Unhealthy relationship with a vacuum cleaner

Packard

Senior Member
USA, English
Context:

A while back a co-worker of mine did extensive Google research looking for a very-quiet-vacuum cleaner. It seems that she would awaken at 2 o'clock in the morning and feel a compulsion to vacuum her apartment. A "proper" vacuuming takes 2 hours (a two bedroom apartment). Since the neighbors were complaining and she was going to get evicted she decided to buy the very-quiet-vacuum. (She has not been evicted.)

Fast forward to today:

Our computer tech repaired one of the computers and laid the blame on dust that got into the works. So my co-worker went home and picked up her very-quiet-vacuum and has been vacuuming every nook and cranny in our office for the past two hours.

Question:

What to call this addiction? I Googled "vacuum cleaning obsession" and found no applicable term.
 
  • Kumpel

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think it would take an "outside-the-box" kinda mind, and fluency in either Latin/Greek to come up with a suitable term (and the same to understand it); it's a bit like arachibutyrophobia: the fear of peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.
     

    Bigote Blanco

    Senior Member
    Context:

    A while back a co-worker of mine did extensive Google research looking for a very-quiet-vacuum cleaner. It seems that she would awaken at 2 o'clock in the morning and feel a compulsion to vacuum her apartment. A "proper" vacuuming takes 2 hours (a two bedroom apartment). Since the neighbors were complaining and she was going to get evicted she decided to buy the very-quiet-vacuum. (She has not been evicted.)

    Fast forward to today:

    Our computer tech repaired one of the computers and laid the blame on dust that got into the works. So my co-worker went home and picked up her very-quiet-vacuum and has been vacuuming every nook and cranny in our office for the past two hours.

    Question:

    What to call this addiction? I Googled "vacuum cleaning obsession" and found no applicable term.
    Packard,
    Your friend has pathological condition - an obsessive compulsive disorder.
    "A vacum cleaning obsession" - clearly describes her problem.
    Bigote
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Packard,
    Your friend has pathological condition - an obsessive compulsive disorder.
    "A vacum cleaning obsession" - clearly describes her problem.
    Bigote
    Packard,

    Your friend does not need a quiet vacuum cleaner, she needs professional help for her obsessive compulsive disorder before it gets completely out of hand.

    If I was paying her wages, I'd certainly see it as an urgent need.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Packard,

    Your friend does not need a quiet vacuum cleaner, she needs professional help for her obsessive compulsive disorder before it gets completely out of hand.

    If I was paying her wages, I'd certainly see it as an urgent need.
    I considered getting help. I even Googled "vacuum therapy"; unfortunately that term has already been embraced by the erectile dysfunction community.

    See: http://www.timmmedical.com/
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Poor, poor lady: she'll be shunned by everyone.

    Nature abhors a vacuumer:(.
     
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    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    I think it would take an "outside-the-box" kinda mind, and fluency in either Latin/Greek to come up with a suitable term (and the same to understand it)
    Pretty sure the ancient Romans & Greeks didn't have vacuum cleaners. :) If you want to be specific, probably the best thing is simply Obsessive Compulsive Vacuuming or something.

    More generally, it's an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), although to be fair disorders should be diagnosed by a real doctor, and however much she may seem it, she can't be considered OCD (at least not medically) until she's formally diagnosed with it. Even then, it's still pretty general: some OCD people are germaphobic but rarely clean (they simply avoid touching things), whereas she seems to be a compulsive cleaner, though not necessarily germaphobic.
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    That word was created as a joke and combines the Greek words for "peanut"* and "butter," which obviously both existed in ancient Greece even if "peanut butter" didn't. (Also, the word makes no etymological reference whatsoever to sticking to the mouth; it simply means "fear of peanut butter," or "fear of butter made from peanuts.")

    The difference between that and, say, a vacuum cleaner is that you can't combine the words for "vacuum" and "cleaner" to create anything even remotely meaningful.

    In other words, they actually had the ingredients and the words to make "peanut butter" (or some other nut butter) even if they didn't; whereas they did not have the technology or devices or words to make a "vacuum cleaner." Your best shot would be to say something like "cleaning device that uses suction" (without referring to electricity), but that's not very good.

    *Technically arakis ἀρακίς meant simply "legume" or "leguminous weed" (or "nut"). The peanut as we know it today is indigenous to South America, but the ancient Greeks had other, similar nuts.
     

    Kumpel

    Senior Member
    British English
    The difference between that and, say, a vacuum cleaner is that you can't combine the words for "vacuum" and "cleaner" to create anything even remotely meaningful.

    In other words, they actually had the ingredients and the words to make "peanut butter" (or some other nut) even if they didn't; whereas they did not have the technology or devices or words to make a "vacuum cleaner." Your best shot would be to say something like "cleaning device that uses suction" (without referring to electricity), but that's not very good.
    I'm sure, simply suction-cleaner would suffice.
    The term vacuum cleaner makes no reference to electricity either.
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    Okay, just for fun...

    βδαλσιπλύτης (bdalsiplútēs) - "suction cleaner" (but suction in the sense of to suck with the mouth, e.g. a child)

    If only she were a compulsive sweeper, then we could just call her a καλλυντής (kalluntēs), "sweeper, cleaner." A broom (usually made of palm leaves) is a κάλλυνθρον (kállunthron).

