Hoarding disorder

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GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4115
Hoarding disorder

The classification of Hoarding has been changed to be a distinct disorder. Do you think that the increase in people with this disorder is because as a society people have become more isolated from their family and neighbors so it is easier for them to become hoarders without anyone noticing? Do you or anyone you know have a problem with hoarding?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/28/health/understanding-hoarding.html?_r=0

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3186

I don't think it's an increase in people, I think it's an increase in awareness. Let's face it, tv shows (like the one on my network, and others) have brought attention to it in a big way. We get a lot of viewer comments about how people feel like they can finally talk about it now that they know there are others with family members going through it. It was a silent thing for a long time, people didn't get the connection to mental illness and presumed it was just about being "messy".

bunnyfufu's picture
Joined: 10/21/05
Posts: 203

Interesting. . .

I think it is partially that. It is easier to isolate oneself and still get everything we 'need'. But I think it is also due to a consumer culture. So many things are super-sized. Shopping on Black Friday is an adrenaline filled "sport.' Objects and belongings are fetishized in our culture.

I am not an expert about psychology though. And I do wonder what the benefit is in making it a designation. I imagine that a lot of things, like depression and lack of impulse control contribute.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3186

I speak only as someone who has had to watch the show quite a bit. . .the people on it are not materialistic, they are mentally ill. They save crazy things. . .expired food, old toys nobody wants, broken equipment. It's definitely a disorder and not really about the "stuff". One guy saved his mother's empty prescription bottles because he was still traumatized by losing her. Some people are ordering things via shopping networks & web, but lots of them are saving garbage. People who collect, even obsessively, often put a lot more care into the things they collect.

I definitely think it's a disorder and these people need treatment as well as a clean-up.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

I know two people that are hoarders. They are brother and sister and are in their 60's. Each of them grew up so very poor that once they got to be adults with their own money the bought anything and everything they possibly could get their hands on. Even if it does not make sense to keep. I believe it was a lasting consequence of the trauma of not having enough basics as a child. (by basics I mean food and clothing. The sister did not have pads, shampoo, or soap)

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312

I don't think isolation causes hoarding. I think its easier for you to avoid someone interfering with your hoarding if you are isolated, but the mental disorder causing you to be prone to hoarding is still there.

And the isolation I think is kind of a symptom, not a cause. I would imagine those who are prone to hoarding are more likely to guide their lives towards isolation, out of embarrassment or incompatibility. I don't think you become isolated for whatever reason, and then start hoarding.

But thats just my gut feeling. I suppose hoarding could be done in order to fill a void in ones life that would normally be filled by companionship. And if that void didn't exist...that mental behavior would never be 'triggered' I still think you would have to have that mental disorder to begin with though...i don't think isolation can 'create' it.

To me, in my totally unprofessional opinion, the whole thing seems to be one of those spectrum type things. Desire to collect or store stuff, sentimental emotions...those things are naturally occurring traits....most humans feel those urges to some degree or another. These people seem to be on the extreme end with an inability to control those urges.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4115

I have to admit that sometimes I hoard things on a smaller scale. Mostly just boxes of stuff in the garage that when we moved things just kind of get thrown together. I don't have time to go through them and just hate the thought that something important might have gotten tossed in there with everything else so don't want to toss the whole box. I know that I would probably never know if that stuff disappeared I wouldn't ever miss it, but it still would make me a little nervous just getting rid of it. So I can understand a little of what these people feel when people come into their house and just start carting out stuff.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3186

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I have to admit that sometimes I hoard things on a smaller scale. Mostly just boxes of stuff in the garage that when we moved things just kind of get thrown together. I don't have time to go through them and just hate the thought that something important might have gotten tossed in there with everything else so don't want to toss the whole box. I know that I would probably never know if that stuff disappeared I wouldn't ever miss it, but it still would make me a little nervous just getting rid of it. So I can understand a little of what these people feel when people come into their house and just start carting out stuff.

I am the same. . .but I don't think that's the type of thing they're talking about when they classify it as a disorder.

Like, I have piles of old clothes to give away, and if someone offered to just take them and donate them, I'd be thrilled and willing to risk the chance that there might be something I'd want to keep if I went through it.

Boxes I haven't looked at are a different story.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I have to admit that sometimes I hoard things on a smaller scale. Mostly just boxes of stuff in the garage that when we moved things just kind of get thrown together. I don't have time to go through them and just hate the thought that something important might have gotten tossed in there with everything else so don't want to toss the whole box. I know that I would probably never know if that stuff disappeared I wouldn't ever miss it, but it still would make me a little nervous just getting rid of it. So I can understand a little of what these people feel when people come into their house and just start carting out stuff.

Yeah i know that feeling...i get a twinge of it everytime i do any purging. I have become fantastic at telling myself the bold though. I am good at telling myself the bold about things that I deliberately choose to get rid of too, but feel apprehensive about letting go of. I try to actually envision myself in a year...knowing that I won't have an ounce of stress about it at that point and my house has less crap in it too boot. Smile

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I am the same. . .but I don't think that's the type of thing they're talking about when they classify it as a disorder.

