Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thinking Tuesday.....Hoarding.

I wanted to start this a couple of months ago and honestly--I forgot! This is my thinking girl and I wanted to start a Thinking Girl Tuesday and blog about various things. While Home decorating and home and family in general are dear to my heart--I do work in Social Services and come across all kinds of things that frustrate me, amaze me, make me sad, angry, happy and even just bewildered. Its always a learning field--something new almost daily. I want my blog to be about everything in my life--my home and family--job, things that matter to me and to our world....not just one thing. I dont mind sharing some personal things of my life--if it will help another human being. I like some of the themes I've seen people do on their blogs--and well..this is going to be mine. I hope you come back often because You just never know what you will find!

Soooo, onto this tuesdays topic. This came up at work today. We have many clients that are what we call "hoarders". What is a hoarder? The definition I found is--"collecting and putting things away in a guarded manner". I think that is a pretty good description. Here is more---

"Hoarding is a problem that is asked about frequently in connection with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We can define hoarding as acquiring and keeping objects to such an extent that they begin to impair the normal use of one's living space. Most of the time, non-hoarders do not think the saved objects have little or any intrinsic value. However, it is also possible that a hoarder is a collector as well. There are other disorders sometimes associated with hoarding including obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). However, in most cases, it is likely that the individual hoarder has a variation of OCD."

I agree with this 100%. I also think its a form of Compulsiveness. I'm working with about 3 families that are going thru this right now. Some you can approach easily--others you have to find a way to bring this topic up without offending them. A person in my line of work--first is always threat to begin with--so finding a way to "bond" or unite with them is paramount. I have one lady that truly needs to get rid of things--its a fire hazard, its unhealthy, and well--her place is way to small for whats going on in there! When I first approached her about it--I learned someone before me-actually took something that had extreme sentimental value to this lady. I never ever want to "take" something from someone that they want or need. I wouldnt do it to myself--why would I to them? I've learned with her-to approach her gently and guide her to thinks that I know have no meaning--such as to many toys--to many cups..etc. But talk about compulsive....when i questioned why the need for so many soda cups--(the kind you get a gas stations) I found out--some of those cups held certain memories for her..like a first date--or the day she took her daughter somewhere special. So even while I thought it had no meaning-to her it did. We comprimised and I was able to get a few of those cups from her.

I think hoarding has deep roots for many of those that do it. In order to help try and fix the problem--you truly have to get to the root of why they are doing it--whats the underlying need? Were they poor as children, was the woman from an abusive relationship...was there abuse of any kind? Many many reasons--even mental illness. I think the key is to first get to know the person that has this issue--figure out how you can best approach them--and bond with them...and then--gently help them learn as to why this may be occuring. Once you do that--you should be able to safely guide them thru slowly dismantling all this "stuff". You can help teach them what is need--what is memory, what can be donated or even tossed. Think about this--I'm sure each of us has someone either thru our work--or personal lives--that has this struggle. I hope this helps and makes each of us think as we go about our daily life!

14 Thanks for your comments!:

squawmama said...

OMG... I think I am a hoarder or maybe I am just a pack rat or maybe I am just a collector or maybe???? That was a fun post and very interesting... I really enjoyed it Dawnie... Have a great night...


Sue said...

I once had issues with buying lots of clothes..
I even had a bedroom turned into a closet. I asked a therapist about it and she told me for everything I buy new give something away..That's what I do now..With just about everything..I only keep the things that matter the most, the rest I give away..Its very liberating.

If you keep everything, pretty soon you have no room for people..Things crowd out the people you love.

Thanx for visitng my site..Why don't I write a novel in my first comment?..lol

Unknown said...

