning. But it seems to haunt me regardless. It, like religion and politics, is just not an activity that interests me. I mean, pick your battles! What a waste of time. As someone else stated, nobody thinks on their deathbed "Boy I wish I had been a neater person."

Keith Berry
12-21-2010, 10:59 PM
I once had a online-hookup with a lady for some sex, and she insisted on hosting. Bad mistake. Her place was so filthy that I nearly gagged when I entered.

LouisB
12-22-2010, 04:04 AM
I once had a online-hookup with a lady for some sex, and she insisted on hosting. Bad mistake. Her place was so filthy that I nearly gagged when I entered.Happened to me way before the internet on a blind date. Toilet hadn't been flushed in forever or so it looked------feces by the pound. I left immediately and never went back.

Oglomott
12-22-2010, 05:18 AM
In some cases it's probably a learned thing. My FIL is both a hoarder and a slob. His parents were the same way.

He lives in an apartment, which smells because he never "gets around" to taking the garbage out. He reuses napkins over and over. He uses his dishes, glasses, and utensils over and over before washing them. He doesn't get a bath because he "doesn't do anything to get dirty". Doesn't shave because he "doesn't have to". The big thing is saving old newspapers, piles and piles of them, because there was always some "interesting article" he wanted to keep.

He wasn't like this when he was still married to my MIL, because she did all the cleaning for him. This is a guy who used to be meticulously groomed and wore suits to work every day.

Edward The Head
12-22-2010, 06:13 AM
I believe in a lot of cases it's because they've misplaced their brains.

Actually for me, though I'm not that bad, I tend to keep everything in one place and try and go through it, then just don't. I also don't need my table since I live alone. I have been getting better as I've been donating and throwing out a lot of stuff. However, my place is mostly clutter and not messy, my dishes are washed and my floors mostly clean.

Zsofia
12-22-2010, 08:45 AM
You guys know this is a zombie thread, right? I wouldn't care, except that I was reading, reading... hey, when did I respond to this? Whoa, I was touchy at 23!

robcaro
12-25-2010, 01:39 PM
This is why I have chosen to live in Colombia. Here, we can have a maid quite cheap and not have to worry about cleaning up the mess. The apartment is always inspection clean. We couldn't do this at home :D

panache45
12-25-2010, 03:43 PM
I once had an aquaintance in Manhattan. I don't know how many rooms were in his apartment, because I never saw more than 3 feet in front of me. Picture this: a room that is solidly filled with stacks of refuse, wall to wall, floor to ceiling, with a 2-foot wide "canyon" allowing you to get through to the next room. If there were no next room, the refuse would literally fill the entire 3D space. Stacks of old newspapers and magazines, stacks of crates of cans and bottles, all from floor to ceiling, wall to wall, obliterating windows and unused doorways. One question I cannot answer is why his floors didn't collapse into the apartment below.

My house tends to get cluttered, because I have so many interests and hobbies in addition to my work. The main problem is finding a proper place for everything and keeping it there. I do eventually get around to putting things away, one small area at a time. And yes, I do suffer from chronic depression with mild OCD, though I'm reluctant to use that as an excuse. (And don't make the mistake of thinking that only the Felix Ungers of the world have OCD; the Oscar Madisons have it too.)

My partner is the opposite. Few of his interests or hobbies take up much space, and he can't understand why I don't always tidy up after a given activity. When we were living together it was a constant strain for both of us (he kept putting my stuff away, and I couldn't fine anything). Our solution is to live next door to each other.

dotchan
12-25-2010, 07:53 PM
Echoing what everybody said already, but in my own words:

1) Laziness. It takes more short-term effort to be organized than to just leave things where they are.

2) Higher mess tolerance. For some people, that "I need to clean" moment usually comes when they can't find something they really need, or if guests are coming over. For others, their house has to look like it was decorated by Martha Stewart at all times.

3) That good old "hierarchy of needs" thing. People who are clinically depressed even start neglecting their personal grooming habits. If I don't even feel like shaving every day, then picking up dirty socks isn't going to be on my priorities list either.

In college, during a high-stress period, there were times when there would not be one bit of exposed carpet except one very carefully laid out footpath between the bed and the door. Everything else was covered with clothes that didn't need to go into the laundry just yet, but we didn't want to put in with the clean stuff. (As far as I remember, we were fairly good about the trash, though.) In my defense, that dorm room was tiny and we didn't get visitors pretty much except when our parents came by to help us move out at the end of each semester (and of course by then everything was Neat Und Tidy).

Right now I'm content with a system of "organized chaos". There is a general area of where I put stuff, but it's a bit haphazard and every so often I do have to wade into the mess to throw away stuff that's no longer relevant.

adhay
12-25-2010, 10:13 PM
My friend is complete slob - piles of sweaty clothes in the living room, moldy dishes, stacks and stacks of papers all over the house - and I've begun to wonder why?

I've heard of depressed people lacking the energy to clean, but this isn't the case for my friend - he's very active. Why do people choose to live in filth? Any amateur psychologists out there?I assume your friend isn't living with you:)

Have you spoken to your friend about your concerns? Does he agree with your assessment that he is living in "filth"?

EvilTOJ
12-26-2010, 02:59 AM
adhay, you do realize your quoted post is 7 years old, right?

adhay
12-26-2010, 06:01 AM
adhay, you do realize your quoted post is 7 years old, right?Well, actually ....

