3 February 2014

Less is more

Recently, I came across a term in the context of OCD that was new to me: obsessive-compulsive spartanism. 

Spartanism is, essentially, the opposite of hoarding: people exhibiting this behaviour can't tolerate any kind of clutter. They seek to live with the fewest belongings possible, often choosing to keep items only in specific quantities and/or if they fall into a particular category. As a result, they're driven to have ruthless clear-outs, even getting rid of things they still need.

And, in spite of reducing their possessions to the absolute minimum, they may still find their environment unbearable.

Although the article I read defined spartanism as a form of OCD, my subsequent research revealed that this does not yet appear to have been classified as a psychiatric disorder, let alone one relating to this condition.

However, this research did confirm my initial suspicions that I'm prone to spartanism, and that it ties in closely with my ordering compulsions. 

Image courtesy of sattva/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Often, I look around my flat and wish I had less stuff, although I know I have very little compared with most people: I hate clothes' shopping, don't buy the latest gadgets and don't even retain books once I've read them.

The feeling of discomfort at having too many things around me can be overwhelming. Sorting and rearranging helps a little, and getting rid of just one or two things can also temporarily alleviate the feeling.  

I can see how this could get out of hand, though. Throwing away out-of-date food products has, in the past, escalated unintentionally to the disposal of multiple other items around my flat. On occasion, I've even toyed with the idea of getting rid of my photos and boxes of things I've kept for sentimental reasons - I only managed to hold back, because I knew I'd regret it later. 

Being an anxious person, prone to imagining all kinds of catastrophes, I’ve often imagined how I would cope if I lost everything I owned, for example, in a fire. I know it would be traumatic; probably the equivalent of a bereavement, necessitating the same grieving process. Yet, part of me whispers, ‘Think how liberating it would be to start over with nothing.’

Of course, I don't want to put this to the test, but the idea of a clean slate - at least in terms of material things - is appealing. My instinct is that I would accumulate much less second time around. 

Spartanism is characterised by organising, counting, arranging, rearranging and purging. There is a clear fit, therefore, with my need for order, and a mirroring of my desire for control.

I'm glad to have read about this and to have recognised my own latent spartan tendencies. Under the wrong circumstances, these could easily develop into a real problem. Forewarned is forearmed.

59 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. It's made me feel a little less wobbly. I get a physical sensation as though I'm being crushed, when I have too many things around me (people too), yet I still don't manage to tidy up enough. Keep posting. Your blog is brilliant.

ocdtalk said...

Very interesting post, as I have never heard of spartanism. I definitely tend that way. I hate clutter, any unnecessary belongings (I rarely wear any jewelry,and shopping of any kind. I have always called myself a minimalist. I'm lucky it doesn't affect my life negatively but I certainly see how it could if taken too far. Thanks for this info!

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

This is very interesting! I had not heard of spartanism. I tend more towards having too much stuff, but sometimes I get to a place where I just start throwing things away. I've even left stuff behind when I've moved--on purpose. I've lost some good things that way. This post has me thinking. Thank you for sharing what you learned!

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous, I'm so pleased that this post was of help to you - and thank you for the lovely feedback.

Helen Barbour said...

ocdtalk, I'm glad you found this post interesting. I'm also very minimalist in my 'style' (if you can even call it that!), wearing hardly any jewellery and preferring block colours to patterns...although I am starting to get a little more adventurous in that respect, as I've recently discovered that some patterns do actually suit me, after randomly deciding to try on a flowery top one day.

Helen Barbour said...

Tina, thanks for your comment and kind feedback. I've also thought how nice it would be just to leave stuff behind when I eventually move out of London. I shall, however, take heed of your experience and make sure I don't lose things I treasure, too!

Anonymous said...

My mother was a compulsive discarder, I believe she also had frontal lobe damage from a fall out a window as a child (her family said she was never the same after but did not have the medical resources they do today to discover it 1928). She had extreme anger and lack of impulse control, would say rude and inappropriate things to everyone. She medicated her anxiety issues with alcohol, promiscuous sex and multiple marriages (5). She constantly moved every six to 9 months using that as her excuse to throw everything out and start over. But even when she wasn't moving she constantly threw things away (including people could not bond with anyone, had no friends, and she permanently alienated all her kids). She could never sit still, always jangling keys or tapping foot or some nervous habit; could not look at people when they were talking to her and would not listen to others.