I agree with you, but don't you think they are rooted in that same 'instinct' we have, but that hoarders have some sort of mental issue that prevents them from balancing it or reigning it in?

I once saw a special on hoarding a long time ago (mind you from a crappy tv 'magazine' show) and the woman described it as a fear that she would lose a part of herself....that each little thing she has collected over the year becomes deeply associated with her identity.

I think that just sounds like whatever causes us to be sentimental or nostaligic is on overdrive. Same with our instincts to collect or store...in reality, thats a survival instinct isn't it? Privisioning of sorts? I think we are built with a natural instinct to do those things, but again its on overdrive for these people.

Thats why i feel its very spectrum like. I think those are all urges we experience or sound pretty natural. Its just that the typical brain knows how to control them to a practical degree.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

When I think of hoarding, I think of someone who has so much stuff that you can barely walk from one side of a room to the other. Not someone who has some clutter.

bunnyfufu's picture
Joined: 10/21/05
Posts: 203

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I speak only as someone who has had to watch the show quite a bit. . .the people on it are not materialistic, they are mentally ill. They save crazy things. . .expired food, old toys nobody wants, broken equipment. It's definitely a disorder and not really about the "stuff". One guy saved his mother's empty prescription bottles because he was still traumatized by losing her. Some people are ordering things via shopping networks & web, but lots of them are saving garbage. People who collect, even obsessively, often put a lot more care into the things they collect.

I definitely think it's a disorder and these people need treatment as well as a clean-up.

I agree that it is more than being materialistic but I think it is deeply and in a very pure sense materialistic. And I specifically think that the fetishizing of material things is the outward sign of a deeper internal pathology.

Make more sense. I wasn't meaning to say that hoarding is a superficial problem. KWIM?

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I've never seen the show but I think that yes, its very much a mental disorder and I can't say whether or not its on the rise or not as I really don't know. I do think that in general people feel much more out of control in this world ~ so yes, I think that in general disorders or addictions are on the rise as people strive to make sense out of this world or seek to control *something* and that in and of itself can lend itself towards addictive patterns or behaviors, whether that be an eating disorder, drug or alcohol abuse, hoarding, etc etc.

I tend to be the opposite of a hoarder. I loathe clutter and truly enjoy getting rid of things. My kids barely grow out of the clothes that they are in and I'm passing them along to friends. Just last night I passed along a box of baby clothes that my 3 YO had just grown out of. I feel much more in control of my environment when everything is super neat and there are no extraneous boxes or clutter or unused materials. I'm sure that is its own sort of disorder Smile

There was a woman who was a hoarder that my Mom was friends with, she used to work in the children's ministry at the church I grew up in. She died in a fire in her home. They could not get to her due to the piles of things she had hoarded. They could hear her screaming but literally could not navigate the massive piles of things she had collected. So sad.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3186

"KimPossible" wrote:

I agree with you, but don't you think they are rooted in that same 'instinct' we have, but that hoarders have some sort of mental issue that prevents them from balancing it or reigning it in?

I once saw a special on hoarding a long time ago (mind you from a crappy tv 'magazine' show) and the woman described it as a fear that she would lose a part of herself....that each little thing she has collected over the year becomes deeply associated with her identity.

I think that just sounds like whatever causes us to be sentimental or nostaligic is on overdrive. Same with our instincts to collect or store...in reality, thats a survival instinct isn't it? Privisioning of sorts? I think we are built with a natural instinct to do those things, but again its on overdrive for these people.

Thats why i feel its very spectrum like. I think those are all urges we experience or sound pretty natural. Its just that the typical brain knows how to control them to a practical degree.

I'm not sure. Maybe our show just has the extra crazy ones, but those people were hoarding their own pee in bottles, unfixable appliances, clothes they never took the tags off of, etc. Their family members stop coming over because of how extreme it gets.

So...it may be rooted in a natural instinct the way most mental illness is, it springs from some facet of human nature but gets taken to an extreme due to disorder/illness.

But again, I only talk as someone who has seen a lot of these episodes 'cause it's my job, not as any kind of authority.

My in-laws are not hoarders, but their house is filled with ridiculous clutter. But I wouldn't call them hoarders and I think it's just because the task seems overwhelming, they don't even see the clutter for what it is anymore. When we were house-hunting, one place we looked at had random items piled up literally from floor to ceiling in the garage. You couldn't walk in. That is hoarding.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

I've watched Buried Alive before and I kind of see a couple different tendencies. The first is the ones I think are the true hoarders - the ones who impulsively and irrationally collect and never ever purge - the ones with newspapers stacked to the ceiling or books or clothes or other collectibles and whatnot. Then there are the ones whose houses are essentially garbage cans and nothing more. The rooms are stacked high with simply garbage - empty fast food containers, dirty dishes, cigarette butts all over the place, cat feces, human feces in a massive piles overflowing the toilet. I will never be convinced the latter is hoarding as classified as a mental disorder. The first? Yes.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

