Compulsive Hoarding – Who is A Compulsive Hoarder?

Understanding compulsive hoarding is one of the basic steps a person needs to take in order to help a loved one. However, there are a number of myths surrounding the disorder, making it difficult for them to determine what

Parked next to a hoarder.

Parked next to a hoarder. (Photo credit: Aric McKeown)

is right or wrong while in the process. Some of these myths include:
• Compulsive hoarders are lazy
Compulsive hoarding is not as a result of laziness. It is caused by a number of factors ranging from psychological factors, life changing events, emotional stress, abnormal brain development and brain damage. Since it is a mental health issue, looking for therapists to help hoarders is the best solution.
• Hoarders can be helped by someone else clearing their homes.
While the intention of the family members to clear out the hoarder’s home, it is only counterproductive. The hoarders will only feel more depressed, and this will make them want to acquire and store more items. It is important for the family and friends to understand that the initiative must come from the hoarders, who need to learn how to let go of things and how to stop acquiring more items.
• Compulsive hoarding affects Middle-aged women.
The disorder can affect any person regardless of gender, age and race. Hoarding usually starts between 11 and 15 years, and if untreated can get worse. Most hoarders usually get professional help when they are older.
• Hoarders love trash.
To many hoarders, all their possessions are valuable, even when the rest of the family consider them as trash. In the hoarders’ mind, the items may be valuable at a future date or may have a sentimental value, which would get

lost if they are discarded.  Hoarders also have a problem with categorizing or organizing their possessions, even taking up living space. Some of them are overwhelmed by the clutter, and this compels them to let it accumulate to the point of abandoning the room altogether.

• Hoarders love possessions more than their money
To many people, hoarders love their possessions; however the truth is that hoarders see these possessions as an extension of their identity. It is this reason that makes them defensive every time a family member or a friend tries to discard their possessions. Sometimes, they also get embarrassed over their possessions and that is why they may not be as welcoming to friends and family as they would like. For this reason, it is important that the family and friends consider these factors before they judge their loved ones.
With these factors in mind, it is important that family and friends practice patience in dealing with the hoarders because the progress is usually slow. They should also make sure that they have involved the hoarder in decision making and decluttering process so that they do not end up re-cluttering the space all over again.
Family can also consider looking for treatment options for their loved ones. Some of these include cognitive behaviour therapy as well as the medicine. Getting into family therapy can also go a long way to help the family members understand hoarding and ways to help their loved ones.

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