Compulsive Hoarding: Stockpiling Serious Amounts of Stuff
Posted on July 13, 2016
by April S
Hoarding is an interesting topic to delve into for a variety of reasons.
Maybe you collect a lot of stuff.
Perhaps you have a relative with a cluttered home.
Or maybe you simply think hoarding or hoarders are interesting from a psychological standpoint.
It’s often difficult to understand why people do the things they do.
Why do people save so much stuff?
Why don’t they just throw it all out?
When all the clutter gets in the way of maintaining a healthy living space these are questions many people would ask, but it’s not that simple for hoarders.
The Reality of Hoarding
Reality TV is well-known for making spectacles out of people and the lives they lead. A&E’s Hoarders made headlines by focusing on the most extreme cases of hoarding anyone had ever seen. However, hoarders were famous long before reality TV. One of the most notorious cases of hoarding in United States history is that of the Collyer brothers. Their story has inspired movies, plays and a novel by E.L. Doctorow entitled Homer & Langley. The case was so famous that hoarding disorder has often been referred to as ‘Collyer brothers syndrome.’ Although many may cringe at the public’s insatiable appetite for chronicles of hoarding, the resulting national dialogue has led to a better understanding of hoarding as a true mental disorder, which helped move the subject out of the realm of taboo and into one of reality. It’s no longer something no one talks about or deals with, which is definitely a step in the right direction.
What exactly is hoarding anyway?
To hoard means to “accumulate (money or valued objects) and hide or store away.” Mental health professionals often link hoarding to obsessive compulsive and anxiety disorders. This often misunderstood condition is now listed as hoarding disorder, “a distinct entity under the category Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders.”
Every home gets a little messy from time to time, but it’s important to consider that there may be a real problem if the mess starts to have a negative impact on a person’s daily life, health or safety. In many instances, the thought of getting rid of their ‘stuff’ evokes such high levels of anxiety that they tend to hold onto things more than others. Compulsive hoarding affects approximately 3 million Americans across the United States. However, it’s believed the statistics on this disorder are highly underrepresented, because sufferers may find it difficult to ask for help.
The road to recovery can be long and arduous. However, with intervention and ongoing therapy sufferers can improve their quality of life. Family members may even become closer to their loved ones suffering from the disorder when they step in to help with the recovery and cleanup process.
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