non-ism
n. Radical self-denial, usually as a reaction to extreme over-indulgence. Also: nonism.

Example Citations:
A Boston psychiatrist has complained that his 24-year-old son is suffering from severe “non-ism”. A few years ago, the young man looked at the chaos around him and decided not to participate, his father reports. He gave up drinking, drugs and caffeine, meat, sugar, dairy and wheat products and sex. The father says his son is depressed and lethargic. “He’s a pleasure anorexic. He‘s stuck.”
—Peter Pringle, “Out Of The West: A nihilism for the nineties sweeps America,” The Independent, June 6, 1990

They also yearn for simplicity and purity. That means getting down to the essentials, to what really matters. And that means saying no to things.

“We’re in an era of non-ism,” said Allison Cohen of the New York advertising firm Ally & Gargano.
—Pat Widder, “Baby Boomers are growing less tolerant of risks,” Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1992

Earliest Citation:
There are new Scarlet Letters: a burning cigarette, a martini glass, a line of white powder. Just a few years ago, these were symbols of sophistication. Today, they have become icons of low life. ...

Each symbol has the power to signify class distinction and personal identity. Each is a thread in the skein of Puritanism that has always run through American life, periodically pulling the fabric taut.

“The most virulent non-ism grows out of, or even coincides with, eras of easy money and indulgence,” said Dr. Stuart Ewen, a professor of communications at Hunter College.
—Molly O‘Neill, “Words to Survive Life With: None of This, None of That,” The New York Times, May 27, 1990

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