Wesley Clark
12-26-2010, 11:31 AM
I have a nice bed. I don't believe in making the bed though. My wife is always like, "why don't you ever make the bed"? For the same reason I don't tie my shoes after I take them off. It doesn't make sense. -Jim Gaffigan

For me, as long as I can find what I want and I'm not noticing bad smells or unable to find what I want it isn't that high of a priority to clean. I have shit everywhere, but it really isn't unhygenic or a bacteria trap or anything. My depression probably plays a role though. But I do manage to go to work, however 20 minutes to clean up is something that I really don't feel motivated to do.

Not only that but to me, for some reason, a room that it too clean and organized feels artificial. Almost like a hotel room or a place I am just visiting or showing off rather than living in. That probably plays a role too.

Horatio Hellpop
12-27-2010, 01:54 AM
My mom was kind of a neat freak, and the rest of us rebelled by being slobs. I have a brother and a sister with two kids each, all slobs. I'll go with laziness.

Der Trihs
12-27-2010, 05:26 AM
I'm another person who fines severe neatness sterile and creepy. I also think that many people are lumping together sloppiness, slovenliness, and outright pathological behavior.

My reasons towards tending towards messiness:

#1: I really don't care about neatness. Sanitation and safety yes; I don't let things rot or rust, or leave them where they'll trip me. But a little dust, some clothes tossed on the table, an unmade bed, a corner spiderweb, a random pile of books here and there? Meh.

#2: I gain no satisfaction from cleaning. I feel no sense of accomplishment, at most I'm glad its over with.

#3: Laziness. It's hard to work up the willingness to make the effort when you fact in #1 and #2.

#4: Organization. My natural tendency is towards following the 90/10 rule form of organization (as opposed to the alphabetical order, a place for everything and everything in its place kind of organization). Stuff I use often I leave out, stuff I seldom use gets tucked in a drawer somewhere. This naturally tends to imitate and sometimes slides right into sloppiness.

One interesting theory I've heard for the traditional "everything sterile and shiny" standard of neatness. Several things came together at one point in history; the near universal implementation of electric lights (makes dirt and disorder easier to see), a push to insist that women stay at home keeping house, the spread of labor saving devices that helped ensure that those housekeeping women were soon done with the task and utterly bored, and natural feminine competitiveness among women who had little to compete over besides how they kept their house. You had all these women desperate for something, anything to do to occupy themselves creating an ever-higher standard of housekeeping to show off to each other because it was better than staring at the walls or at the TV. A hundred years ago that light layer of dust that bothers you wouldn't even be visible in candlelight or indirect sunlight, and you'd be too busy doing other things to dust it even if you noticed.

don't ask
12-27-2010, 05:40 AM
.... no one on their death bed ever said "Damn, I wish I had spent more time cleaning."......

Unless, of course, they are dying from an infection caused by their failure to follow normal cleanliness standards.

Nava
12-27-2010, 07:58 AM
I think people are confusing slobs with hoarders. Slobs leave dirty dishes laying about, step over piles of laundry rather than pick them up, clean their toilets once a decade or so, etc. I think this tends to be more likely just a personality trait than a mental illness.

My experience with several roomies, dorm-mates et al has been in terms of "most of them simply never learned to clean". At home, dishes cleaned themselves, beds made themselves, toilet paper rolls refilled themselves, empty toilet paper cylinders took themselves to the trash; therefore, when they're someplace else, they expect all that to still happen magically. And, since the accumulation is gradual, they go through a "frog in hot water" kind of situation.

Then in sweeps someone else, and the bathroom rug turns out to have a hundred bright colors rather than varying shades of dark grey, the kitchen clothes turn out to be white rather than varying shades of yellow, the caulk in the bathroom has suddenly become white, the bathroom curtains have lost the foot-wide black strip at the bottom. And those people who hadn't seen the filth because it had grown slowly and because they weren't used to the habits that keep it from growing are suddenly asking "how did you do it?"

A lot of those habits aren't even a matter of "applying elbow grease often enough", more of "doing things in such a manner that elbow grease is not needed" - but it's not something that will be learned from the Holy Ghost.

StusBlues
12-27-2010, 09:00 AM
I'm quite a terminal slacker in this regard, as is my girlfriend, so you can imagine what our place looks like;) We do pride ourselves on being able to get everything presentable with an hour's notice, though, so we're not candidates for Hoarders just yet.

One thing not mentioned above is the propensity for stuff to get lost or tossed in a big cleanup. I know people will counter that this wouldn't be a problem if I just put stuff away in the first place, but there's a certain comfort in imagining that what you need often is probably just sitting in plain sight. I do find things when I clean, but things get misplaced as well.

wbeaty
12-28-2010, 03:55 AM
Excellent thread! Alive forever-er-er.

I had a twisted insight: some male messiness is equivalent to a peacock's tail or a Bower bird's shiny objects. Other facets are cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking, and repairing things around the house. It's a 50s-era subconscious sexual display crafted to attract a certain type of stereotyped mate: "Oh, he needs someone like me to take care of him." If dad was a slob and mom did all the cleaning, then sons and daughters unwittingly set up displays to carry on the next generation of family roles.

septimus
12-30-2010, 02:46 AM
septimus leaves piles of books, papers, etc. lying around. Mrs. septimus is not happy about this, but has learned that if she organizes the books and papers into nice piles, I'll never be able to find anything! Yet my work required strong disciplined organization skills. (What needed organization were ideas in my head.)

Am I lazy? That's certainly part of it. Yet I would do "all-nighters" at afore-mentioned work, with no overtime compensation or even deadline involved, just for the enjoyment of the work.