Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cluttered house: Sign of a problem

By:  Janet Marshall

PATIENT I'll call Christine (not her real name) was distressed enough that her mother had cancer and that she needed to go to Ohio to help her mom through chemotherapy.

But when she got there and found the house an unspeakable clutter--and her mother passionately resisting her throwing anything away--she realized she had another problem to contend with.

"There were newspapers, books, ornaments, calendars, clothes, bills, bank statements, food wrappers--everything she had ever used in the last 20 years, I swear," Christine told me...


The inability to throw anything away is not such an uncommon problem. Like so many neuroses, we may see a bit of it in ourselves.

A weakness for bargains and freebies, collecting discarded objects, going to yard sales and renting storage space because you have too much "stuff" are all possible signs.

It may be just a minor eccentricity in some. But when you can't find your bills, checkbook or keys, every last surface is covered in clutter and your life is in disarray, it's gotten to the point of being a disease.

Clutterers also suffer emotional symptoms such as worries, regrets, emotional fog and spiritual emptiness...


The way out is to stop doing the drug or behavior, and wait for your brain to recover--easier said than done, as any smoker or overeater will tell you.

Clutterers Anonymous adopts the classic 12-step program that was originally invented by Alcoholics Anonymous...


It intrigues me that so many of these diseases--such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, workaholism and Internet addiction--are all pathological exaggerations of normally healthy, constructive behaviors. You might wonder about the merits of obsessive-compulsive people, but very often they do a good, careful, conscientious job--even if at a cost to their emotional health..." More