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I suspect I am the only admitted hoarder on this FAD board so this may not be a concern at all here, but I would love to get some honest dialogue.

On TMF, there is IMHO a great board, Get Organized!, where I post infrequently. There's a new thread this morning posting about an article in today's New York Times.

http://boards.fool.com/task-forces-offer-hoarders-a-way-to-d...

While posting a response, I realized there is an updated wikipedia article on Compulsive hoarding which has a lot of new information I felt related to myself directly.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_hoarding

Love some discussion as always, but for now, just wondering if anyone here considers hoarding a concern in some fashion.

Lois Carmen D.
Yes, I am a hoarder and need help of some sort
Yes I am a hoarder, but I don't need help yet
Not sure, I might have a hoarding issue
Someone I know and care about has some type of hoarding
Not applicable, don't know, or not close to a hoarder

Click here to see results so far.

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I understand that hoarding is distinct from cluttering. We don't hoard, but we aren't neat as a pin either. We're OK at cleaning, but not so good at keeping clutter at bay, especially in the home office and on the dining table, which accumulate paper, and the laundry room/mud room. We have dinner guests often enough that at least the dining table clutter can't get too old!

I don't derive much pleasure or solace from shopping, yard saling, fixing up castoffs found on the street--in fact i pretty much hate to shop period except for food (which I like too much!), I even hate to shop online and procrastinate doing it even when I need something. I just don't typically feel joy from acquiring things--more of a thank goodness that's done so i dont have to do it. Honestly, I think i just don't like making purchasing decisions.

Gifts are a source of clutter for me, so I've actually gotten to almist dislike receiving them as it's hard to part with gifts from loved ones even when I don't need or like the items. Also, when I was working poor, my mother used to give me most of her household detritus, from her used clothing to household items no longer wanted, and it was hard for me to get rid of stuff from my Mom. She still tries to do that, but I refuse to accept stuff now (yay!).

It's DH's job to do the dishes and sometimes he doesn't quite finish (or even start), except for running the dishwasher, which for some reason he enjoys, and he tends to leave things where he used them like kitchen implements, tools, phone, remotes. He also thinks of himself as a person who builds and fixes and has acquired tools and such that have rarely or never been used (grrrr). I'm less likely to acquire things I don't use, but have never used the breadmaker I bought myself for Christmas a few years ago. I'm gluten intolerant and intended to make gluten-free bread, but instead I just pretty much stopped eating bread!

One clutter solution that saves money, time and mess (and saves decisions, which I love!) is that I stopped subscribing to anything other than online news/newsletters/blogs. No paper newspapers or magazines coming into the house is awesome! Surprisingly, I don't miss anything. I prefer to read online anyway.

Another solution is that I pretty much stopped buying clothing and accessories for either of us. To implement this, I just stay out of clothing or department stores (if I'm at, say, Target, I just steer clear of the clothing area).

We clean with white vinegar, baking soda and ammonia, so no cleaning supplies clutter. We use Dr Bonners liquid soap for hand and dish washing as well as shampoo, and I use white vinegar as conditioner, so no need for a jumble of shampoos, soaps. I don't wear perfume or much makeup, which prevents that sort of clutter.

I do keep cases of canned/boxed/bagged stuff on hand as a prepper thing like canned tomatoes, almond milk, beans, tuna, TP, Kleenex.

I find spending months at a time on our RV, with it's tiny living space and storage, is very relaxing. I hate the burden and responsibility of owning lots of stuff.

When DH retired 5 months ago, he got rid of old computers and such. I need to likewise purge kitchen items, but...having a hard time with that, mainly coz most of the unused/rarely used items were gifts! He needs to purge the garage, too. It's small and we can still park the cars in it, but there are many unused items (not household overflow, luckily).

With rare exceptions, we don't buy paper books any more, but since our books already exceed the carting capacity of their book shelves, this is a modest achievement!
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Hello alstroemeria,

Thank you for your reply. I deeply appreciate an exchange.

I think you would rate only a #1 on the hoarding scale of 1-5. See link for details.
http://www.childrenofhoarders.com/pdf/nsgcd_clutterhoardings...

