Monday, October 13, 2008


Hoarding is more than just a messy house. It is a real psychological problem. There are usually a few things that help define hoarding.

1) Buying or picking up free items and refusal to part with them or even move them. Many times they are of useless or have limited value and usually aren't being used for what they are intended.
2)The person's home is so cluttered that you can use the spaces as they are intended.
3) significant limitations in functioning and distress over their situation they are in because of the hoarding.

I recently saw a show on TV called "How Clean is Your House". They had a contest looking for the messiest house. Most of the pictures if not all of the pictures they showed for contestants were that of hoarders. Not one time during the show (unless I missed it) did they mention hoarding. The "winners" of the contest were a mother and her two daughters that had a terrible hoarding problem. The entire house was packed full of junk. The mother was the worse and they showed many times her refusal to part with something and her stress over the situation. I am hoping that they also got them all some counseling along with their new house make over so that they will not fall back into their same patterns,but they never mentioned anything like that. It was very disturbing to me that they never mentioned hoarding on the show at all or talked about these people needing some real treatment.
Treatment is key to making a change for these people. Counseling should be for sure and many times medication is also used in theapy. That along with help from a professional organizer can make dramatic changes in a hoarders life.
Hoarders want to change (most of the time)and many times try on their own and fail and then they fall into deeper depressions and give up even more and their situations can become life threatening.
When we work with clients who are hoarders we need to assess to what level their hoarding is. Is there a place to sit in their house? Are there pathways in the rooms to get to things? Are doorways blocked? Are there pets in the house and if there is, is there animal urine and feces? (Many times animals can't get to a door to be let out)

Hoarding is a very big problem and should not be looked at as just a "messy house".
If you think you are a hoarder you can go to this web site and look at the "clutter hoarding scale" and evaluate yourself. (National Study Group for Chronic Disorganization)
Just as there is help for other problems, there is help for hoarders and they should be no means ever feel like their situation is hopeless.

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