She would constantly buy clothes, wear them once or twice and toss them in the trash, not even donate to charities. Very expensive clothes, shoes, etc. She even threw out my shoes and clothes and would lie about it when confronted. I would give her furniture and tell her to give it back to me if she decided she didn't want it, and she would still get rid of it for no good reason and not allow me to take back. We have few photos from our childhood because those were tossed as well!

She was traumatized by the sudden death of her mother when she was 7 years old and her father had told her mother had gone away on a trip, so she waited over a year for her mother to return. Her sister said that she misunderstood her father, but it was after that she "fell" out of a two story window.

I believe she had anxiety and brain damage that was never discovered or addressed because of the time she lived and her anger and hostility when anyone would confront her about her behaviors.

Anonymous said...

I believe there are probably a lot of perfectionists and compulsive discarders in the counseling profession. Because the OCD discarder is a perfectionists and a controlling personality to aleviate their anxiety. It's always easier to control and fix others than to look inward and fix yourself.

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous, I am so sorry to hear about your mother's experiences and the impact on you. While there is still some way to go in recognising and treating mental health disorders, and in eradicating the associated stigma, the situation has certainly improved since her time. Re your comment about counsellors, undoubtedly many are dealing with their own issues...we all have them!

mmspeedy09 said...

My husband and I both have these tendencies. The last time we moved we threw out at LEAST half of all our stuff, including furniture. And just today I did another clear-out and eliminated 1/3 of all the crap. I find that its just too much for me to keep up with and take care of. Less is truly more.

Helen Barbour said...

mmspeedy09, it is probably just as well that you and your husband share a preference for minimalism, otherwise sharing a home might be rather difficult...though with two of you throwing stuff out, you might have to be careful you don't end up nothing at all!

Anonymous said...

my adult daughter threw out every vcr tape of her children birth to age 15,.

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous, wow, that must have taken some doing by your daughter - I'd be interested to know if she ever regretted it?

Anonymous said...

My mother was this way and I'm even worse. I always wondered what the opposite of a hoarder is because I figured that would be me. My husband is a bit of a hoarder and you would think we balance each other out. in reality we just argue about it. I get anxiety from clutter and obsess about getting rid of it until I do. He wants to keep everything because he might need it. He even has a hard time getting rid of receipts for unimportant things. We have several donation trucks that will pick items up from your house and I find that because it's so easy I tend to purge a lot more. Even stuff I should keep. I have often considered tossing out sentimental things like photos and keepsakes. No matter what I do I always feel like we have way too much stuff and I never feel satisfied with what I've gotten rid of.

Anonymous said...

This type of behaviour started with me as a child. I was beaten up as a child and afterwards I would put everything I could find in my room into a bag and throw it away. Even items I really valued and liked. I started doing this again about a year ago when I got into a relationship where I was emotionally drained and made to feel worthless. I sold everything on Ebay and gave so much to charity, I would always be thinking 'what can I get rid of next?'. I dread getting new things/clutter. I think maybe it's a control thing. When I have no control of how I feel, such as feeling hurt, I take control by removing things. It's comforting to know that others do similar things.

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous (14 November), I can well imagine how your different approaches must cause enormous tension between you and your husband. I find it endlessly fascinating that mental health problems can manifest in different ways and yet, so often, have the same underlying driver, ie trying to achieve control.

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous (23 November), as mentioned above, it seems to me that many, many mental health conditions are rooted in a need for control. I hope you have managed to find help in dealing with your childhood abuse? - and that you have managed to move on from that recent, unhealthy relationship.

Sally Wilkin said...

I am a "Spartan" also. I get rid of stuff so often that I am to the point of not having many possessions at all. I am often de-cluttering more than just physical possessions. I have routines of deleting all of my emails, documents, photos, social media accounts, text messages, recent phone calls, browsing history, etc. I am told that I have this sort of behavior from not only being OCD but also having OCPD (obsessive compulsive personality disorder) which makes it so I am not necessarily ashamed or distressed that I am such a "neat-freak" and a "purger," but it seems like everyone else is crazy for NOT being more like me and having so much "junk" as it seems to me. I am only 19 and I recall instances of doing these "get-rid-of-everything-to-make-me-feel-better" sessions since I was 8 years old. Maybe even younger! I'm glad to see that I am not the only one with these compulsions, though. I enjoyed your blog post a lot!