I have an uncle diagnosed with OCD and as Bi-polar. He is a major hoarder. He keeps EVERYTHING. He ties memories to everything. An empty slupee cup is not trash, it is a memory to taking his grand son to 711 an having fun. People have gone into his house before and cleaned it all out, it was seriously traumatic for him. It is horrible health wise for him as well. At 57 years old he acts more like an 80 year old. The whole thing is very sad, and I believe anyone that has first hand knowledge of it knows it is a mental disease

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"mom3girls" wrote:

The whole thing is very sad, and I believe anyone that has first hand knowledge of it knows it is a mental disease

Agreed.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I'm not sure. Maybe our show just has the extra crazy ones, but those people were hoarding their own pee in bottles, unfixable appliances, clothes they never took the tags off of, etc. Their family members stop coming over because of how extreme it gets.

So...it may be rooted in a natural instinct the way most mental illness is, it springs from some facet of human nature but gets taken to an extreme due to disorder/illness.

But again, I only talk as someone who has seen a lot of these episodes 'cause it's my job, not as any kind of authority.

My in-laws are not hoarders, but their house is filled with ridiculous clutter. But I wouldn't call them hoarders and I think it's just because the task seems overwhelming, they don't even see the clutter for what it is anymore. When we were house-hunting, one place we looked at had random items piled up literally from floor to ceiling in the garage. You couldn't walk in. That is hoarding.

lol That sounds like my parents garage, and they are not hoarders Smile Poor things, my sister has moved many times and the detritus gets left in their garage, and then her husband died and his tools were dumped there to be sold, then the roof leaked so everything got jumbled together......it seems like every time my dad gets a handle on it something else happens to fill it back up again.

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I am the same. . .but I don't think that's the type of thing they're talking about when they classify it as a disorder.

Like, I have piles of old clothes to give away, and if someone offered to just take them and donate them, I'd be thrilled and willing to risk the chance that there might be something I'd want to keep if I went through it.

Boxes I haven't looked at are a different story.

I think like most mental illnesses, there are acceptable degrees to things. Everyone gets sad, but depression is a whole other degree, just like many people have OCD tendencies while not everyone has OCD. I would think this is the same. Many of us have a hard time getting rid of things, but we can do it to keep our homes and lives running smoothly. These people cant. I think the point that something goes from a quirk, or 'normal' to mental illness is the point that it starts effecting the rest of your life.

I think that my MIL could easily swing into a full blown horder very easily. Her house is FULL, to the point that we wont let the kids stay there because it is impossible to clean making it hard on anyone with allergies and a fire hazard. It is not to the point though that the 'public rooms' are too bad. You can still function in the living, kitchen, bathroom, though they are cluttered. She does suffer from depression though and feels very isolated. She is still living with my FIL which is the only thing that I think keeps it from blowing up on her. She gets very stressed when he takes things out of the house though, but every once in awhile she will make a huge effort and fill a garbage bin, but she insists she has to do it by herself, and it takes her forever because she is terrified she might throw out something important by accident. She tells this story all the time about how she once through out her daughters earing that was in a bag of garbage on her bed, like it was the end of the world.....to which I say, why the heck was it in the garbage to begin with??

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

Until I started watching Hoarders, I wasn't familiar with a lot of the tendencies, I often thought it was just a situation where they didn't throw things out and it got out of control and they needed help cleaning up. It's so beyond that. Some of the people I have seen have mental illnesses that are long term and have been known since maybe childhood and sometimes it's a reaction from a traumatic event. Many times, they have had a spouse die or a child die at young ages and it spurs this reaction. It's very sad.

Joined: 05/13/02
Posts: 414

I definitely agree that those extreme cases of hoarding are generally the result of mental illness. It's so sad, and hard to wrap my head around, the people who won't even let the crew throw out old, moldy food. However, I have seen some episodes where it seems more like a case of things getting out of control, and it just keeps building.

I do have to say - I sure feel a lot better about my house after watching an episode Wink

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312

So...it may be rooted in a natural instinct the way most mental illness is, it springs from some facet of human nature but gets taken to an extreme due to disorder/illness.

yeah this is really all I meant. I did't mean to make it sound like it wasn't extreme. The woman i was talking about in that other post...at that moment she was talking about old band-aids. She kept them stuck to her bathroom wall.

My in-laws are not hoarders, but their house is filled with ridiculous clutter. But I wouldn't call them hoarders and I think it's just because the task seems overwhelming, they don't even see the clutter for what it is anymore. When we were house-hunting, one place we looked at had random items piled up literally from floor to ceiling in the garage. You couldn't walk in. That is hoarding.

I agree. There is a difference between "I literally can not part with this stuff" and "I can't be bothered"

My husband is on the habitat for humanity board here and they just had to go to a house that they had to reclaim from one of the people because she couldn't pay her mortgage anymore. They went to examine the place after she "moved out" and it was a disaster....really terrible and they left stuff everywehre. He said there were about twenty or so laundry detergent bottles just all over the floor in the basement. Really? You can't be bothered to throw out your empty detergent bottles???? Which was really the least of it all...it was just awful!