Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which the sufferer experiences uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviours (compulsions) that recur repeatedly.
Describing Compulsive Hoarding
Two main behavioural patterns sum up compulsive hoarding. It begins with the acquiring of possessions and then being unable to clear or dispose of what becomes useless clutter, which is no longer useful or needed.
Hoarding becomes a disorder after disorganised clutter starts to pose a threat to household health and safety, culminating in major distress to all living in the space. In short, the accumulation of masses of clutter leads to chaos taking over from a normal lifestyle in a home. This results in:
# Difficulty with entry and exit because of blocked doorways
# Movement around the home becomes limited and restricted
# Rooms becoming uninhabitable due to excess clutter
Typical Possessions People Hoard
It may seem to the neutral onlooker that hoarders accumulate valueless rubbish, but a chronic hoarder has difficulty discarding anything. This may include new items purchased that remain unopened in the original packaging. Everyday objects like newspapers and clothes are common items constituting part of a compulsive hoard. Other easy to collect items include books, advertising material shoved in the letterbox and containers full of items that we normally consider trash.
So What Drives People to Hoard?
Fearful, if not horrified by wastage, is certainly one of the main drivers of the hoarding phenomenon. Perhaps because of their strict upbringing, people often turn to hoarding on the basis that waste remains a no-go zone. The mere thought of discarding possessions brings on a sense of guilt in terms of the waste factor. Hoarders will do anything they can to ward off any attempt to clear the mess.
Every single item making up a hoarders collection has an important link to an event or happening in the collectors mind. They store large volumes of clutter on the basis that one day they will sift and sort the collection. Of course, this never happens in reality as the pile of clutter just keeps on growing. Just knowing that the collection is nearby and safe is soothing to the hoarder.
The fascination of interesting objects is something we all feel drawn to, no problem there. Difficulties arise when anything and everything attracts the onlooker. It could be the texture, shape or simply the colour that attracts the human eye. Oft times, people who hoard have an eye for the arts and crafts thanks to their creative nature. Trouble starts when the collector seems to have a passion for every item they come across. The hoarder ‘label’ kicks in.
Reversing Compulsive Hoarding Trends
It starts with a long, hard stare in the mirror to see yourself as others see you.
Each of us can find many different arguments as to why we need a particular item, but the practical question is whether it is for present or future use. If you have never used it since owning an item, it seems highly probable that you will not use it again. Rather discard unused items by holding a garage sale, and if that does not work, consign them to the rubbish bin.
In the event a compulsive hoarder does not consider it necessary to take evasive action, counselling sessions may be required. Typically, 12 sessions offering therapies such as Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are the best way forward.
However, this is dependent upon the individual and may require additional sessions. A session usually lasts around 50 minutes and normally takes place on a weekly basis.
Recognising that compulsive hoarding is an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), perhaps requiring medical interventions, is the first important move. Remember, though that a person must welcome the therapy if it is to succeed.