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Compulsive Hoarding Disorder

Updated on March 15, 2012

Today is going to be the day to start my clean up - clear out the excess stuff I hear You say it is junk/rubbish . That is not true ....

Everything I have has special meaning to me however as we need to be able to sit on the lounge I realize I must let go of some of my things - after a cup of coffee - I need time to think about where to start .....

OK I have had my coffee so now It is time to start ......

I look at the over full shelf & pick up a piece of paper ... It is a from our cruise on the Sun Princess to Tasmania & beings back memories - I can't throw that out .....

What about the bit of cardboard I think desperately as I cannot get rid of my stuffed toys or the deflated balloon that says I Love You from my husband but a piece of cardboard can go I think ... until I turn it over and see it is from Hogs Breath...

So what you say .... Well We went there for a meal with relatives & my Uncle has now died so how can I throw out that little bit of cardboard that reminds me of him every time I pick it up ...

This is hard going & stressful & I need a break but first I must throw one item out so I look almost in despair for one thing to part with out of thew pile & yes I have found something that can go in the bin ...

What is it you ask hopefully ----- An old shopping docket ! I don't need it so in the bin it goes & I can have my coffee break after the stressful time I have just had .

I am not alone with this as Compulsive hoarding affects approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the US so it is a major problem .

Time for a sort out
Time for a sort out

It is very difficult writing this & showing you the photo of my shelf in a messy state however if I can even help one person understand their partner with this problem that would be great .

I try to sort it out however I find a reason to keep everything for some reason or another .

There is a bag of stuff outside for a refuge that needs clothes etc so that is a big start

On tv there was a section on Compulsive Hoarding which is when I heard for the first time that it is a clinical problem which I guess tied in with the fact that I have severe Adult ADHD means I really need help.

Memories come crashing through when I see these items
Memories come crashing through when I see these items

What is Compulsive Hoarding Disorder

Compulsive Hoarding Disorder is where people Hoard an excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them & throw them away .. When people hoard over a period of time this often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter, old newspapers ,books , fridges and much more .

This can also make a house smell so bad it makes you want to throw up when you visit the place . As the person with the problem lives there they get used to the smells .

Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets often in unsanitary conditions.

Not my place but belongs to a Compulsive Hoarder
Not my place but belongs to a Compulsive Hoarder

Can compulsive hoarding disorder be cured

Many people that have the compulsive hoarding disorder will not agree that there is a problem .

However once someone with the compulsive hoarding disorder can agree they do have a problem then help is at hand

Cognitive behavior therapy is the most common form of psychotherapy used to treat hoarding. As part of cognitive behavior therapy, you may:

  • Explore why you feel compelled to hoard
  • Learn to organize and categorize possessions to help you decide which ones to discard
  • Improve your decision-making skills
  • Declutter your home during in-home visits by a therapist or professional organizer
  • Learn and practice relaxation skills
  • Attend family or group therapy
  • Be encouraged to consider psychiatric hospitalization if your hoarding is severe
  • Have periodic visits or ongoing treatment to help you keep up healthy habits

Helping a person with Compulsive Hoarding Disorder

Please show love and support to your family members who have this problem.

Let them talk to you without criticism

Don't throw their stuff out without asking

Offer to help them - one shelf at a time

Don't laugh when they struggle to throw something out

Praise them when they let go of something

Bring them a drink while they are sorting out their precious belongs

Offer to go with them to seek help

Do you have Compulsive Hoarding Disorder

Do you have Compulsive Hoarding Disorder ?

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    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Southern Spain

      Thanks for visiting DreamerMeg. I must admit I do find it easier to get rid of stuff if I donate it to charity rather than the idea of just throwing it away .

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      The flylady covers this on her site and her information is very useful, as is yours. She tries to help people look at "unneeded stuff" in a different way. For instance, if it is something you could donate to charity or goodwill, she talks about "blessing others" with it and a number of people have commented that this has helped them to move "stuff" out of their houses.

    • MomsTreasureChest profile image


      5 years ago

      Great Hub with lots of useful information, thanks for sharing. In the U.S. there's a tv show called Hoarders on a couple times a week, and I'm sure I've seen in their piles some of the same things that I have that I can't give away! I wish the experts were a little more compassionate on the show. I think if you don't have tendencies toward it you can't really understand how the mind is working.

    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Southern Spain

      sparkleyfinger, Thanks for dropping by , I have a severe case of Adult ADHD and believe they are connected . I find it really hard to throw things out, gave a lot to the op shop . I am bad with plastic bags !

