If you are worried someone you know is developing, or has hoarding syndrome then this post is for you. What we provide here is only for information, and is not medical advice. You may however use this knowledge to help decide whether you need to consult a medical professional.
What is Hoarding, Actually?
Hoarding is accumulating mountains of stuff the person does not need, but cannot throw away. They often become emotionally protective when challenged. A hoard is disorganized piles of junk, whereas a collection has real value.
Compulsive hoarders usually don’t understand the fuss. They willingly give up parts of their home, to preserve what they believe has future value.
What Sort of Things Might Be in a Hoard?
Hoarders sometimes deliberately purchase things for their hoards, or they could also be discards others of us throw in the trash. Sometimes they pick things up in the street. They may even occasionally steal them.
Some hoarders collect animals believing they are protecting them. Many of us don’t want to clear our cache files or history. We hoard them because we may need them some day.
Is Hoarding Ever Part of Normal Life?
All of us are hoarders to a greater or lesser extent. Moreover, there is a thin dividing line between hoarding and collecting. Selective hoarding need not be a problem. We all hang onto things we don’t need because of associated memories.
However, when hoarding takes over a person’s life, and clutters their untidy, messy home then that could be something to be concerned about.
Is That Person Mentally or Ill Then?
They might have a condition called hoarding disorder. However their behaviour could also be the result of a physical illness, dementia, depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, learning disability, autism, or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Speak to a medical professional if you need to know more about these cross links.
So What Is Hoarding Disorder, Then?
A person who gathers possessions irrationally as we described, is a compulsive hoarder if they do not have one or more of those other medical conditions. They experience their hoarding as something pleasurable that they enjoy.
However, the other medical conditions above do not give the affected person pleasure. A life-changing event can cause a person to start hoarding.
So Hoarding Is Not Dangerous Then?
Although hoarding may provide pleasure, it can result in unhealthy and even dangerous conditions. A hoard can catch fire, attract vermin and insects, and make cooking and eating difficult. There have been cases where hoards fell on people and crushed them.
Do I Need Professional Help for This?
Hoarders, and also their friends and family can feel embarrassed about talking about it. There are a number of caring organizations with qualified persons offering help. However, taking a hard line and trying to force the issue may create firmer resistance.
If your family member or friend is not at risk of harming themselves or other people, then you may prefer to visit your hoarder regularly, and help them tidy things up instead. Hoarding is not a crime. In fact, hoarders believe it is their right.