Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hoarding - "Buried Alive in Junk"

By Karon Brandt

The Packrat Mentality

"Pack rats" who become "buried alive" in a mountain of stuff - to the point where their homes become unsafe or uninhabitable - are called "hoarders." Once the problem reaches the point of compulsive collecting, it becomes a serious problem, an unofficial subset of a mental illness called obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The classification is still being argued, as some hoarders do not have other OCD symptoms, and different portions of the brain seem to be involved with hoarders.

If you cannot comprehend the seriousness of the problem, view some videos from the A&E TV show titled "Hoarders" at The show begins with the statement that three million people suffer from hoarding; these are two of their stories. The scenes are appalling.

Some people collect stuff as memories of the past; some collect as a kind of "insurance" against the future - just in case they "might need it"; some compulsively save things beyond the usefulness of the objects, such as food which becomes spoiled.

Hoarders might save books (bibliomania) to the point where their health or personal
relationships are affected. "Digital hoarders" collect files on computers beyond the point of usefulness: it becomes a financial burden to buy new hard drives to store items they will never use or need. (Wikipedia)

"Animal hoarders" collect animals like dogs or cats. They believe they are being kind and helpful - perhaps saving the animals' lives, like adopting pets that face euthanasia - but the animals begin to suffer health problems from overcrowding and lack of vet care to the point that animal rescue agencies must get involved.

If you suspect someone you live with or care about has a hoarding problem, you can intervene. If a "collector" begins collecting until they cannot live in their homes safely or maneuver around normally, you can suspect a problem..."