Over-Collecting or Hoarding?

hoarding yrd saleHow many people do you know with piles of “things” everywhere in their homes? I’m referring to the stuff lying around “without a home and/or no place to put it.” If you were to ask most people, they would simply tell you that “stuff” is either something they don’t want to throw away as they are going to get to it when they have time or they paid too much for it and don’t want to have to buy it again, even if it hasn’t moved in 5-10 yrs. Excuses are generally rampant.

I personally believe this is called collecting gone awry. They now have a reality TV show on over collectors or hoarders, which tells me its a much bigger problem than most think. I find that people with stuff or collectors of sorts, spend way too much time worrying about making sure they have enough or where to get more. They are not aware that this is a problem. There were times throughout history, such as during the depression in this country, where people had to “hoard” for lack of a better term, secondary to survival.

I grew up around my grandmother who saved everything; tin foil, saran wrap, containers; anything she could clean up and re-use. She was a product of the depression so I totally understood. The question running through my mind, is this a good or bad habit in general? If truly these items are being used and not just collected, then one would tend to summarize that its relatively okay, but if the collecting is to the level of changing quality of life such as making your living space unlivable, or hard for other family members to live in the same home, then one could say it is most likely out of control. There is a good change of an occurrence in the collector/hoarders’ life that caused this behavior to go awry.

We as human beings collect things. It’s a normal response secondary to our ancestral hunter/gatherer subsistence mode. There are still classes within our societies that are still classified as such ie farmers. For the most part, most of us have evolved out of that mode secondary to no longer having to exist that way. Whether it be a socioeconomic based behavior, genetic disposition, or a behavior born out of a childhood issue, there isn’t an easy black/white answer as to what makes certain people over collect.

Wikipedia facts state that hoarding prevalence rates have been estimated at 2-5% in adults, greater in older adults than younger groups, in men versus women, and is inversely related to household income. Hoarding appears to be more common in people with psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Other factors often associated with hoarding include alcohol dependence as well as paranoid, schizotypal, and avoidant traits. Family histories show strong positive correlations. They also state that much study hasn’t been done on the subject so a lot of speculation surrounds the topic.

I’m not saying collecting is a bad thing. There are many degrees of collecting but when common sense no longer prevails and it starts affecting quality of life, intervention may be warranted. Intervention may be family members helping the individual make some sort of sense out of their behavior or psychological therapy to help the affected individual(s) try to find the root of the behavior. If left untreated, the behavior will never correct itself. It’s usually up to the other family members to create a livable solution, such as organizing the stuff, but it will always be a burden for them as well. We all have choices on how we deal with such an issue and since the perpetrator isn’t aware of there really being a problem, it will most likely be a family decision/intervention in most cases.

Time for a BIG yard sale ya’ll! Take the profits and invest in your grandchildrens education or to a worthy cause; turn it into a positive behavior.

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