    • sparkleyfinger profile image

      Lynsey Harte 

      5 years ago from Glasgow

      great hub... i am a selective hoarder, in that I have TONNES of collections.. shoes, bags, nail varnish, make up... but my boyfriend is quite bad with keeping plastic bags and packaging materials :S

      Interestingly, he is looking at trying to get a diagnosis of ADHD, and its interesting to see whether the two are connected...

    • Andy McGuire profile image

      Andy McGuire 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great work. I've had extensive experience with hoarders, and it's something I still don't quite fully understand.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      6 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Wow! I commend you for sharing this and am right there with you. Everything has meaning and it pains me to let go of it. Thank you for sharing these ideas! Up, useful and interesting!

    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern Spain

      Hi, Thanks for the visit midget38, I don't go as far as the neighbor fortunatly but it is hard throwing things out which I am trying to do as I also write on here ! We leave for Singapore next month!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      My mum-in-law had a neighbor who had this problem. she kept everything, including rotten meat. The smell was unimaginable. Her kids tried to seek help but she was a little stubborn. Thanks for sharing, will pass this on to raise awareness.

    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern Spain

      I accomlished something today , I threw out sandshoes I wore at Tunnel creek Caves a year ago

    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern Spain

      Thanks for the visit Stephanie ,It is difficult to have this &others to understand it . I have to fight it & find it frustrating every day .

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      6 years ago from USA

      Someone who does not have this disorder usually finds it very difficult to understand. I have a nephew who is a hoarder and saves every paper cup, styrofoam container and piece of paper. It's very difficult to convince him to throw anything away, and relatives do get frustrated with him. Your article brings up some good and useful points for that might help others to help him.

    • sjwigglywoo profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      Great article, I do tend to keep stuff thinking I will need it one day. I then have a mad clear out and yes I end up looking for something I'm convinced that I have only to remember two hours later I threw it out!

    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern Spain

      Thanks Docmo , It is an annoying problem to have & tactful help is needed + some praise when we let go off things ....

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      6 years ago from UK

      I know someone close who has this problem and this is a really helpful article on this issue. We are working though it step by step but as you say it can be an exhausting journey!!voted up!

    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern Spain

      Thanks Annart , It is hard & I struggle daily to let go of things I don't really need let alone special things.

    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern Spain

      Thanks for your visit Gemma ! I have struggled with this since I was a child, Never realised it was a disease .

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      I have huge difficulty throwing things away. Usually because of sentimental connections. I know I should get rid of some things though, so very few things go now and then! Voted up, interesting and funny. Great read.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Good hub mum, ben calls me a hoarder all the time.. xx

    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern Spain

      Thanks cloverleafarm , I will have a read of your hub . I also have severe Adult ADHD ! People need to know more about the disease ....

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 

      6 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Enjoyed reading your hub. There has been so much talk lately about hoarder. I too, am a hoarder, but also have OCD...try that one on for

      I took my OCD, and created a cleaning business, so at least I put it to good use.

      I wrote a hub about being a hoarder with ocd, if you're interested, check it out.

      Voted you up. More people need to learn about this as a disease, and stop thinking of them as just "disgusting".

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Kate P 

      6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      My uncle is a compulsive hoarder. Though I've only met him a few times in my life, I thought he was quite a character, and honestly as a kid, I didn't think about the hoarding too much. He was and is very wealthy (inheritance) and very eccentric, and also a hoarder of newspapers and reading materials, which line every hallway (like tunnels) and are piled everywhere. He's still one of my favorite relatives because he is a character, but wow--that man has some issues.

      Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern Spain

      Michael, Thanks for the visit , I love finding items from way back . I don't have many as we are traveling in a caravan now !

    • freecampingaussie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Southern Spain

      thanks Susanmb , I am struggling with it myself but no where near as bad as many others . I hope to share this article with as many people as possible.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You discussed this very sad and debilitating condition in a kind and sensitive way. I'm sure your hub will be helpful to someone struggling with this problem. Voted up.

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 

      6 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      I saw a show on TV with complusive hoarders freecampingaussie and I was amazed! Keeping treasures & momentos from experiences are really important & I don't consider that hoarding. Recently we were having a clean out & I found some items from a visit to the UK when the children were very little. The memories came flooding back and we have a good time talking about that holiday again. So I 'filed' the items and no doubt I will rediscover it again in a few years and remember it all again! Thank you for an interesting hub. Cheers Michael


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