Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The clean sweep


Hoarding horrors abound. Some hoard human waste -- yes, feces! Others amass newspapers, food, junk, mementos and/or valuable items. Some hoard animals; others money.

Things provide comfort -- no matter the discomfort and chaos the collecting causes. The overwhelming need to acquire gets out of control, to the point of even endangering lives.

"The amount of stuff is like a weight on them physically and mentally -- houses are so overfilled that they lose all freedom, they become disengaged in life," says Ottawa-based hoarding specialist Elaine Birchall.

Hoarders waste away in all the waste, possessions, accumulation -- "yet they don't see it, it's their normal."

Birchall recalls "a case where 112 animals lived in a 25 by 20 foot trailer with a hoarder." Human and animal suffering was evident. "The non-caged animals 'owned' her bed which was in the living room because all of the other spaces were lined with animal cages."

Although totally devoted to her pets, "the mental and physical needs of the animals were not being met. Her ability to maintain control of the situation was perilous mentally, physically and financially," adds Birchall, of hoarding.ca.

Overwhelming clutter makes for chaotic living conditions for compulsive collectors, impairing daily activity, physical and mental health, relationships and living conditions...." More