Written by Linda Clevenger of Organization Direct
The topic of Hoarding is a touchy one. Not many will admit that they are a Hoarder or have Hoarding tendencies so let’s talk about the difference.
As you may know, hoarding is listed as one of the diagnostic criteria for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) in the DSM V and this increased the public’s awareness of the disorder and it can be treated.
The big question though is this – Are you a Hoarder or a Collector?
If you are a collector, you look for specific things to “collect”. Back in the day you may have collected beanie babies or barbie dolls or stamps because of their perceived future value. I remember collecting Hess Trucks and Holiday Barbie’s for our kids when they were little.
Collectors value the items that they have gathered and arrange them into categories and showcase them to be displayed. They are proud of their collections and want to share them with others. I remember that my girls always kept their Barbie dolls in the box and displayed them in their bedrooms. If you are a collector, you are able to make a decision to eliminate or donate items from your home. You don’t feel the need to keep thing “just because”.
A hoarder is different than a collector. Hoarders gather random items because they like them, they are on sale and/or they may be useful to them in the future. They stack items on shelves and in bins and boxes without organizing them. They save items because they may “need them in the future”.
A hoarder usually struggles to eliminate items because they can find a use for everything or value in everything. They view their space differently and if they start eliminating items from their home, they can feel lost and distressed because of the lack of items surrounding them.
While there are Five Levels or hoarding. It really become a problem when it impedes your daily ability to function. This can mean unkept living spaces, doorways that are blocked, stairways become hazardous and their idea of organizing means moving items from one stack to another without being able to eliminate anything.
I know first hand what the worst kind of Hoarder looks like. I have a family member who fits into that category. We tried to help her get through the clutter but there was just too much of it and it became a health concern for everyone who tried to help. Eventually, the home was purchased and remodeled and there is a very nice family living in it now.
While I am sad that my family member lost her home, I am happy that it wasn’t torn down since I have childhood memories from the home.
Hoarding is stressful for a family both emotionally and physically. If you have someone that you love who is a hoarder, I encourage you to be understanding of the situation and help them through the elimination process. It may be a long process but will be well worth your effort.