Helen Barbour said...

Sally, thank you for your lovely feedback and also for describing your own experiences. I can certainly relate to the other kinds of behaviours you talk about! For example, I have masses of programmes stored on my hard disk recorder, which feel like an enormous pressure and burden - I'm often tempted to do a mass delete, as I know I'll never get through them all... I have also written a post about OCPD, which you may have seen on my blog?

Juliet Milner said...

Hello Helen
Thank you for starting this blog - it's really interesting to read
everyone's contributions. I have been de-cluttering my life of so many possessions lately. Clearing the physical space has created some much needed metal space and clarity - finally I feel I can breathe easier :)
For me personally, it all started because of three things:
a) I wanted to move on from recent traumatic events in life
b) I didn't feel that I needed the possessions to be happy
c) the idea of a simpler life was so attractive and liberating
For those people who experience spartinism in a less severe way (ie, not compulsively), less is certainly more, and I have just read another blog (I guess there are plenty out there) that put a positive spin on minimalism.
http://www.becomingminimalist.com/7-common-problems-solved-by-owning-less/
All the best
Juliet

Helen Barbour said...

Hi Juliet, thanks for your comments and for the link to the Becoming Minimalist blog site. I can absolutely see the benefits of having less. It's also been a surprise to me how popular this particular post has been - it seems a lot of people are seeking to declutter their lives.

Laurab1968 said...

Ok this sounds a lot like me. To say I hate clutter would be an understatement lol. It literally feels like gears grinding in my head if you know what I mean. Crumbs on the counter drives me up the wall. My bed sheets have to be straightened before I get into bed or they feel crooked if that makes any sense lol. I have to do things in order. Too many piles on my desk and I get overwhelmed. Less is more in my house lol. My daughter says I have ocd lol.

laurab68 said...

I forgot to mention that I also I also have control issues which I openly admit too. If someone starts something that I have to do and leaves me the rest at work it throws me out of whack.
Ok maybe I do have it too lmao.

Helen Barbour said...

Laurab, thank you for sharing your experiences. Your self-awareness is an important element, as it will enable you to monitor if this begins to detrimentally affect you or your family. I can certainly understand the work-related control issues!

Anonymous said...

Hi my Husband lives with this and recently gave away the last few sentimental items I had left. I don't know how to move forward since it's not replaceable. I understand his mind and empathize with him, however, it feels like basic trust is gone.

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous, I am so sorry to hear what has happened - that must be incredibly upsetting for you. Is your husband aware that he has a problem? Has he sought treatment? Wishing you both all the best in dealing with this difficult situation.

Aakash said...

Thank God,

I'm not the only one. I'm really a minimalist + utilitarian to the core..although i don't think it's OCD but i really don't like to accumulate stuff. Besides, getting rid of something really lifts the mood for me.

Further, i don't know how connected it's but clutter makes me uncomfortable, i have a tendency to start cleaning up and organizing whenever i get a free moment.

Helen Barbour said...

Aakash, it seems a lot of us find clutter uncomfortable - and I really do think it's a reaction to the increasing materialism of most first-world countries.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I find that I not only relate but have the same issues keeping anything that I've written, whether on paper or screen. I already feel a desire to delete this but I'm much more interested in knowing if others experience the same thing. Does it have a name? Any thoughts/insights appreciated.

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous, thank you for your feedback. Some of the earlier comments made reference to feeling the urge to get rid of more than just physical belongings, eg texts and emails, so it seems that you're not alone. I'm afraid I'm not aware of a specific name to cover those areas of 'spartanism', though.

Anonymous said...

The pre-recession culture was all about more and bigger--more clothes, more detail on clothes, more appliances, bigger cars, bigger breasts...I think this is a minimalist backslash like we saw after the bling and scream of the late 80's.
Many of us are now forced into smaller spaces--my apartment is a tiny 683 square feet, and the little amount of furniture i have is claustrophobic.
No wonder people want ot be free of all this crap.