    Edit: I forgot to say what the made-up disorders would be:

    (hyper)bdalsiplynia - (hyper/obsessive) suction cleaning
    (hyper)kallysma - (hyper/obsessive) sweeping
     
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    MsLashun

    New Member
    english
    I think the vacuuming is just a symptom for her real disorder which is fear of dirt or things being dirty which is called Misophobia. I don't think their is a medical name yet for vacuuming compulsion, at least not yet.
     

    Nunty

    Modified
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Poor, poor lady: she'll be shunned by everyone.

    Nature abhors a vacuumer:(.
    In the spirit of opening my door to the marginalized members of our society, I hereby invite this dear lady (and her vacuum cleaner) to my home whenever she wants. :p
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    I wouldn't be too quick to associate an obsessive compulsive-type disorder with a phobia. It's true that some people are diagnosed with OCD precisely because they are {something}-phobic, e.g. germaphobic, but not always.

    For some people, they are diagnosed with OCD because they have to do something, e.g. open and close a door x number of times before entering/leaving a room. It's not because they have a fear of something; they simply have to do it. (Of course, you could say it's a "phobia" in the general sense of something causing "anxiety" and not "fear," but I think most people agree that phobias refer to fears.)

    Similarly, this girl may feel the need to vacuum all the time, not because she has a fear of dirt or dirtiness, but simply because she has to.

    Edit: Wikipedia seems to agree with what I wrote above:

    Though they oftentimes are, mysophobia and OCD are not always linked, and there is a difference between the two. A mysophobe will wash their hands repeatedly to rid the germs, while a person with only OCD will wash obsessively because they feel as though it is necessary to maintain order in their life.
    ...though there's no reference for it.
     
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    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Well.

    I just came back from lunch and it is 2:10 p.m. She is still at it. And she has recruited a co-worker to help her move the heavy stuff. I am the best equipped to move furniture here, but I am steadfast in my resolve not to get involved. Vacu-mama is pissed-off at me for my abstinence.

    I really thought this was sort of a big-joke this morning when I posted this originally. This is starting to look like a serious personality issue to me. So far she has logged 4 hours and 40 minutes. We leave at 3:00 p.m. so she can't go much longer. I'm sure when she leaves she will feel like it as a good day at the office and that she got a lot done.

    Thanks for the replies. Have a good weekend everyone.


    Regards,


    Packard

    Addendum: I wonder if Electro-lux should be considered a co-conspirator for producing a low-sone vacuum--basically providing the enabling technology that in effect perpetuates this behavior.
     
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    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Just out of curiosity, does this sad little clean-freak draw the line at vacuuming, or is she obsessive about other ways of cleaning?

    Does she wash her hands a lot?
    Dust her work space all the time with a cloth?
    Does she run a small air-freshening device at her desk?

    I used to work with a woman who did all these things. This OCD extended into every area of her life. You could not enter her home without removing your shoes.

    If that's true about this woman, a vacuum-only term would be incomplete.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Just out of curiosity, does this sad little clean-freak draw the line at vacuuming, or is she obsessive about other ways of cleaning?

    Does she wash her hands a lot?
    Dust her work space all the time with a cloth?
    Does she run a small air-freshening device at her desk?

    I used to work with a woman who did all these things. This OCD extended into every area of her life. You could not enter her home without removing your shoes.

    If that's true about this woman, a vacuum-only term would be incomplete.
    Both the interior and exterior of her nearly new car are filthy. So I would deduce that it is the vacuuming itself that is the motivation, and not the dirt. The fact that our IT repair guy said it was dust that got into the works that caused the computer failure was simply an excuse to do more vacuuming. She is expanding her vacuuming horizon ever onward. My guess is that if she could get a long enough extension cord she would bring her oh-so-quiet-vacuum to the beach with her this summer. So any terminology we come up with should reflect the action (vacuuming) and not the normal motivation (cleaning).
     
    Last edited:

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I'm wondering if it's sexual frustration.

    Incidently, you finish at 3pm? Any jobs going at your place??
    Just on Fridays. It gives us time to get home before the sun sets on the Sabbath. (The owner of the business is highly religious.)

    On the other hand, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday makes up for the missing 2 hours.

    But if you apply please mention that you will provide your own vacuum for your work area.

    But this does not get me any closer to a term for vacuum-obsessive behavior.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Mr P, she's not a Canadian, is she, by any chance?

    From the beautiful west coast city of Vac-hoover?

    No, but that gets me closer to the term.

    Hooverism
    Hooveraniumism
    Hooverlytis
    Hooveroticism (sexual attachments to the vac)
    Hoovernoia
    Hooverphrenia

    or
    Dysonmania
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Mr P, she's not a Canadian, is she, by any chance?

    From the beautiful west coast city of Vac-hoover?
    This is very funny. :D I also liked Cuchu's Dusty remark.

    In light of what Packy said about how her passion seems to be geared just toward her little Dirt Devil, though, I find her a sad and sick individual.

    She obviously has mental problems. She doesn't need a nickname. She needs professional help.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    This is very funny. :D I also liked Cuchu's Dusty remark.

    In light of what Packy said about how her passion seems to be geared just toward her little Dirt Devil, though, I find her a sad and sick individual.

    She obviously has mental problems. She doesn't need a nickname. She needs professional help.
    That is probably true, but she does not make a very sympathetic co-worker; she's more the majordomo-bossy-pain-in-the-ass type co-worker, and as such would more likely get a nickname than sympathy.

    But we all understand that this is compulsive behavior and we all stand back and let her do her thing.

    Regards,

    Packard
     
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