Diagnosing of the Hoarder

Post date: Feb 25, 2015 11:53:45 AM

Signs of clutter and hoarding are generally quite obvious to those around the ‘sufferer’ – or if you prefer ‘practitioner’. In most cases, homes and rooms are visual chaos: piles of papers on most surfaces, work surfaces invisible under the stuff that covers them, and overflowing storage. Alongside the visual there are common factors: things go missing, time is spent and wasted looking for things, more arrives into the home on a regular basis – whether from shops, car boot sales, charity shops, or from other people..

Language and excuses used include: ‘It’ll come in useful someday’, ‘I couldn’t resist it’, ‘I know where everything is – really’, ‘that cost me a lot of money’ ‘if I had more time, I know exactly where I want things to go’, ‘ I could make something really fun with that’ or ‘I couldn’t part with Aunt Dora’s teapot collection’!

What about the habits of the hoarder? There are four main types of hoarding behaviour which I will explore over my next few blogs. Some hoarders exhibit several types or habits of hoarding – many have a predominant one. But for all hoarders there is the basic problem of more ‘stuff’ coming into a house all the time and very little leaving it. Every kind of hoarder shops, collects, saves and gathers. Many become attached to the things in their homes and associate most items with memories and people.

The common problems I have found are that hoarding puts a strain on relationships – primarily with a spouse but also with children if a parent is a hoarder. Families can hardly function if there is nowhere to sit or put anything down or if life is a cycle of frenzied searching for lost items. Most people do not recognise the effect clutter has on their mental health and it is only when ‘stuff’ leaves the house that a sense of relief is felt and experienced. 100% of my clients give testimony to the feeling of lightening and easing of mental strain when they have parted with amounts of clutter.

Let me also say that, in my work as a declutterer, it is very important that I am not judgemental and that clients, who may feel a huge amount of shame, know that I am unshockable and will not be judging their behaviour. Rather I help them to clear their space and to suggest ways to break hoarding habits and avoid the cycle of clutter in the future.

If you are curious about what type of hoarder you may be, check back in a while when I reveal my four main types of hoarding behavior that I have identified!