Pesach Cleaning

So what else is new? I am happy to report that I am not afflicted with PPCD this year. I actually am pretty calm and relaxed. I may have perfected denial to a new level. However, for those of you suffering, I would like to re-publish this diagnostic material that I wrote about 10 years ago, but somehow remains relevant. The prognosis is good.

New diagnostic category added to DSM-IV-R
PPCD: Pre-Pesach Cleaning Disorder

This is a recently discovered disorder, recognized as a seasonal disorder, usually coming in early spring. It is characterized by obsessive thinking about cleanliness, far out of normal proportions. It is distinguished from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 300.3 by several symptoms.

1. Obsessive focusing on small particles of food throughout the house to the extent of climbing onto bookshelves and behind toilets to ferret out particles smaller than the eye can see.

2. Compulsive washing of objects that are ostensibly clean (e.g., one patient was found putting her children’s Legos into a sock bag and washing them. This was discovered by a disturbed neighbor who couldn’t figure out what could possibly be banging so loudly and incessantly in the dryer. The patient, when confronted said, “Well, what did you expect– for me to put them in the toy box wet!”)

3. Incessant moving of common objects from their normal places (e.g., dishes, silverware, etc. are wrapped up and/or banished from their normal shelves and drawers.)

4. Talking with friends and acquaintances about topics formerly of no interest (e.g., effectiveness of different oven cleaners, location of most pungent horseradish.)

This disorder seems to occur in a social context. Frequently groups of women become pre-occupied with cleaning simultaneously.

Presumptive symptoms:
1. Spring time frame.
2. Patient is a woman.
3. Patient reports insomnia.
4. Patient has red hands.
5. Patient has a heavy odor of cleaning substances.
6. Patient does not have time to talk about it.

This disorder has a guarded prognosis. Although patients uniformly recover within several weeks, they tend to relapse around the same time each year.

There are reports of cessation of symptoms if they are taken away for a week to a hotel each year.

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