Matt Paxton is not your typical organizer. When Paxton started Clutter Cleaner in 2006, it was intended to focus on cleaning houses for grieving widows and relocating seniors. But he quickly found himself sought out by extreme hoarders and now he and his crew clean out the messiest homes in America. Paxton is a “regular guy” who understands both hoarding and addiction issues first-hand.
Shortly after college Paxton spent a year gambling at Caesar’s Palace in Lake Tahoe, when he ran up $40,000 in gambling debt that he couldn’t pay. After a run in with his bookie, Paxton admitted his problem and sought help. Paxton and his Clutter Cleaner team have cleaned over 300 hoarded homes and have developed a “no nonsense” style of helping aging seniors and hoarders alike.
Paxton is a featured organizer on A&E’s Hoarders and speaks nationally on hoarding and senior relocation. Paxton’s incredible stories have been highlighted in various publications including the WSJ, Inc., Playboy and Bloomberg Businessweek. Matt has written a book for family members and the general public to better understand hoarding. “The Secret Lives of Hoarders” hits stores May, 2011. He and his wife Sarah live in Richmond, Virginia with their son, Cooper.
Per everyone’s request, I have posted links to my podcast 5 Decisions Away, so that you don’t have to download it on iTunes. If you do like it, PLEASE subscribe free on iTunes.
Let me stress, this is not for everyone. It’s crass, rude, funny and hopefully entertaining and informative. It’s been described as gross and inspirational, which is our goal. My Clutter Cleaner partner in crime, Cabell Hatchett, and myself talk about how we ended up cleaning hoarded homes and about the interesting things we encounter on the road. Sometimes we’ll be joined by guests and hope that you’ll send in suggestions for topics and guests. We need your help, please send in your requests.
After working with a traditional hoarding scale used by the organizing community, Matt Paxton became frustrated that the scale focused mainly on the physical attributes of a house. He understood that the house is only half of the problem and the mental needs of a hoarder are just as important in recognizing how to help a hoarder.
So, Matt created a 2-part hoarding scale that equally identifies the physical state of a home and the mental state of a hoarder. It shows equal importance to each side and accounts for the flexibility of a hoarder’s home being completely full, but mentally not being as bad off as other hoarders or vice versa. For example, a hoarder could be living in complete squalor, but the person is mentally doing well and progressing. And on the other hand, a person could be living in a fairly clean home, but mentally they are 100% cluttered. Matt created a new scale to better understand hoarders and effectively identify the tools to help.
By using the simple chart above, Matt Paxton identifies homes differently according to the mental state of the hoarder and the physical state of the home. A traditional home that is cluttered and the family simply needs rules to keep the home clean is a 1.1 or a 1.2 on the Paxton Hoarding Scale. Alternatively, an extreme Stage 5 hoarder that is dangerously full of physical items and the hoarder has anxiety, depression and many other needs may be a 5.4 or a 5.5 on the scale. A full explanation of all 5 stages is available in The Secret Lives of Hoarders and in the online Hoarding Education Classes presented by Clutter Cleaner.
The Hoarder Life Cycle shows the emotional roller coaster that a hoarder will experience multiple times in their life. After cleaning a few extreme hoarding houses, Matt Paxton started to see that the hoarder became very happy during the clean-up and would have a relapse 3 days after the clean-up was completed. He saw that hoarders usually went into a deeper depression he now calls the “Hoarder Hangover.” The good news is that the depression only lasted a few days, but Matt needed to find a way to show the hoarders that it would get better. The Hoarder Life Cycle is an important tool to show hoarders that it probably will get worse before it gets better. The graph will hopefully help everyone involved understand that mood swings are part of the disease.
This blog was created to keep you up-to-date on animal hoarding and large scale animal news and cruelty.
Because hoarding and OCD disorders often overlap, we will also list news and information related to these topics, and how these illness's affect the hoarder, their family and friends, but most of all the animals, that suffer... "alone in a crowded room".
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