According to the Mayo Clinic, Hoarding Disorder is defined as the person experiencing persistent difficulty discarding/parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. They experience distress at the thought of getting rid of the items.
It can cause the sufferer serious adverse impact in the emotional, social, financial, and legal areas of their lives.
Just because someone collects items does not make them a Hoarder. Someone with Hoarding Disorder does not choose to collect something, they are compelled to do so without knowing why. A collector chooses to collect items based upon monetary, sentimental, and even for social reasons.
Some believe we are born wired to collect items. That it is a survival instinct going back to a time when collecting was essential to our survival, i.e. accumulating a surplus of food and tools. But in today’s modern world collecting is viewed as materialistic since we don’t need to amount a large amount of food and tools to survive. Is that why we tend to collect items? Satiating a survival need ingrained into our DNA?
Usually when someone is a collector they have their collection displayed in an orderly manner. According to iocdf.org a major part of Hoarding Disorder is the disorganized nature of the clutter which can lead to the person’s living space unable to be used for everyday living. The disorder causes the place to become cluttered to the point where moving through the home becomes difficult with blocked exits and everyday routines difficult to do.
Someone with Hoarding Disorder accumulates items with no specific theme or pattern. The items they keep are acquired in often excessive manners, ranging from free (given to them or found), to purchased. Their items are then placed in no particular order causing their home to slowly become filled to the point of being unhabitable. This causes health and safety problems caused from the emotional distress from the strain of their finances, family relationships, and even sanitary concerns.
What causes someone to reach this point? After all, it doesn’t happen overnight.
There are medical reasons someone may hoard items and those are:
- Brain Injury
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Prader-Willi Syndrome
All of these require a medical diagnosis. Once the person has been tested and the medical reasons are ruled out, then a psychological evaluation is needed for a proper diagnosis. Once a proper diagnosis, medical or psychological, is received then the proper treatment can be administered. Treatments may include CBT, Skills Training, Motivational Interviewing, Support Groups, and maybe even Medication.
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