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  • Writer's pictureMJ

Ask me anything: hoarding

Reader Question: I think my mom is a hoarder. She says she just has a lot of stuff accumulated over a lifetime. Isn’t that the same?

My Answer: First I want to say that hoarding is not caused by laziness, a lack of standards, a lack of intelligence, or a lack of responsibility. Compulsive hoarding is a chronic illness, and a variety of interventions/techniques are necessary for treatment. A hoarder may experience severe reactions if their items are discarded without their consent. It is important for family and friends to obtain consent, and be supportive when their loved one seeks help.

A person who hoards:

  • Has dysfunctional beliefs about items,

  • Has exaggerated emotional attachments to possessions,

  • Has difficulty with organization,

  • Has poor insight into their behavior,

  • May have experienced significant trauma in their life,

  • May have inherited the disorder, and

  • May have other mental illnesses.

Some signs of compulsive hoarding:

  • Difficulty getting rid of items.

  • A large amount of clutter that makes it difficult to use furniture or move around easily.

  • Losing important items such as money or bills in the clutter.

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the number of possessions that have taken over a space.

  • Not inviting family or friends into the home due to shame or embarrassment.

  • Refusing to let people into the home to make repairs.

  • Being unable to stop taking free items (promotional items, sugar packets etc.).

  • Buying things because they are a bargain.


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