In case others stumble across this thread as an isolated topic, let me be clear that I have a history of mental illness and currently on long-term/permanent psychiatric disability.

Buying items is only one way to acquire excessively. Speaking for myself, in this wealthy country that we are, there are numerous ways to hoard.

Me, I just keep bringing things home, then keeping them. Examples include the junk mail I receive and keep, useful things I see in other peoples' trash, donations, etc. Right now, I have several cats and a dog. (A fear I have is becoming an animal hoarder.) Most of my home hoarding is based on paperwork: boxes of paperwork, including newspapers, periodicals, as well as decades of employment as an office worker. And I may have touches of OCD, which according to the new DSM-5, does not have hoarding as a subcategory (I haven't read the DSM-5 and don't understand the differences so don't bet on this from me).

I think the hard part for hoarders, or at least for me, is letting go of things (or people etc.). Sometimes it is difficult to say goodbye literally or figuratively.

Thanks,
Lois Carmen D.
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Also for background, on that link I provided, I believe my home can be rated a #3 (out of a scale of 1-5). Much of the criteria for the first and third columns I believe is suitable for private, separate house and I live in an apartment, but much of the other criteria in #3 appears to fit my current situation.

I have been increasingly worried about the deteriorating condition here, but have not been able to work on it significantly.

Lois Carmen D.
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I also have trouble throwing out mail I don't need, which is how picking up and dealing with mail became DH's job. And I have trouble getting rid of clothes I dont wear and other items I no longer need. So I think I have hoarding tendencies, just not the aspect of bringing known unusable items into the house. We move more often than most people and have been able to take advantage of the opportunity to get rid of unneeded items. I can sirt through and see what we don't need, but it is very hard for me to get rid of it (so DH does). I pitched a fit when DH got rid of bath towels before our last move. Just like the hoarders I see on TV when their helpers get rid of stuff. With my hysband's dianosis with a serious degenerative brain disease, I will have to gradually take over his tasks as well as care for him (alas, no LTCI).

What I tried to express, badly, in my previous post, is that I can understand and sympathize with hoarding even though on the surface my place usually looks OK.

I was finally able, after 6 years of 2-3 month RV trips, to throw away maybe 1/4 of the accumulated crap before we took this trip. I was saving campground maps, area activity brochures, some useless stuff that actually had cost money like butterflies of so and so county, and could still part with just a fraction. So I take it back--I do bring some absurd stuff into the house (well, I leave it in tote bags on the Rv--DH brings it into the house, where I ignore it...).

Being allergic to cats, whom I adore, and indifferent at best to dogs, whom I can take in small doses if well trained, we do not have pets. I grew up with canaries and parakeets and now prefer birds un the wild.

I have told 3 people that I have books to send them and haven't managed to part with them yet either.

=alstro, without DH's help, maybe a 1.5 or 2?
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Good morning alstroemeria!

I had to interrupt composing this response because my newest cat insisted on sitting at the keyboard and wouldn't move despite my firm insistence that I was trying to write. She's now in the (messy) bedroom.

So I think I have hoarding tendencies, just not the aspect of bringing known unusable items into the house.

A very important point here is what different people consider "usable." Some of the literature I have read about the motivations of hoarders is that we tend to believe that many things we have are actually useful, not just usable. This might be a bigger factor for hoarders who collect things they find outside and bring it home. Or that we put too high of a value on various possessions (for myself, I like books and periodicals, or various boxes of files and paperwork from my work and personal history).

I pitched a fit when DH got rid of bath towels before our last move. Just like the hoarders I see on TV when their helpers get rid of stuff.

One of my beliefs is that there are many more possible hoarding situations that are prevented because of environment and social structure potential hoarder. I think either "perfect storm" type of circumstances, or for some a triggering event (actual, or emotional/mental), can turn very frugal* people into hoarders. For those like myself and similar, there may be clear and evident long-term contributing factors to becoming a chronic hoarder.

