Most of us are familiar with the compulsive activity know as Hoarding. Hoarding disorder is not all that common, and can be intriguing and confusing looking from an outside point of view. Media has even gone as far as to publicize certain individuals affected by hoarding in TV shows , such as Hoarders found on the A&E channel. However, what many are not aware of is that hoarding is a mental disorder that often needs professional treatment. These types of TV shows use invasive tactics that can put shame on the individuals affected by this condition, which does nothing to help the individual with the affliction and in most cases is morally wrong. We want to shed some light on the facts of this condition and some of the controversy surrounding its subject matter.
Hoarding Disorder, also known as extreme or compulsive hoarding, is a disorder serious enough to warrant it's own classification in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It was previously classified as a sub-type disorder of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), but was promoted to it's own unique classification. With that being said, having hoarding as its own unique classification of mental illness can actually make it easier to select effective treatment options for those affected.
Hoarding can come in different forms. Most people will collect items as a hobby. Although the items may hold no practical significance, they can be emotionally significant, and in some cases can hold monetary value if done properly. Hoarding comes into play when the owner of said objects becomes so attached to these items that they cannot bear the thought of parting with them. On small levels this behavior is usually harmless, and the items involved are typically organized to some degree (placed in boxes, on shelves, or left in a dedicated room, etc.).
However, extreme hoarding takes these behaviors to new levels, and can end up being an incredibly dangerous practice.
Extreme hoarding is the level of item collection you will see on hoarding TV shows. These people accumulate all types of items over the course of years. This type of buildup and clutter spills out of storage spaces and eventually ends up taking space on tables, floors, and in walkways. In extreme cases, it can be incredibly difficult to navigate the home of a hoarder due to the immense amount of clutter strewn about. While the individuals affected by this disorder may not cease to collect items, they are usually aware of the extent to which this collection has taken over their life, and can sometimes be embarrassed by it, often not allowing others into their home in fear of shame or that item may be misplaced/go missing. This creates a huge problem for anyone living with this individual.
Extreme hoarding behaviors are not only shocking, but they are also incredibly dangerous. Clutter left about can include biohazardous materials, such as food left out, insect and rodent infestations, as well as deceased animals that sometimes are found under the clutter. This is a breeding ground for dangerous airborne bacteria, especially mold. If you walked into the home of someone affected by extreme hoarding you may be overwhelmed by the smell persisting throughout the property. This environment can often lead to chronic illnesses, and lack of personal hygiene is a common side effect of hoarding disorders.
What to Do
From an outsider's perspective, the solution may seem as simple as throwing items away. However, a lot of controversy stems around the fact that these items hold some sort of significance to the individual who has collected them, and throwing them away can be traumatic for that individual. Dealing with mental illness isn't easy. There is no quick fix, and it usually takes time and therapy sessions to get to the root of the problem. The best thing to do with someone who may be hoarding is to provide emotional support.
Picture this situation: your fun Aunt Bessy has always been a little messy when it comes to her home, with stuff in weird places and full cabinets and closets. However you all just see her as quirky and she is just a bit of a pack rat. However, has it occurred to you that her messy tendencies may go a bit deeper than you think? Does she just put off cleaning and organizing, or does she tend to purposefully keep things that most others would throw away? Dealing with the realization of these situations can be hard, which is why it is best to find professionals who can help to their fullest extent.
Here at Clean Earth Restorations, we consider ourselves as a part of the neighborhood. We care about our neighbors, and our goal first and foremost is to help those affected by disaster and tough situations such as hoarding. When it comes to hoarding cleanup, we know how difficult the recovery process can be. We make sure to take time to get to know all of the individuals who are affected, and all of our technicians go through empathy training to help make the recovery and restoration efforts as easy as possible for those involved. We can't tell you the road to recovery is easy, but we can make the cleanup and restoration process as seamless as possible. For more information on hoarding disorders, or if you think a family member or friend may be affected by a hoarding disorder, give us a call at 619-284-4239, or contact us at cleanearthrestorations.com.