Image copied from Creative Commons
I'm pretty sure almost everyone knows someone in their circle of friends or family who is a hoarder. For me, it is an uncle. Your initial reaction when walking into the space of a hoarder may be shock and disbelief. Many may think hoarding is a quick fix by simply cleaning out the home for the person. Not so fast! Hoarding is a real mental illness. I remember when attempting to clear out the home was attempted with my uncle. It was a total waste of time. The home was almost immediately refilled with the items. Staff at the Mayo Clinic defines hoarding as:
"Hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. Hoarding often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets often in unsanitary conditions. Hoarding, also called compulsive hoarding and compulsive hoarding syndrome, may be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But many people who hoard don't have other OCD-related symptoms.People who hoard often don't see it as a problem, making treatment challenging. But intensive treatment can help people who hoard understand their compulsions and live safer, more enjoyable lives."
Hoarding is no laughing matter. It is not the time to be judgmental. Hoarding can lead to the person living in a dangerous environment, make it difficult to impossible for friends and family to visit, and even create debt problems from the excessive purchasing of items. Working with a hoarder has to be handled in the most sensitive and patient manner as possible. When a hoarder makes up his/her mind to get help and with proper therapy, hoarding can get under control. Hoarding is usually triggered by a traumatic event in a person's life. If this can be pinpointed and understood, it is a great starting point to recovery!