For context, each of my two ex-husbands were much cleaner and neater than I was though knowing how bad I am now, does not say much. My first ex-husband is almost OCD in being clean and neat. Though I collected and filed all types of things, at least my boxes and piles were well organized and neat. My second ex-husband was more of your average type of guy that wasn't particularly neat, but knew how to do housework when necessary (usually a weekly, or twice a month whirlwind of quick cleaning). With my XH#2, he had the habit of throwing away my things without asking/letting me know in advance (which also started quite a few volcanic fights). Right or wrong, one of my issues with him was disposing (or a few times, trying to "organize") of my things because he thought things were useless, or disgusting. On the other hand, one time when I tried to throw away one of his plastic soda cups (something from a fastfood chain from years before) that was difficult to clean and had food encrusted in crevices, he immediately starting screaming in my face.

With my XH#1, though he encouraged me to get rid of things, he never crossed the line of destroying or disposing of my things without my direct involvement and consent. His main rule was just to keep my things clean and neat, which I did (with his help doing all the other domestic cleaning and upkeep). Though different forms, I think we each had types of mild compulsive behaviors which at least we respected (sometimes admired).

What I tried to express, badly, in my previous post, is that I can understand and sympathize with hoarding even though on the surface my place usually looks OK.

In re-reading your original post, I misunderstood, you did not write badly at all. I misread it and I am sorry for the misunderstanding.

I was finally able, after 6 years of 2-3 month RV trips, to throw away maybe 1/4 of the accumulated crap before we took this trip. I was saving campground maps, area activity brochures, some useless stuff that actually had cost money like butterflies of so and so county, and could still part with just a fraction. So I take it back--I do bring some absurd stuff into the house (well, I leave it in tote bags on the Rv--DH brings it into the house, where I ignore it...).

I have traveled rarely, at least compared to many on TMF, and I also tend to save all the paperwork (maps, brochures, tourist stuff, etc.) as well. An added, but not sole, incentive is if it actually cost money (adding again to the concept of over-valuing posesssions). Yet, as you, once brought into the house, I do little to maintain the quality and condition of these items, at least long term. I may put these things in a special container or place when I first get home, but months and years later, they just become like so much of the thousands of paperwork and objects I've accumulated.

Being allergic to cats, whom I adore, and indifferent at best to dogs, whom I can take in small doses if well trained, we do not have pets. I grew up with canaries and parakeets and now prefer birds un the wild.

Cats I've had on and off through most of my life, though now it is the most in terms of quantity. The dog is the first dog I've ever had on my own. Birds I have had little exposure with though I will say that one of my volunteer projects involved helping a group of volunteers clean out a disabled man's apartment (he was hospitalized for more than two months) where he had "rescued" dozens of cats and dozens of birds (including some wildlife birds as well as a few street pigeons). Cats are messy of course, but birds and their cages require a lot of handling. Helping with that man's apartment was a deliberate effort on my part and one of the experiences that I try to hold on to as a motivator for me to stay on top of my own hoarding.

I have told 3 people that I have books to send them and haven't managed to part with them yet either.

=alstro, without DH's help, maybe a 1.5 or 2?


Sadly I know very few truly literate (meaning people who enjoy quality reading for leisure) people who I can give or share my books with. I wish I knew people in real life who truly enjoy reading and thinking.

I don't know if you would be interested in reading this. Though it is awkwardly written, I posted a subsequent response on the original thread on Get Organized!. I believe that is the last response on that thread, not sure if some of my half-formed theories make sense.
http://boards.fool.com/hoarding-alzheimers-autism-all-are-co...

Lois Carmen D.


* "frugal" as defined:
1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/frugal
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At the risk of appearing both obsessed and self-absorbed (guilty on both counts LOL), I am just posting some excerpts from the wikipedia article's "diagnosis" section and how it applies to me personally, which I found both shockingly on point and validating in some ways.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_hoarding#Diagnosis

751 people were chosen for a study[16] in which the persons self-reported their hoarding behavior. Of these individuals, most reported the onset of their hoarding symptoms between the ages of 11 and 20 years old, with 70% reporting the behaviors before the age of 21. Fewer than 4% of people reported the onset of their symptoms after the age of 40. The data show that compulsive hoarding begins early, but often does not become more prominent until after age 40. Different reasons have been given for this such as the presence of family members is more prominent early in life and limits acquisition and facilitates the removal of clutter. The understanding of early onset hoarding behavior may help in the future to be able to distinguish hoarding behavior from “normal” childhood collecting behaviors.