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous, I couldn't agree more!

Anonymous said...

I change everything constantly. Move furniture and rearrange weekly. When cleaning I like to move everything and clean under beds and sofas... I hate when my family members give me something because I might want to get rid of it and they become very upset. I don't like to have people over because they always make comments or make fun of me that my house is always different and rearranged. Maybe I think I will be happier if I have less stuff in my life/house. I know I was in an unhappy marriage and I thought to get out of it I would need to not have my belongings. It is not just wanting to minimize your lifestyle it is really a behavior that becomes overboard and embarrassing.

Helen Barbour said...

Thanks for your comment, Anonymous (24/11/15) - Christmas has been a particularly difficult time for me in the past, with people often giving me what I saw as just more clutter...until I got everyone to understand that if it wasn't genuinely useful (eg a replacement for something broken or worn out) or consumable, then I didn't really want it!

Anonymous said...

This article and the comments as well are very helpful to me. I have had this problem since I was a little kid. I used to look out the window as I drove in the car and wish I could make the whole world "even and clean".
Today this problem is really hurting my life. I have kids and and I'm pregnant again. I'm having feelings of wanting to "purge" this baby, and sometimes also want to just run from my family. I feel so alone, scared and sad that I'm causing this pain on myself and others. I think it's time to seek help. I don't know how to explain this problem to a health care provider. I have tried and it is embarrassing and difficult as they tend to be dismissive.
I just want to feel normal and live a life that is not so concerned with these issues.

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous (25 March 2016), thank you for your feedback and I'm glad to hear that this post and the comments have been of help. Do please keep trying to seek medical help - there are good healthcare professionals out there, but many may be unfamiliar with this condition. Are you based in the States? You might also find this article helpful - http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/ocd-obsessive-compulsive-decluttering-hoarding/401591/ Perhaps you could print out a copy to show your doctor? I hope everything goes smoothly with the remainder of your pregnancy and the delivery. All the best.

Jessica Rosy said...

I recently went to a Depression and Anxiety service because I have similar symptoms to the ones described above, but I don't feel that she can really understand what is wrong with me, and I find it hard to articulate. I think she even thought I might be on the bipolar spectrum, but has since taken this diagnosis away.

Ever since I have been unemployed I have found myself purging my posessions. It is not to the extreme that I would throw away my bed, but I will spend several minutes stood in front of my wardrobe looking at my clothes hanging up to find something that doesnt quite 'fit' the colour scheme or my 'style' to throw away. I could have just bought the item but if it doesn't fit my perception of perfect it has to go. I find I do this with clothing that I love that I haven't even worn a while.

I also have a constant need to upgrade my things. I will find the urge to buy something and have to purchase it as soon as possible, but I know it's not the ultimate version of what I want and know I will discard it until I get the right one. This applies to clothes and every day objects. The other day, I threw away my running jumper because it was a different brand to the rest of my running clothing and so didn't 'fit'. I then replaced the jumper with a different brand, but because it wasn't the same brand my other running clothing I then had to spend more money to replace some of my running tops, so there was an even mix of brands.

I will also have a preoccupation with organisation and have spent hours looking at different organisers online, or storage boxes so I can de clutter my surroundings and mind.



I have an obsessive need to write simple things like 'must get milk' down to get the thought out of my brain or I will ruminate over it. I like to get things that pop into my head done as quickly as possible or I will feel anxious.

There is another facet to this that I find even harder to explain...sometimes I will ruminate over my day and obsess over things like 'how many crispbreads I have eaten'. If I normally have 4 and that day I have had 3 I will feel as if I have ruined my structure or pattern and it distresses me, but there is nothing I can do about it as it is in the past. I have an 'all or nothing' mentality. Things either have to be perfectly structured or not at all, they can't be half and half. This happens with food and also with routines like running. I have to run on set days, and if something disrupts this (plans I cannot change) I have to find a way to alter this to get my run in or I wished I had not run at all that week as it all feels erased.

I don't know what's wrong with me but I will get huge headaches in the evening going over what feels like stuck records in my head and patterns. I just want it to go away. It doesn't seem to fit with the symptoms of OCD but I know it's some kind of perfectionism trait that applies only to things I perceive as needing to be 'ordered' etc.

