Tuesday, August 12, 2008


A friend at tallyscrapper.com started a discussion on hoarding and it really struck a cord.

Although there is no evidence in my home that I am a hoarder, and I don't really think it is an issue for me, I do relate to some of the issues as I have OCD tendencies. I think I have a family member who also struggled with it for a time, but has found help and overcome it, and I'm so proud of them.

My eight year old shows pretty serious signs of the tendency, and it weighs on my mind. I try to set a good example, talking him through how I evaluate the value of the things I already have and how I weigh the decision to bring in more things.

I googled and found this info on the subject that I thought was quite helpful:

Here is some valuable info from the Mayo Clinic research on the subject of hoarding:

People who hoard feel compelled to acquire or save items that others may consider worthless. They may stock up on items at garage sales or rummage through other people's trash. They often spend lots of time moving items in their home from one pile to another, without actually discarding anything. They may be so preoccupied by all their clutter and belongings that they don't socialize with family or friends.

Hoarding affects emotions, thoughts and behavior. Signs and symptoms of hoarding may include:

Inability to discard items
Acquiring unneeded or seemingly useless items
Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
Saving trash or used food containers
Cluttered living spaces
Impairment of daily activities
Trouble making decisions
Difficulty organizing items
Forming attachments to possessions rather than people
Restricting others from touching or borrowing possessions
The homes of people who engage in compulsive hoarding usually offer telltale clues that something's wrong. Countertops, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways and virtually all other surfaces are stacked with stuff. And when there's no more room inside, the clutter may spread to the garage, vehicles and yard.

People who engage in hoarding typically collect items because they believe these items will be needed or have value in the future. They worry about not having these items on hand. They also don't want to feel as if they're wasting anything, so they save everything. For some, the piles of belongings are a source of comfort.

It's not clear what causes hoarding. Some researchers believe that hoarding occurs on a continuum — some people may simply be considered harmless pack rats, while others have a much more severe form of collecting that endangers their life. Hoarding is currently considered a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and it's sometimes called OCD hoarding. It may one day be classified as a separate disorder, though. Exactly what triggers hoarding compulsions and desires is still under investigation. Like OCD, it may be related, at least in part, to genetics and upbringing.

Lifestyle and home remedies:

Hoarding can lead to isolation and loneliness, which in turn can lead to more hoarding. If you don't want visitors to your house, try to get out to visit with others.
Remind yourself that you don't have to live in squalor and chaos — that you deserve better and that you can enjoy life more.
If you feel overwhelmed by the volume of your possessions and the decluttering task that lies ahead, remember that you can take small steps. With a professional's help, you can tackle one area at a time. Small wins like this can lead to big wins.
To keep motivated to declutter, focus on your goals — living a healthier and more enjoyable life.

Compulsive hoarding is a complex problem involving problematic patterns of acquisition, organization, and retention of items of questionable value. Compulsive hoarders often acquire excessive quantities of items, live in cluttered and disorganized circumstances, and fail to dispose of items in a reasonable and timely manner. The predominant treatment for compulsive hoarding is cognitive behavior therapy. (CBT) that employs exposure (e.g., practice in discarding hoarded items), response prevention (e.g., forgoing opportunities to add items to the cache of hoarded items), and cognitive restructuring (e.g., correcting distorted beliefs relating to hoarding). Pharmacologic treatment has also been applied to hoarding. While there is little research on treatment outcome, it is believed that hoarding is strongly predictive of a poor treatment outcome. It is widely held that these individuals are often difficult to engage in treatment, lack motivation to change and are resistant to therapeutic interventions. Thus, among the so-called "obsessive-compulsive (OC) spectrum disorders," hoarding is viewed as an OC variant that is particularly hard to treat. "OC Foundation article"

Here is a link to a test you can take to help you scale your propensity toward this issue.

I took the test for myself and for Andrew regarding his portion of the house and the results were even more concerning for him than I had expected.

Average score for the whole test is 24, a high score would be 40. Andrew scored 55.
Of course if I asked him these questions his perception would factor in more heavily and his score would go down a bit, but I tried to factor in what I knew of his perception, not just my outside judgement. My score was 16, so that comforts me to feel that I might be able to help him with this issue.

Very interesting topic!


Tami said...

i think i have the opposite problem, i clean too much and give too much stuff away/recycle. my mom has a friend that doesn't throw anything away...it is very sad, it has taken over her life

Jan said...

I was average on the test. I need Pat to take it. You should see our garage...all things from her dad's and he has plans for her to bring more here!! I have no clue where we'll put it!

rachel whetzel said...

Cool Test!

latte_grande said...

Hmmm....I scored a 26! And I thought I was pretty good at purging/reducing clutter. Well...there were a lot of questions on that test!!

You should try letting Andrew take it, and just be there to answer any questions he might have. Maybe his score would help you not to worry? And he's young, so maybe that test isn't appropriate for his age. Maybe it's normal for kids to want to hoard stuff?


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