Most of us are inclined to write off hoarding to bad habits, sheer laziness or eccentricity. The fact remains that once identified, hoarding is a recognised medical disorder than can be treated. For those co-habiting with hoarders, possible implications to lifestyle quality within their household apply.
Classic Signs of Hoarding
You Tube videos and the social media in general – including many TV reality shows – have brought hoarding into the public domain. Face up to it, the hoarder home typically exposed on TV is chaotic, unkempt and neglected when compared to folk leading ‘normal lives’. The moment you walk through the front door, sensation takes over as the cameras record the build-up of mess inside.
Who Among Us Is Most Likely To Hoard?
Research confirms that around 5% of the population will end up hoarding. Typically, hoarding tendencies are the result of strange behavioural patterns and disordered thoughts displayed by the potential sufferer. The condition can result from:
# Emotional intensity (possessiveness) over items accumulated, irrespective of significance, usefulness or value
# An unhealthy urge to rescue worthless items, on the justification of a recycling mission for profit that in all probability won’t happen
# Reluctance to allow items collected to go. Once accumulated, items will remain in the collection
# Likely resistance to discard even unusable goods in order to avoid an anxious reaction from the hoarder
# A total inability to organise, make use of, mind for, locate, or enjoy additions to the collection
# Normal space around the home sacrificed in the name of hoarding – this includes important rooms like the kitchen and bathroom or toilet. In some cases, finances earmarked for utility bill payments goes to procuring even more junk
Never Judge a Book by its Cover
Medical professionals know more about hoarding following extensive research. As many as 5% of the population may fall under the influence of this disorder. Profiling reveals that it not confined to women, the typical stereotype conjuring thoughts of a protective ‘mother’ tending her many cats. A 2008 study from a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland confirms that hoarding is more likely to affect men.
Whereas men prefer to remain off the social services radar, women sufferers are more open, and willing to seek assistance.
Children Hoarding, Surely Not?
Perhaps quite surprisingly, hoarding is just as active in children and adolescents. Parents need to be alert to this problem, remaining alert to tell-tale symptoms. This could be as simple as a teenager making their bedroom an inaccessible fortress, festooned with a collection of bric-a-brac.
The sooner identified the better, as this opens the door to professional help from a therapist. Early interventions will help avoid disastrous situations developing later in life. Remember that hoarding and depression are potential partners, both flourishing as domestic living and social relationships deteriorate.
Spotting the Obvious Signs
The life histories of hoarders are seldom free of significant trauma. Loss of a parent or sibling, severe punishment or sexual abuse during childhood, loss of a life partner through death or abandonment, being the victim of war or violent crime, or losing a career that was essential to one’s identity, can all transform a tendency to clutter into a case of extreme hoarding.
The Ageing Factor
We know that hoarding tendencies escalate if left unchecked. This may snowball into an untenable situation over time, particularly for the loved ones or friends directly affected. Dramatic experiences occurring earlier in life may resurface, resulting in a sense of hopelessness.
In such circumstances, hoarders may start to experience health problems. Adding to their woes is a probable loss of earning potential that simply fuels feelings of vulnerability and helplessness. Throwing in the towel seems the easiest response, with the resultant inability to perform even simple tasks. Daily routines become a challenge, and the net starts closing in for those affected.