Hoarders Need Professional Help To Overcome Their Urges
Depression, anxiety and hoarding are states of mind people can’t simply ‘snap out of’’ because somebody else thinks they are ‘wrong’. Therefore professional assistance may be advisable if they show signs of spinning out of control.
There’s absolutely nothing inappropriate about hanging on to old school photos, or vinyl discs that don’t play properly anymore, because the covers evoke memories. However UK Anxiety thinks things start getting out of control as the clutter spreads.
The warning signs are rooms no longer available for their intended use, difficulty moving through a home, and outside doors blocked from the inside. If living in a home becomes dangerous from a health or safety perspective, then some form of action may be required.
But First, Why Do People Hoard Unwanted Possessions?
The U.S. Department of Health Services believes compulsive, problematic hoarding is associated with a number of brain disorders. However, it singles out Hoarding Disorder (HD) as the most likely cause. It defines HD as
“A pattern of persistent difficulties with discarding personal possessions, even those with no clear value, because of strong desires to save along with distress or indecision about what to discard.”
Anxiety UK lists clothes, newspapers, containers, junk mail, books, and craft items among the most popular ‘collectibles’. Hoarders squirrel them away because ‘they don’t want to waste something someone might find useful someday’.
Therefore, it can be said that hoarding begins with the noble principle of helping strangers, somewhere. It also keeps potentially recyclable material away from land-fill sites that are steadily destroying some of Britain’s most lovely valleys.
All Things In Moderation Without Excess
The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed ‘moderation in all things’ was a virtue. Two millennia later, Britain’s maverick Oscar Wild added ‘everything in moderation, including moderation’. The Mayo Clinic recommends treatment for hoarding disorder when this is no longer the case.
Many people with HD run a mile from this because of the ‘stigma of mental illnesses’. There is no such thing as mental illness. The right word is a disorder of the brain many of which can be corrected with medical assistance.
How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy May Moderate Hoarding
There’s little point in trying to ‘heal’ hoarding completely. That’s because it is part of the person’s personality, and that’s a precious thing. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy rests on the assumption that thought affects behaviour, and behaviour influences thought patterns.
Psychology Today thinks compulsive hoarding develops when this feedback loop runs away with itself. Therefore it follows a skilled therapist can help the affected person restore order to their life. Here’s how this works, it says:
- The hoarder learns to isolate thought patterns leading to hoarding
- They then practice ways to counter hoarding urges that these cause
- Next, they sort through their hoard and discard things they can do without
- Finally, they reorganize what they decide to keep a logical, tidy way
They can then move on and out, engaging society in the confidence they have beaten the hoarding habit. However, a little selective hoarding of precious things can help us on our journey. Perhaps that’s why the young Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb was so cluttered with things he could not possible use in the after-life.
That said, they did prove useful exhibits for filling corners at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Thank heaven someone decided not to throw them away at the time.