The definition of hoarding as a separate disorder is relatively new. In fact, the International Classification of Diseases only identified it separately in 2018. Until then, some social workers had little idea what hoarding syndrome was about, beyond an unspeakably untidy home.
But Jeffrey Avery and Associates had realised the difference far earlier than that. We discovered many compulsive hoarders are often gentle, lovely people. They just have household waste and clutter seemingly dumped in every corner of their home, regardless of its actual value to a third party.
However, There Is Sometimes Value Among The Junk
You can’t take the approach hoarding is junk piling up, because the occupant is too lazy to tidy their home. Many hoarders whose homes we cleared were once tidy people with prized possessions. However, these may not be obvious after the syndrome overwhelms them until we retrieve the value.
You may be wondering how our hoarding removal service works at this stage. It begins with carefully sifting through possessions. And then identifying any items of value so you can decide what to do with them.
Ignorance is not an offence prosecuted in England. Junk collectors who inadvertently trash valuable, and early 20th century furniture are not guilty of a crime. Nor are rubbish removers in trouble if they ignorantly throw collectables in the crusher at a council site.
We can’t promise to find value in a hoarded home. However we have occasional done so, as some of these photos show. Avery Associates catalogues interesting things as we find them, and sets them aside as the house clearance continues. We have professional valuers on call to advise our clients what to do next.
What Is Hoarding. How Does It Break Out?
There is little consensus on the origin of this mental state. However, we can confirm 5% of people develop uncontrollable urges not to throw things away. We cleared a home in Beckenham where even our presence caused the occupant unbelievable stress.
We backed off from the assignment until a relative resolved the situation. In that case, they worked with us throughout the project, gently calming the hoarder. They involved them in decisions, as they gradually realised how they would benefit from a professional house clearance.
Social workers are beginning to understand how some people seem to be born with an innate urge not to throw things away. That’s because compulsive hoarding seems to run in families, and surface occasionally. It’s also possible traumatic emotional incidents bring the syndrome out into the open.
What Is Hoarding Compared to Collecting?
New clients often ask us what is hoarding actually. Sometimes their troubled relative was an avid collector in the past. But their ability to discriminate between collectibles and other people’s waste steadily deteriorated, until they started collecting things at fly tipping sites.
The distinction between hoarding and collecting blurs at the crossover point. However, there are clear differences between serious collectors, and people who keep things because they might be useful someday.
- Collections usually follow a theme like postage stamps, watches, porcelain figurines, and so on.
- Their owners often enjoy showing them off, and trading spares with others at meets to complete their collections.
- They also enjoy displaying them in their homes. They can be methodical in how they organize them too.
- People hoarding things for the sake of it are unlikely to store them tidily, or sort or catalogue them.
- They find it difficult to resolve the disorganized chaos that results, or get around to making a start.
- When they do make a start they often give up easily, after they realise the enormity of their task.
Understanding Hoarders and Factors Driving Them
Hoarders are not deranged people at all. They don’t require psychiatric treatment. However, they may need some help sorting out their lives. There is no one-size-fits all to the way the rest of us value our possessions:
- Some of us accumulate them for their intrinsic value, for example rare stamps and coins.
- Others of us hang on to things for their instrumental value, for example spare parts for the fridge.
- A third group keeps things for sentimental value, like family photographs and parents’ wedding rings.
Compulsive hoarders’ values are an extreme case of those examples. To them, everything has intrinsic, instrumental, or sentimental value in their minds and the bond is strong. Sometimes there’s no choice except a complete clear out and restart.
I used Avery Associates for probate content valuation, clearance and auction and have been very impressed with their prompt, personal, knowledgeable experience and service. The clearance of large furniture items down several flights of stairs was done without a hitch and the guys even brought their own vacuum cleaner to hoover up any remaining dust and debris. Always a pleasure to work with a team of friendly, personable professionals. Best wishes Margaret