Monday, October 24, 2005

The psychology of a cluttered desk

I think this piece of pop psychology caught my eye, because my desk is such a mess. The news article, in the News Observer, suggests that clutter which seems so common in American households somehow parallels to the obesity epidemic:

To many observers, clutter reflects the mind-set of the modern household -- overburdened, disorganized and compulsive. To others, clutter is a broader symbol of a culture dependent on easy credit, piling up debt and consuming a lion's share of the world's resources without considering the consequences.
"People's homes are a reflection of their lives," says Los Angeles psychologist and organizational consultant Peter Walsh. "It is no accident that people have a huge weight problem in this country, and clutter is the same thing. Homes are an orgy of consumption."

The article later postulates an evolutionary psychological requirement to hoard items against possible future famine. Also featured-- I'm not making this up-- is the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. I'm sure their meetings begin promptly.

Good paleolib that I am, I do believe that people could get by owning a lot less. But I'm not sure I believe the link that this article tries to make between clutter and overconsumption. "Overburdened, disorganized and compulsive" though I may be, my desk clutter seems to come mainly because I don't have the habit of putting things away promptly. In contrast,I seem to remember Imelda Marcos having all her shoes in tidy rows.

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