For myself, I'm not quite sure but I know that definitely by the age of 14 I was already doing paper hoarding. Very neat hoarding, but hoarding already. I may have started at the age of either 12 or 13, but by 14, my mother was already complaining about my "collection" and forcing me to throw things away.

A second key part of this study was to determine if stressful life events are linked to the onset of hoarding symptoms. Similar to self-harming, traumatized persons may create "a problem" for themselves in order not to face their real anxiety or trauma and do something about it. Facing their real issues may be too difficult for them, so they "create" a kind of "artificial" problem (in their case, hoarding) and prefer to battle with it rather than determine, face, or do something about their real anxieties.

Important note on this above section: the way in which this explanation is written is surprisingly awkward. Bluntly, I find it bordering on the offensive in terms of the attitude towards traumatized hoarders. I may be taking it too personally, but it really bothers me. I think if a better writer/contributer had written this, there should be no need to put the terms "a problem," "create," or "artificial" in quotation marks. The negative implications here many, not limited to possibly implying that a hoarder is consciously sublimating traumas. I wish I could request a re-write of the writing here.

Continuing with the excerpt.
Hoarders may suppress their psychological pain by "hoarding". The study shows that adults who hoard report a greater lifetime incidence of having possessions taken by force, forced sexual activity as either an adult or a child, including forced intercourse, and being physically handled roughly during childhood, thus proving traumatic events are positively correlated with the severity of hoarding.

Have had these incidents through adolescence, though primarily physical from early childhood onwards. I just wonder how they positively correlate with specifics of hoarding severity.

For each five years of life the participant would rate from 1 to 4, 4 being the most severe, the severity of their hoarding symptoms. 548 participants reported a chronic course, 159 an increasing course and 39 people, a decreasing course of illness. The incidents of increased hoarding behavior were usually correlated to five categories of stressful life events.[16]

I wonder about the use of a 1 to 4 scale here. I've been using the 1-5 scale of hoarding and though I think my general rating is now a 3, some aspects are (or approaching) a 4. I believe even six months ago, I was at a 2-3. I do believe I am at an increasing course.

In general, I wonder sometimes how hoarders can be helped. For myself, at least I am in the camp of individuals who know I have a problem and want intervention or help, but do not have the resources (a.k.a. "money") to find, choose, and manage outside professional services (trained cleaning services) to find it. And there are no, at this point, available agencies or services to intervene. I am not a full #5 (severe, emergency, and potentially endangering not just the immediate household, but neighbors and community) and I am not completely dysfunctional, but I am unable to make, or keep, a significant impact on the hoarding. And like so many of the other hoarders, I don't want the mandatory (emergency services) intervention which means taking everything out and throwing it all away.

The basics of differences between true filth and accumulation. I think when it gets to the point of a sanitation (meaning infestations, bacterial, things rotting and decaying, significant odor and stench, etc.) issue, it must be addressed. Things that are accumulating to such a degree to pose a hazard (things collapsing, seriously blocking ability to enter and leave a household, or significant problems access areas such as bathroom and kitchen), also need intervention.

An idea I had is somehow starting support groups and counseling project for admitted hoarders, or possibly also for those that emergency services and social workers deem to be problem hoarders, even if they are still in denial. I wonder about programs roughly along the ideas of alcohol and drug abuse centers especially since I think sometimes some severe compulsive behaviors have similar roots to alcohol and drug abuse.

Just some thoughts.

Lois Carmen D.
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I had to laugh at the symptoms of hoarding on Wikopedia. It took many years for me to convince my husband that he did not need to have clothing that he wore in high school hanging in our closet.