If anyone gets the same kind of thing I would love to know.

Helen Barbour said...

Jessica, thank you for your very detailed comment.

I'm sorry to hear you're having these difficulties - unfortunately, I can relate to all too many of your experiences! Mental health professionals need to have specialist knowledge of conditions even to recognise them, let alone successfully treat them. I think spartanism is less well known than many others.

Re the issues you raise...

I'm currently looking at buying some storage boxes to sort out my photos, as they are in multiple different style/size albums and boxes, which is really getting on my nerves. I'm only just resisting the temptation to throw them all away...

I also like to get jobs done straightaway and I make lists all the time, as you say, to clear my head.

And I definitely have an 'all or nothing' mentality.

If it is any consolation, you are not alone, Jessica.

Wishing you all the best - and do feel free to email me at helenbarbourblog@gmail.com if you want to chat further.

rosehill cemetery said...

thank you for confessing your obsessive spartanism to the world! i see my need for minimalism as an aesthetic choice, and don't feel it's ever reached a level of mania that makes my sensitivity to my surroundings a neurosis. i like thinking i follow the architectural design principles of Mies Van Der Rohe--"less is more"...

nevertheless, i can still see subtle hints of preoccupation in my design aesthetics, my organizational ways, and even my professional project management sensibilities. i'm never happier than when i clear all the emails from my inbox, eliminate sent files and deleted files; i'm anxious when the bed goes unmade on weekends, because my partner is enjoying normal living; rather than participate in my dinner parties or other social gatherings, i'm most focused on clearing away the clutter everyone creates when mingling, eating and drinking; it gives me great pleasure to THROW things out; the sense of catharsis i receive from purging, eliminating, liquidating, lessening and editing seems normal to me!


Helen Barbour said...

rosehill cemetery, thank you for taking the time to post a comment. I can absolutely relate to your practice of clearing emails and getting rid of other people's clutter/rubbish as you go along!

Anonymous said...

I have so many of the same obsessive behaviors mentioned here. I am constantly decluttering, getting rid of stuff, deleting emails, cleaning out my sent and deleted files. I get pleasure in throwing things away but I also feel at other times that I want more and more stuff until I reach a saturation point and feel like I'm suffocating and start the process all over again of getting rid of things. I make piles for selling on eBay, donating and throwing away and once everything is gone, start buying stuff all over again and sometimes even the very same things I got rid of and then get rid of them a second time! My family tells me I'm not just OCD but CDO which is OCD in alphabetical order and I laugh out loud when they say this and cry on the inside.

Helen Barbour said...

Hi Anonymous, I'm sorry to hear that you have similar difficulties. It must make life very expensive, as well as being mentally exhausting, to be constantly veering from excess to minimalism.

Anonymous said...

Hi.My name is Michelle, I'm 22 and I live in Mexico. I just recently found out that I have OCD and I've always had this problem but didn't know it had a name! Brilliant post. Thank you! :)

Helen Barbour said...

Hi Michelle, thanks for your comment and I'm glad my blog has been of help to you. I do hope that you will be able to get some help, now that you know your condition has a name and that it is treatable. Wishing you all the best in tackling this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comment, Helen. My life is expensive and mentally exhausting. I have had this behavior since I was nine and now am in my 64th year. I wish I had some hope of changing or recovery from this viscous cycle.

Rebecca said...

Oh my gosh I am just now learning about this and it fits me so well. I have been gradually building to this the last 5 years or so. Even cutting friends and family out of my life. I feel a heavy weight with people and things around me. I ADORE my husband and children and like people in general and as strangers but I don't like to be close. I also have had this years-long purging of our belongings and now we are getting down to the bare bones and I still want to throw things out! I too have held onto the last few sentimental things from my deceased partents only because I really do want to keep them and treasure them as a connection but lately I am feeling that itch to throw them away and I'm scared I might. I get a high by decluttering. It's gone so beyong simply wanting things tidy. What's more is that my house, though clean still has plenty of every-day clutter. Because of four children this seems unavoidable but it actually makes me feel ill or drained. I too secretly wish for a fire to take away only my household items so long as my family wouldn't be hurt because then I wouldn't have to feel guiltly that those sentimental things were no longer in my life. I'm constantly anxious and antsy where I haven't been in the past. I'm worried that it's becoming a problem and that I will start getting rid of things we actually use and need. I'm so glad I found this page and see that others are going through this as well!

