A hoarding disorder is different than collecting items of value or special interest. It is a compulsive behavior that prevents a person from discarding items that are worthless.
Hoarding disorder is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a "mental disorder". It is estimated that 2 to 5 percent of the population has this type of compulsive behavior.
A "hoarder" purchases, acquires, and saves items that have little or no value. Most of us have a drawer or closet in which we keep extra "stuff". We think we may need an item in the future - so we save it. But, it is of no emotional significance.
With a hoarding disorder, which may be mild to severe, an individual cannot part with even a useless, valueless item. They have an excessive attachment to possessions.
You may be a hoarder:
It is believed that there is a possible genetic connection, that is, it runs in families. But, maybe it is a learned disorder. For example, your parents were hoarders and you learned from them.
The television show on the History Channel called "American Pickers" looks for collectors of valuable items.
However, the majority of their valuable findings are hidden among worthless items. They do not show the living areas of these potential hoarders, but, if they did, I suspect they would be similarly cluttered.
Most who suffer from this compulsive behavior started at an early age. Because one of the treatments for the disorder is antidepressants, it must be related to OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). OCD is also treated with antidepressants.
I found two treatments for hoarding disorder.
Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) appeals to the intellect of the "hoarder". It teaches them to gradually discard items without becoming stressed and anxious. As their skills improve, decision-making, and even organization is slowly introduced.
The other treatment is antidepressant medications. They do not provide a cure - just control the behavior.
Many "hoarders" live alone in isolation and loneliness. Their co-workers may never know about their compulsive behavior. They have no visitors as that would result in shame and embarrassment.
Being a family member living with a hoarder can lead to conflicts and marital problems. It definitely can put a strain on any marriage. Children living with a hoarder means not having friends over to the house due to humiliation.
There is another serious effect of hoarding. Cluttered rooms and blocked doorways are a fire hazard. Renters may face eviction.
I'll only mention two, but the list is long. The first is "animal hoarding". We've all been exposed via the news to homes that are overrun with cats and/or dogs. The animals are often underfed and there is usually animal feces throughout the house. I've heard about houses with over 50 cats as residents.
Interestingly, there is a name for book hoarding. It is "Bibliomania". The person collects books that have no intrinsic value. Often, multiple copies of the same book are purchased. The collection eventually exceeds the capacity of the home.
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