1. They tend to hold onto a large number of items that most people would consider not useful or valuable. For example: Junk mail
Old catalogues and newspapers
Things that might be useful for making crafts
Clothes that "might" be worn one day
Broken things/trash
"Freebies" or other promotional products picked up


My husband carries a lot of baggage from his past, mostly his feelings that when he was growing up, his family was 'poor'. Consequently, for the longest time, he was obsessed with things, i.e., sets of china (right now, we have 5). But now that we are getting up in years, he has finally decided that we have too much 'stuff'.

I don't consider myself a hoarder, but like Greba, I definitely have a problem with clutter. I also believe that uncontrolled clutter exacerbates depression. Too much stuff lying around and I feel overwhelmed, and unable to focus and to anything about it.

In 1999, I came across a website called Flylady.net. The basic theme of the website is that your home didn't become a wreck overnight, so you can't expect it to become perfect overnight. She teaches and preaches about 'baby steps' (You Can Do Anything in 15 Minutes), and routines. If you do something every day (like disposing of junk mail), eventually it will become something you do automatically without having to think about it.

True story, I have been getting daily emails from Flylady since 1999, and I am happy to report that her principles are finally starting to sink in. I still have a long way to go, but at least I'm making some progress. I have finally reached the point where I make my bed every morning, which seems like a small thing. But now I can make the bed, pick up things that don't belong in the bedroom, hang up my clothes, and keep the bathroom fairly tidy. It really makes a difference when I walk into the room, and I'm working on getting the rest of our home in order.

Check out the website. If you are like me, you may find the 'Morning Musings' inspiring. Even if you don't act of them, at least you will be thinking about why things are they way they are. I am also learning how to distinguish between 'things that I can control' and 'thinks that I can't'. It helps to keep things in perspective.

Peg

I could write a lot more, but by doing so, I would be putting off getting those things done that really need to be done - LOL!
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Good afternoon Peg,

I just hopped on TMF here a minute ago and it seems you only just replied now. I have been spending less time online because in my region, we are undergoing a heatwave. My home computer setup is old and runs terribly hot and loud so I try to get on it as infrequently, and briefly, as possible during the heat.

Thus I greatly appreciate your timely reply now!

In 1999, I came across a website called Flylady.net.

Thank you for reminding me about that website. I think I read about this Getting Organized! a while ago, but I've forgotten to keep up on it. I have to clean up my home page (five websites tabbed now), but I should add Flylady.net and make it my main site. Excellent reminder each time I get online.

I still have a long way to go, but at least I'm making some progress. I have finally reached the point where I make my bed every morning, which seems like a small thing. But now I can make the bed, pick up things that don't belong in the bedroom, hang up my clothes, and keep the bathroom fairly tidy. It really makes a difference when I walk into the room, and I'm working on getting the rest of our home in order.

Your current situation is something I can only aspire to at this point. Glad to hear that the website has really helped you bit by bit. I have to remind myself, as you've already said, none of this clutter and hoarding happened overnight and the cleaning also can't be accomplished overnight, too.

Thanks again,
Lois Carmen D.
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Good common points raised however surely the trick is to not keep so much around you
Thats just organisation
http://www.nectareal.com
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LCD, lois, I wish I knew you in real life . Many of your hoarding or semi hoarding characteristics are in my house, me and my husband (not so much him) both, as well as a friend we have rescued when he lost his house (not due to the junk, or maybe partially, I do not wish to share his details).

I read
It is distinct from cluttering or insatiable collecting. The self-soothing need to acquire, coupled with a paralyzing inability to discard, significantly impairs one’s ability to function. and I do not have the inability to discard, but I recognize the "this might have a use" item, such as when I hauled 2 bags of clean beer 6 pack cartons for possible construction purposes from the friend moving here. I was going to put them on freecycle and haven't yet (really, colorful cardboard for decorating...what?)

Anyway I need to sleep but am glad to have checked into this list. And I clicked the wrong item on the poll after reading the italiziced above.

jts
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I've looked at flylady and someone actually sent me a group of papers from it (ON body clutter I think) and they turned up under some books in my upstairs bathroom and have finally--I think-- made it out to recycling.

so , I just can't handle their item, but I'm making some progress.
at least with laundry.

jts
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