Helen Barbour said...

Rebecca, thank you for taking the time to comment on this post and I'm glad you found it, and others' comments, helpful. Wishing you all the best in dealing with this condition.

Anonymous said...

I am so surprised that my secret wish that everything, even this house, would go up in smoke, is not such a secret to many people!
I hate 'stuff'. Things that I 'need', I keep for years rather than having to shop for something new. I hate shopping. Going into malls and seeing the excess - stores and stores selling endless reams of stuff. It makes me anxious and upset.

My husband is quite the opposite, and our differences can cause a fair bit of stress between us. He doesn't seem to understand how stressful clutter makes me feel. and I am by no means a 'perfect' cleaner. I don't have the energy to be as diligent as I'd like to be. This causes me anxiety and frustration.

I used to have to commute a long way for work and rented a room in town during the week. I loved it! A tiny room with only what I needed for the time I was there.
I found a second hand cup, which served also as a bowl. One spoon, one fork and one knife. A small pot for cooking/boiling water etc.

I wish I could live that way all the time. My brother has the same thing, and pretty much can carry all he owns in a duffle bag. If I had remained unmarried and never had kids, I would be the same.

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous, it is so interesting to read your comments - thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. I think my leaning towards spartanism explains my love of those 'survival' type programmes, where people live with just the basics. I'm currently having a big sort out of photos from the last 25 years and it is such a temptation just to throw them all away! Indeed, you are not alone in feeling this way and I wonder if this condition will become more prevalent as life becomes more and more stressful, and our society more and more materialistic. It seems to me that spartanism is an almost natural reaction to this. Best of luck in dealing with this in your own life.

Anonymous said...

If you go to some countries where extreme orderliness and perfection is the norm, you will probably feel marvellously normal. I am thinking of Japan, Germany, and Switzerland. There's also a strong ascetic tradition in Asia, and there used to be in Europe and Russia, when monastic communities were numerous.

Even within the UK, there's culture difference: I grew up in the suburbs of a provincial city, where people's houses were pin neat. Then I moved to London, where even successful and high class people live in grubby overcrowded conditions. I remember being traumatised when every posh house I went to had a collection of dirty cooking oil bottles next to the stove!

PS I love my scanner and my remote back up service.

Helen Barbour said...

Anonymous, thanks for your comments. I agree re the cultural differences - I had a Japanese friend some years back and her flat was always immaculate and very sparsely furnished!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to have found this blog. My need to de clutter is growing with each year. At this time, I am considering ending my common law relationship because my boyfriend is such the opposite of me. Every closet, cupboard and drawer in our home is stuffed. I moved in two years ago and did a major declutter but it hasn't seemed to make a dent in the stuff around here. I don't wear jewellery, don't save anything 'sentemental', and I'm even bothered that my partner brings fresh flowers home weekly. I then have to look at the flowers on a daily basis and think they are clutter. I wake each day to an overwhelming feeling of being lost in such a mess. People come to the house and see a neat, clean home. I don't want to face each day due to the stuff in the closets, garages, storage areas, etc.
How does one cope??
In my 52 years, I have moved approximately 60 times. The longest I ever lived in one home was 5 years. When I think of making a move at this time, I want to leave with one suitcase of clothes and maybe two boxes of irreplaceable stuff.(photos etc)
I want to start from scratch. new dishes, linens, furniture. I hate stuff. I would rather buy a beach towel every summer than store the one from last year. I do think this is ridiculous but don't know how to manage it. So glad to have found this blog

Helen Barbour said...

Hi Anonymous, I am glad you found this post useful. I completely understand everything you describe. I could never live with my boyfriend, as he is also the opposite to me - he has loads of stuff and every corner of his flat is filled! I am also finding it hard to see all the clutter in my elderly parents' home. I know that one day my sister and I will have to clear it out and I wish we could make a start now, but we are so busy dealing with their more urgent care and support needs, that we don't have time. Best of luck in coping with this condition and I do hope that it doesn't mean the end of your relationship.

