A new view

This site is our most recent outgrowth from what we have learnt and observed in our work at Cluttergone.

We are familiar with the available literature and many of the studies done and ongoing on compulsive hoarding.  Formal research is still very new.  The earliest studies we have been able to find are from early 1990s.  Read more about the research into compulsive hoarding.

As experienced hands-on declutterers we've come up with some new views and ideas on compulsive hoarding that we would like to share.

Read on for more:

  • A spectrum of clutter.  Not just A-Z, but B through Y.
  • Anger and compulsive hoarding
  • Genetic connection? Or just don't know how to do it?
  • A moment of release.  Cluttering to feel better.

Not just A-Z, but B through Y

As professional declutterers we see lots of different kinds of clients.  Some are people who have one small area that is easily sorted in one session.  Other clients present more complicated situations both with their belongings and their life stories.  A few are compulsive hoarders.

While most of the people we see are not hoarders, there are some who we would describe as being 'at risk'. As yet, their homes have not seized up into the completed clog that characterises a compulsive hoard, but there are signs of hoarding behaviours. It would be facile to say “If they hadn’t called us now.....” It would be more correct to say that had they not identified a problem and had the courage to start addressing it, they could easily have slid further and allowed it to get worse and worse.

It is possible to say that we are all on a continuum starting with the person who is comfortable with their belongings at one end and the compulsive hoarder at the other. Many people we see are concerned that they might be hoarders but are not sure how to identify the red-flags.

Clinical studies have focused on clinical compulsive hoarders, those at the far end of the clutter spectrum.  Clinical compulsive hoarding doesn't happen overnight, it develops over many years or decades.   We see people not just at that far end of an A-Z scale. We see B through Y, too.

Anger and compulsive hoarding

The disorder and build up of belongings can be a combination of circumstances and trauma, but sometimes anger is part of it. We see places where people have’ trashed’, where the anger in their lives is taken out on their homes. Most people have experienced crumpling up a bit of paper in a moment of anger and flinging it on the floor. Imagine doing that so frequently that you start to think, it doesn’t matter what or how much is thrown on the floor. It is not going to make any difference one way or the other.  Even if the problems started from trauma, anger can compound what is happening?

Genetic connection?

Some research is now focused on genetic connections in hoarders. Hoarding can run in families. However, we do see another result of having a hoarding parent(s); offspring who are not actually hoarders but because they have never had a model for living in an organised uncluttered home, don’t know how to do it. They don’t know how to sort or weed out unwanted items. If there have been any personal traumas and/or anger, their problems are compounded.

What is both interesting and exciting for us is that these clients move forward very quickly, once they understand how to do it.

A moment of release

Listening to a hoarder describing an acquisition: something they’ve bought or found is illuminating. Their accounts sound very like self harmers describing the moment of harm and the small moment of release it brings. The self-harming literature lists many of the same psychological disturbances as accompany hoarding.  The hoarder will talk about that moment of release, that moment that they feel better.  They may know that bringing more things into their home is not going to help but they still do it.

When we work with clutter clients, often the first thing they do is to stop comfort buying.

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