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What is a compulsive hoarder?
This may be a somewhat sensitive and heavy topic, but I believe many will find great value in it.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. The information here has been compiled from various sources on the topic. I am not prescribing any diagnosis or treatment.
We all collect items during our lifetime. Coins, dolls, books, stamps, shoes, trinkets, you name it. But what we’re talking about here is not mom or grandma’s salt and pepper collection that’s run amok (so don’t go running to your mom or grandma and start accusing them of hoarding)!
Sometimes collecting can get out of hand, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Hoarding is not collecting.
Webster’s Dictionary defines a hoard as: Hidden accumulation (note use of the word hidden).
Other sources define hoarding as: Excessive collection and retention of items to the point it interferes with daily functioning (home, health, family, work, social life, etc.).
Let me be clear . . . This is MUCH more than just having a messy house, normal clutter or being very disorganized. This is a genuine compulsion.
Compulsive hoarding is sometimes referred to as pathological hoarding.
Many people who hoard are also compulsive buyers as well.
Researchers indicate that hoarding seems to be pretty evenly divided between men and women. Statistics show that there are slightly more women hoarders that are known than men. Maybe men just hide it better?
One study found that 80 percent of hoarders grew up in homes as children with someone who hoarded. Many are children of parents who grew up during the Great Depression. They learned not to waste anything. Everything might be needed later on.
Not all researchers agree on whether compulsive hoarding is a condition in and of itself or if it is simply a symptom of other related conditions such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and/or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).
Extreme cases even cause both safety and health hazards. In some cases, people cannot get rid of actual trash, garbage, leftover food, etc.
This causes problems:
There are even categories of hoarding:
The truly sad part is these people are suffering and so are the ones who love them.
The following reasons of why people hoard are closely linked. Although they appear to be somewhat similar, they still have distinct differences.
These are only a few reasons why people hoard.
There is no cure for compulsive hoarding. There is no treatment that will make the problem go away completely and never return.
However, some doctors have helped people manage their symptoms effectively in the following ways:
Compulsive hoarders usually have taken their internal emotional clutter and have given it an external manifestation.
The reason they surround themselves with things is to try to fill a void. They may also seek to surround themselves with a bubble of security and comfort.
Clutter and disorganization cause stress not only for the cluttered person, but family, friends, and co-workers as well.
There is no need to be embarrassed. Hoarding is typically a life-long psychological problem that can’t be solved overnight.
The best advice anyone can give someone suffering from compulsive hoarding is:
The following is a link to My Mother's Garden a film about one woman's struggle with compulsive hoarding. Read about the film and view the trailer.
The National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has a special group of Professional Organizers trained to deal with compulsive hoarding.
The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization also offers a certification program for dealing with chronic disorganization issues, such as hoarding.
You can find additional information and resources on compulsive hoarding (and related material on OCD and OCPD) and treatment at various websites.
You might also want to read the book by Fugen Neziroglu entitled Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding: Why You Save & How You Can Stop.
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