Unknown said...

Finding this article and blog has been fantastic. Forever I have felt I'm the only one. I live on my own after marriage break up, and I love the fact my home is completely at my control. I've lost count of how many times I've rearranged furniture and changed stuff, I've got rid if stuff in the past I know I will regret, but can't stop myself. When people visit their first words are, 'you've had a move around again!) I have to have everything matching, it get ridiculous, I buy things knowing that in 6 months time I'll dump it. This year I am trying to really make myself think before I purchase anything, it has caused me money problems in the past. I love my flat but know at least once a month I have to go through top to bottom and have a clear out, charity shops do a roaring trade from me! It's hard to explain to anyone that isn't like it. Thank you for this blog x

Helen Barbour said...

'Unknown', thanks for taking the time to comment on this post and to share your own experiences. It sounds as if this has become an expensive problem for you! However, I'm pleased that you have found this item useful.

Colly Wobbles said...

Hello, I'm a Film and Television Production Student at Humber college. I was intrigued by this blogposting, but even more so, by the comments that followed. As a minimalist who has experienced similar obsessive tendencies in the past, I am looking to explore this topic more in a documentary. I am currently writing the proposal for the project, and would greatly appreciated any further insights or perspectives on Spartanism and how it affects daily life. Thank you.


- Ryan

Helen Barbour said...

Hi Ryan, thank you for your interest in my blog and this post in particular. I have been amazed at the number of responses to it - so many people seem to experience this difficulty. To be honest, this is only a mild tendency in me, so doesn't have a major impact on my life. I would, however, be very interested to see your final documentary, if it becomes available to the public. Best of luck with it!

Anonymous said...

At some point of my life I really thought I was insane

My mum loves hoardering , and always saves for the future and what could/couldn't happen , my sisters too , I grew up in a heavily cluttered house , I was always the one who cleans and throws whatever expires until I was too exhausted physically and emotionally , I thought I had it as a rebound or something , I am an unhealthy minimalist , I love having less , but I reached the point I hated myself , I can't have anything I don't use , I threw away gifts , now I am more into selling my things away , it feels great for seconds or some time , I am really exhausted by constantly checking what else to get rid of , and if I have something I consider as cultter to sell , my parents think I'm a crazy seller ,
It is really uncomfortable , being a girl , not having makeup , accessories , what other girls consider a necessity , at first I thought throwing these things away is a "sane thing" but after a long period , o asked myself , why am I not normal?! Or at least a healthy minimalist ,

I do relate a lot to even not having things online , deleted my accounts several times , now instead of buying and throwing away until I need it again motto , I became a really careful buyer , to the point I don't buy things at all , seldom ,
The problem extended to my diet too , I had anorexia and bulimia , although throwing up after having a really big meal felt like decluttering, I became tired of it


I love having less , I know what is like to hoarder , and I can't stand it , but I reaches a point that is really drivinig me insane , now I tend to focus more on my studies (I try to change my focus into finishing my tasks ) and actually transform that obsession from external (things) to internal ( thoughts and tasks) , to become more productive and actually focus and finish and declutter that from my to do list , I'm still working on that (I had many fails ) but if I could actually make a good thing from that hell , i would be proud

If u have any thoughts/solutions , please do tell , yeah I felt regret about some of the things I threw as I needed them later , that made me even beg to have again , and next second I throw them again , I prefer to buy new things when needed than keeping them for times sake and I am very tidy to the point I make a mess to tidy it (I grew tired of it ) and it is obvious I have issues and I want to have the things other girls have too , I'm 21 btw and I have ha this as long as I can remember ...
I am really glad that there are others , but what is the solution .? Other ways to handle with this ?

Helen Barbour said...

Hi Anonymous (12 October), thanks for taking the time to read my post and to follow up with your own story. I'm sorry to hear that things are so difficult for you. Are there any good mental health resources when you live? It is never too late to address problems like these, and to make changes, and you are still very young, so have plenty of time to turn things around - but it sounds as if maybe you need some professional help? I'm afraid I don't have any easy solutions to offer myself! Wishing you the best of luck in dealing with all of this.