The International OCD Foundation states, “Hoarding is a complex disorder that is made up of three connected problems:
Haven’t found the relevant content?
Hire a subject expert to help you with Basic Information on Hoarding
Hire verified expert
collecting too many items,
difficulty getting rid of items
problems with organization. ”
Of the items hoarded the most common are newspapers and clothes, but also commonly includes containers, junk mail, craft items, books, trash, and in some cases animals. Even collectors can eventually fall into the category of being a Hoarder when their collection becomes so overwhelming that they are no longer able to display their possessions in a safe manner.
The clutter in a persons’ dwelling must create a health and safety concern, and also significant distress, in order to truly be categorized as a disorder. It is estimated that as many as 1 in every 20 people have a substantial amount of hoarding problems. The act of Hoarding, cluttering of living spaces and keeping items of little to no value, is most commonly found in older age groups but in rare cases can also be found in adolescents and children as early as 3 years old. The reason that hoarding is found so commonly in the elderly is because the severity of the disorder increases with each decade of life.
Hoarding is also found to be more dominant in men than in women. Symptoms of Hoarding are believed to begin in early childhood or adolescence and progress each year without proper therapy. Hoarding is one of only two psychiatric disorders that increase in severity and prevalence as you progress in life, the other is Dementia. There are many consequences that come along with Hoarding, one of the worst being evicted from your home or even your house being ruled as condemned.
There was a study done that found 45% of Hoarders could not use their refrigerators, 42% could not use their kitchen sink, 42% could not use this bathtub, 20% cannot use their bathroom sink, and 10% could not use their toilet. In many cases finances also become an immeasurable quandary in a Hoarders life due to paying for storage units for their priceless treasures, buying items to add to their clutter and paying housing fines caused by their property appearing disheveled or having “lack of curb appeal”.
There are four primary characteristics of Hoarding. The first thing you could see is depression or anxiety with a family history of hoarding. Secondly people who hoard have difficult time processing information; these problems can usually be interpreted as having Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder qualities. Third, people who hoard tend to form intense emotional attachments to a wider variety of objects than a person who doesn’t hoard. Hoarders attach human-like qualities to inanimate objects.
In other words, asking a Hoarder to get rid of an item is like asking them to get rid of a loved one. The last characteristic is that Hoarders do not want to waste objects or throw away items that could be seen as a loss of opportunity represented by the object. As far as treatments for Hoarding there have not been many medical advances. The only treatments medical professionals have been able to come up with thus far are psychiatric treatments, interventions by friends and family, and prescription medications.
Although there are medical professionals hoarders could talk to many times they will come up with reasons to avoid getting help such as, cost of treatment, transportation problems, negative views of mental health, low motivation, and lack of public awareness. Future psychotherapy research may focus more on behavioral (exposure treatment) rather than traditional cognitive therapy principles. If you are concerned that you may have some hoarding tendencies there are various types of tests available online to determine if you are a hoarder and how extreme your case might be.
There is a test called Saving Inventory-Revised that only involves a test of 24 questions before revealing your score at the end. Another test that would be useful is called the Clutter Image Rating, this test will give you four picture examples of what hoarding looks like and you compare your house with the pictures given in order to rate at what stage of a Hoarder you are. While researching and writing about this topic I learned many things about hoarding that I had not already known.
There are many things about Hoarding that you cannot learn by just watching a show on television such as the different treatments that are offered and the things required to classify someone as a Hoarder. I have now come to the conclusion after comparing pictures of a family member’s home to those on the Clutter Image Rating website and now knowing the requirements to being a Hoarder that I do in fact have an undiagnosed Hoarder in the family.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ocfoundation.org/hoarding
Frost, R. O. (2010). Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Paxton, M. (2011). The Secret Lives of Hoarders. New York: Penguin Group.