Oh my gosh Dawn,my MIL makes her sons and us daughter-in-laws crazy. She is one person and has a 3 bedroom 2 bath house with a garage and you have to be careful how you move through every space. It is ridiculous! We try to help her see that keeping check boks and paperbacks from the 60's is silly. She has food in her cupboards that have expired 2 yrs ago. She has dishes and glassware enough for 5 families, easily. Her art room and garage are so awful you cannot maneuver in them at all. She is always complaining about money and yet she has 5 of everything. We think it is because when she loses something in the mess she forgets she already owns one and buys another. She is 73 and in good health so she can do something about this if she wanted to.
I am glad you stopped by my blog.
Tammy ;D

Shelley said...

This was an interesting post - made me think about my mother in law who is the knick knack queen. My hubby and his brothers joke gently w/ her about it - but she can tell you the story about every knick knack and the meaning it has to her. I suggested to her to photograph them and put them in a book for a keepsake memory and then give some of them away at a garage sale. She's thinking about it.... wish us luck!

Tootsie said...

I have a girlfriend that hoards. It is a horrible thing to watch. I feel so bad for those who suffer this. For her it is a form of control...as she suffers trama from a sexual assault years ago...and is afraid of things now...so she comforts herself with "things"

Sit A Spell said...

I have a hard time throwing things away, unless broken. I grew up under parents from the depression and was taught...keep it, you might need it someday. In recent yrs I've been sorting, tossing and donating.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." It's difficult to reach someone who hoards. I also think there is a difference between people who let their collectibles get out of hand and someone who hoards to an intolerable level where it affects their life and becomes unmanageable.

People who hoard can never rationally make the choice to "let go". The rest of us reach a point and decide we have to clean house and organize our lives. They keep things for reasons other than enjoyment. Until you discover the reason and deal with it, nothing will stop the hoarding.

Terrie's Lil' Piece of Serenity said...

Dawnie, This was very interesting. I never thought of myself as a hoarder. I do not collect anything. I do not save a lot of things. But, I do have a lot of clothes and shoes. You're making me wonder.

Empty Nest Full Life said...

Thanks for stopping by to visit. Oh I am excited about the new dryer. I have a fairly new washer, that I would not recommend to anyone. The company replaced the first one because it gave me so much trouble, and the second one is not much better, and we paid for the upgrade. But those clothes are drying in a flash compared to the old one. Have a great day. Jackie

Justabeachkat said...

Hi Dawn

Thanks for visiting me. I hope you'll come back...you're always welcome. I've sure enjoyed my visit here to your very pretty blog.


Cottage Rose said...

Hey Dawnie; I want to thank you for visiting and leaving a very sweet comment. I really enjoyed reading your post.

Have a great week.


HektikLyfe said...


I ... must admit this may apply to me.

We weren't poor as kids but we weren't exactly rich either. We were not allowed to waste anything. We had to work hard for what we had which is a lesson I am still grateful for today.

Now I have things, little papers, little pictures, movie ticket stubs and other useless things I can't seem to part with.

My grandmother was a HUGE pack rat. It became a problem. I didn't realize she had a problem until I saw these habits within myself. But here is the interesting/confusing thing about it all for me.

I think I have OCD. These two habits do not go hand in hand though. I need things clean. So having a pile of stuff drives me nuts. When I am present in the room with all my stuff I feel as if charged with static electricity. A HUGE part of me wants to just throw it all away to clean it.

You could say I'm of two minds...as if I needed another psychological problem!

I'm working on it. My desk is impeccable at work. The personal, sentimental stuff I have at home that I have difficulty parting with.

The Raggedy Girl said...

What a thoughtful subject. My decorating style is country clutter and there is a lot of stuff in this house. When my parents died and I now owned another home with lots of things I purposed to start thinning out. I have been at it for six years and it is still hard to let go but I just make my rounds room by room and then start at the beginning again. I have even made it to letting go of furniture and not just stuff.
Roberta Anne

Ginger said...

Interesting post, Dawn. I think I have the opposite of hoarding problem. I get rid of stuff that I really should keep. I don't have anything from my childhood, or my kid's childhood. (except for some collectible ornaments). I wish I had kept some things.