Are You a Hoarder? Quiz

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A simple quiz

We all like to gather and keep things. Whether to decorate our homes or remind us of happy times, we enjoy the material things of this world. There is a difference between collecting, storing and hoarding. Hoarding is an uncontrolled compulsion. Answer YES or NO to the following questions to see if you have trouble controlling your compulsion to hoard things.

Do you…

1. buy, salvage or save duplicate items?

2. store things in places typically not used for storage? (shower or bathtub, cars)

3. purchase things that sit in unopened boxes for months?

4. feel embarrassed to let visitors into your home because of your excess stuff?

5. alter your lifestyle because your things have taken over your living spaces? (Can you cook and eat in your kitchen? Shower in your bathroom? Use the toilet?)

6. have family and friends who have expressed concern over the amount of things in your home?

7. think that emergency personnel would have trouble entering your home to help you? (Are there clear living spaces and walkways?)

8. get sick from colds or have breathing problems due to your unhealthy environment?

9. have to struggle to get through doors in your home because of stuff blocking the way?

10. believe you are a hoarder?

11. want to stop hoarding but can’t?

12. believe you aren’t a hoarder at all?

13. get upset if someone tries to throw away your things?

14. believe that no one else understands the value of things, especially your things?

15. try to dispose of things only to retrieve them from the trash bin?

16. feel great anxiety when trying to get rid of things?

17. find you can’t resist saving things?

18. have thoughts about buying or salvaging things that keep you awake at night?

19. spend most of your time gathering, saving, collecting or storing things?

20. give up trying to keep up with taking care of your things?

This is not an official diagnostic quiz, of course, but you can see that if you respond mostly YES to these questions, you probably suffer from hoarding.

How serious is it?

As the scientific community learns more about hoarding, the definitions and treatments surely will evolve. At this time, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization recognizes five levels of hoarding on its diagnostic scale:

Level I-Low

Household clutter is standard. No safety or health issues.

Level II-Guarded

One exit is blocked. Evidence of poor animal control. Household functions impaired due to clutter.

Level III-Elevated

Interior items stored outdoors due to lack of space. Clutter limits access to doorways and exits. Rotting or expired foods. Evidence of insects, dust, spider webs. Dirty laundry. Inappropriate use of rooms for storage.

Level IV-High

The above infractions plus: Unusable space, appliances. Damage to building from water, animals, pests. Improperly stored combustibles.

Level V-Severe

Non-functioning toilets, sinks and showers. Presence of human excrement. Hazardous conditions due to chemicals, expired foods and medication and poor animal control. Extreme indoor and outdoor clutter. Irreparable damage to building.

Assessment categories

1. Structure and zoning. Is there safe access through doorways and exits? Is the building structurally safe?

2. Animals and pets. Are animals safe and healthy and within the number of legally allowed pets in a household? Food, water and feces control?

3. Household functions. Can rooms and appliances be used for appropriate purposes?

4. Health and safety. Sanitary conditions? Medications properly stored? Evidence of vermin and insects?

5. Personal protection equipment. Does the environment require protective gear in order to be entered?

These are very general definitions. You can find detailed definitions on the Institute for Challenging Disorganization's website (challengingdisorganization.org). I highly recommend checking it out. You can download free manuals and find resources including organization specialists.

When the hoard reaches dangerous proportions, it is time for a forced clean up.

Poll

What are your hoarding habits?

  • My home is clean, tidy and clutter-free.
  • There is some clutter on occasion but it is easily straightened out when necessary.
  • I could use some organization to help with the constant clutter.
  • Rooms in the house are used for storage and not their intended use. No cooking in ktichen, no sleeping in bedroom, no showers, etc.
  • At least one entry or exit is blocked.
  • There are duplicates and non-working items.
  • Household items meant for indoor use spill outside onto patio or lawn.
  • There is filth due to lack of cleaning or insufficient pet care.
See results without voting

Take the poll

Click on the response that applies to you. If more than one applies, vote again.

Thought for hoarding habits

1. It is not saving money to store things that go bad. In fact, it is throwing good money away to store up sale items. Better to buy what you need at full cost and use it right away than to stock up on sale items because nearly everything has an expiration date. Even toothpaste. Hair color. We threw out a lot of expired products that she felt was saving her money to store.

2. You aren't "wasting" when you throw food away because food, for example, goes back into this good, green earth in one form or another. It will decompose in the refuse heap in the landfill or get pooped out and make its way through the waste management system and into the earth. It all goes back to the earth where it will resume its place in the food cycle.

