Hoarding: what is it and why do people do it?
Compulsive hoarding (more accurately described as “hoarding disorder”) is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. Compulsive hoarding behavior has been associated with health risks, impaired functioning, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members. When clinically significant enough to impair functioning, hoarding can prevent typical uses of space so as to limit activities such as cooking, cleaning, moving through the house, and sleeping. It can also be dangerous if it puts the individual or others at risk from fire, falling, poor sanitation, and other health concerns.
Researchers have only recently begun to study hoarding, and it was first defined as a mental disorder in the 5th edition of the DSM in 2013. It is not clear whether “compulsive” hoarding is a separate, isolated disorder, or rather a symptom of another condition, such as OCD. Prevalence rates have been estimated at 2-5% in adults, though the condition typically manifests in childhood with symptoms worsening in advanced age when collected items have grown excessive and family members who would otherwise help to maintain and control the levels of clutter either die or move away. Hoarding appears to be more common in people with psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Other factors often associated with hoarding include alcohol dependence as well as paranoid, schizotypal, and avoidance traits. Family histories show strong positive correlations.
In 2008 a study was conducted to determine if there is a significant link between hoarding and interference in occupational and social functioning. Hoarding behavior is often severe because of poor insight of the hoarding patients in that they do not recognize it as a problem. Without this insight, it is much harder for behavioral therapy to be the key to the successful treatment of compulsive hoarders. The results found that hoarders were significantly less likely to see a problem in a hoarding situation than a friend or a relative might. This is independent of OCD symptoms as patients with OCD are often very aware of their disorder.
Hoarding is a general term for a behavior that leads people or animals to accumulate food or other items during periods of scarcity.
Civil unrest or natural disaster may lead people to hoard foodstuffs, water, gasoline and other essentials which they believe, rightly or wrongly, will soon be in short supply. Survivalists, also known as preppers, often stockpile large supplies of these items in anticipation of a large-scale disaster event.
Some hoarding in humans may be a form of an anxiety disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), where the perceived importance of the hoarded items far exceeds their true value.Humans may lose the desire to throw away unneeded items because of a feeling of attachment to these items. In severe cases, houses belonging to such people may become a fire hazard (due to blocked exits and stacked papers) or a health hazard (due to vermin infestation, excreta and detritus from excessive pets, hoarded food and garbage or the risk of stacks of items collapsing on the occupants and blocking exit routes).
That gives you a couple definitions. However; I believe there are 2 types of hoarders! Well maybe 3.
The 3rd being the Doomsday Prepper.
That’s a cool hoarder and not the topic of discussion!
The 2nd Hoarder is the popular Hoarder as of late: the Extreme Hoarder what they boil down to is a feeling of self worth! They believe everything is worth money and you can’t get rid of their possessions! The Super Extreme ones you see on tv on shows like Hoarders, American Pickers and occasional Storage Wars they get so extreme that they start collecting everything even junk like candy and food wrappers! That’s crazy and also not the topic of discussion, although it is sometimes fun to watch.
The Hoarder I am talking about is the average everyday Hoarder! What is that? Well it’s probably your mother or father or close relative! Why do they Hoard? What’s wrong with them? Why do they clutter up the house and hold on to junk? Will you please throw that crap out!
I have recently emptied my storage shed that I have had for many years. In doing so, I have learned the root cause of the Hoarding and why they do it! It wasn’t easy to do it, let me tell you!
First of all they are not hoarding junk! They are not hoarding garbage! They are not cluttering the house with useless stuff!
You say hold on! Yes they are! The place is a mess! I don’t believe you! I can see it with my own eyes! No, no you really can’t!
So; if they aren’t Hoarding junk what are they doing?
They are Hoarding Memories! I can tell you when emptying my storage shed except for all the empty boxes I had; (yes I had a bunch of empty boxes, I’ll get to that later lol) everything thing in there I can tell you a story about! “Do you see this Tshirt? I got it at the first concert my uncle took me to when I was a kid! We had a great time and he was actually like an older brother! I love him so much!”
You see they are Hoarding memories! So next time you want to yell at them, think about it first and ask them about their items! They may be able to tell you why they have it and in sharing the memory they may be able to let go of the item and throw it out.
Then again you have the combo Borderline Hoarders like myself! Who I like to refer to are collectors! I have a few collections: Guns, Swords… Weapons that’s due to my military and martial art background. Popular collections such as: Star Wars toys, baseball cards, comic books, autographs etc… That stuff is the extreme hoarder side: it’s worth money!
I did however; learn a few things along the way: baseball cards and comic books are anal! It must look like it’s never been touched by human hands in order to be worth real money, so don’t go overboard! One little dinged corner and it’s shit! If it’s a little discolored… Shit! I hope you have an air tight vacuum sealed vault!
The solution is this: look at my previous posts for example the Restaurant Review: One Lucky Duck in there I share a quote: everything in moderation!
It’s ok to do all the above, but do it in moderation! Save some memories, save some monetary possessions and be a Doomsday Prepper! But, when it starts to consume your life, remember everything in moderation! Don’t go to extremes!
This goes for everything! Collections, sex, religion, politics, food all the taboo subjects lol
Anything and everything!
Remember what I learned from the Dalai Lama: compassion! Have compassion for the hoarder in your life! Try to understand why they do it and have a little patience! Share in the memories! Unless it’s a memory of a past lover, in that case you can ignore the Dalai Lama and kick their ass! Lol
“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
Bonus: Why was my storage shed loaded with empty boxes? Because; I am a little OCD and I knew I was going to be moving again, so I kept the original boxes to put it back in when I move so nothing gets damaged.