We’ve all seen the TV shows depicting hoarders—and how the disorder isolates people and even threatens their health. You see bathtubs full of junk and rooms that can’t be used because the doorway is blocked. You see unsanitary kitchens and homeowners ashamed to have guests over.
So why do people do it?
It seems so easy, right? Hoarders just need to clean up their place—and then stop getting so much new stuff.
But that’s sort of like telling an alcoholic to just stop drinking. It’s simply not that easy.
The fact is that hoarding is a disorder that takes effort to manage and treat. Hoarders feel that their possessions, in a way, keep them safe. Getting rid of them makes them feel vulnerable and anxious.
It’s not known exactly what causes hoarding, but experts say it’s a mix of genetics, brain functioning and stressful life events. Risk factors include the following:
• A family history of hoarding
• Stressful life events
• A personality that tends to be indecisive
OCD and Throwing Things Away
Until recently, hoarding was considered a subset of obsessive-compulsive order. It’s now known that the two disorders have distinct differences. Many hoarders, for example, don’t recognize their behavior as troublesome. Rather, they interpret it as being thrifty and avoiding wastefulness.
Treatment for Hoarding
The good news is that hoarding can be treated. The suggested approach is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which teaches people to see the objects around them in a different way. At the same time, harm reduction can also be practiced, which means taking steps to make a home safer by controlling vermin, reducing fire hazards, etc.
Self storage can’t fix hoarding, but it can serve as a valuable tool as a family begins the process of getting a house—and a loved one’s life—under control.