3. Putting things into the recycling bin is better than your storing them. You may never get to "recycle" those things as craft items so better to let them get remade in a processing plant. You are making your house a landfill to keep things without using them.

4. Let your unused things bless the lives of others by donating them to charities instead of collecting dust in your house. You're not "getting rid" but you are sharing. Even if you return things to decompose into the earth, they are going back to whence they came. They will return in another product form.

5. Memories are in your mind not in the souvenirs you keep. Be selective in what you keep.

6. Look around you and see what your energy is attracting into your life. Like attracts like. Throw out the trash immediately.

7. We live in an electronic age so you no longer need to keep any papers, magazines, etc. Retrieval is instantaneous. Information gets outdated quickly. Go digital, even with pics.
8. Things don't bless you or bring you joy or love you back. If you had a fire and all of your things burned, you'd see that you still will live a happy, fulfilled life without the burden of your "things."
9. Keeping all this junk is hurting you, physically, emotionally and psychologically. Liberate yourself. Health is wealth. These things are not your friends. Don't use them as a replacement for love and friendship in your life.

10. Make room for new things. When you clear out your home, you'll be able to bring in new things with new energy.

11. It's okay to want things and to have them. But too much is not good. If you get rid of your old junk, you'll enjoy bringing in new things into your life to enjoy for a time. Then, allow them to go back into the world to make others happy. Attract new things again. It's a cycle of discovery and sharing.

Helpful books

Digging Out: How to help a hoarder
Digging Out: How to help a hoarder

This hub is excerpted from this book. Kindle version only 1.99 cents.

 

More by this Author


6 comments

Raine Sky profile image

Raine Sky 3 years ago from Saint Louis, MO.

Great post. I love the quiz. I feel sorry for hoarders because I feel that people who suffer with this disorder has depression & anxiety and hoarding is a way for them to release those emotions.


Lori P. profile image

Lori P. 3 years ago from Southern California USA Author

Thank you for reading, and yes you're right about hoarders having an underlying issue to resolve. Helping your loved one who hoards is emotionally challenging but it can be done in a manner that lessens the trauma for the hoarder.


TinasTreasures profile image

TinasTreasures 2 years ago from California

If you want to help a hoarder you don't get rid of their stuff without their permission. It only makes them hoard more because they feel more insecure and often the clutter is masking an emotional problem.


Lori P. profile image

Lori P. 2 years ago from Southern California USA Author

You're absolutely right. When we sat my aunt down to discuss the cleaning that would take place, she said she wanted to be the one to make those decisions but we told her that she was incapable of making those decisions for herself and that we would help. Of course, we kept all that she really loved (her collections of which there were many, sentimental items, etc.) We told her that we kept all of her beloved items in storage--which we did. Everything is still being stored to this day. BUT, we would toss anything that was a danger to her health and safety. She could not argue with that. We would donate anything that she had in triplicate or more, and she agreed to that as well. She was thrilled with her new clean home while having the peace of mind that her things were safely kept in storage.

She has never gone to check on them, but as God is my witness, everything is still there. Paying for that storage unit is worth her peace of mind.

Psychologists now believe that curing a person of hoarding and its underlying issue can be a lifelong challenge. Most revert to their hoarding ways. It takes vigilance. But my aunt is proud of her clean environment and much happier even though she still can't resist keeping little pieces of junk here and there. We don't make a big deal of it. It will take years for her to hoard to a dangerous level again.


Claudia Mathews profile image

Claudia Mathews 19 months ago

I love watching Extreme Hoarders on tv. The phycology behind the behavior is fascinating. Looking at what makes people do the things they do can be quite interesting, yet often difficult to relate to or understand. I've been in some pretty cluttered homes. Some that are just cluttered in every nook and cranny by too much stuff that was bought and never used and or keeping stuff that used to have a purpose, but no longer does. Most of the time the clutter I see is plain garbage and its everywhere. Looking at homes like that or the ones on the hoarding shows definitely inspires me and helps me to keep making the effort needed to keep my home clean and clutter free. This is a great hub and could really help some people.


Lori P. profile image

Lori P. 18 months ago from Southern California USA Author

Thank you, Claudia! I hope this really helps someone. It's been quite an experience.

The reality of a hoarding mind is that one person's trash is another's treasure. What we deem valuable is subjective but the hoarder sees value in e-v-e-r-y thing.

My ebook "Digging Out: How to help a hoarder" won the Bellaonline 2014 Best Self Help book award! So thrilled!

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