There’s more to hoarding than most people think who watch television sitcoms of people clearing houses. Hoarding disorder is far from being a comedy show. It is a serious affliction that may affect people living down your street, or even the folk at work you think you know well.
Respected scientists increasingly agree that “hoarding disorder is as common as obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar illness, and autism.” Yet many of us still believe hoarders can ‘snap out of it’, while appreciating those other conditions are chronic.
Hoarding is Deeply Embedded in the Person’s Psyche
Our society has been through a long haul to discover people are entitled to be different. We have thankfully long ceased locking up people who keep black cats, and nowadays we are free to marry anybody we like as long as they are of age.
Perhaps it’s time to say, “Okay you’re a hoarder I like watching soccer vive the difference it makes the world go round”. Although we still have a way to go to reaching that level of acceptance collectively.
To be honest, the best scientists can’t agree what hoarding is, what causes it and what do about it. Until we reach that point we are hardly in a position to tell hoarders to snap out of anything.
Perhaps We Should Challenge the Psychiatric Association’s Definition
The idea of hoarding being a recognizable disorder apart from obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar illness, and autism still sticks. Although when a noted scientist compared a group of hoarders with the official definition only 19% met the criteria.
Those criteria are, and we quote “a longstanding irrational, persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value”. We note this is not age or gender bound. We wondered about the 81% of hoarders who don’t meet the standard.
The scientist discovered they were “poorer, older, more likely to live alone without a partner, and tended to suffer from additional mental and physical illnesses in addition to hoarding”. This opens the possibility of hoarding actually being a symptom of something else.
Therefore It Is Possible Hoarding is a Situational Condition
It follows that hoarding may be a situational condition like so many modern illnesses. Behavioural scientists wonder whether this links across to the stress of living in a world overcrowded by so much bad news.
However, Japanese self-styled decluttering evangelist Marie Kondo may also have the making of a solution. She has sold 11 million copies of her book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. Her advice is get rid of all the clutter that depresses us.
Only keep the bits that bring you joy, she says. Researchers at Yale University believe “throwing out objects activates a part of the brain that’s also responsible for processing pain”. If that’s the same stressful pain that causes hoarding, then we might be onto a good thing.