Confessions Of A Former Hoarder

Most people presumably watch the A&E show Hoarders to gawk at people who lack self-control and have allowed themselves to live in squalor. But then there’s another subset of the viewership, who watch because they see a little too much of themselves in the subjects.

Count Frugal Beautiful among the latter ranks. An admitted former hoarder who has managed to break herself of the habit, she provides some insight into the thinking of those who can’t stop accumulating clutter.

Although the reasons people have for hoarding vary, she figures that a major reason people become addicted to stockpiling is that they project emotional significance onto otherwise useless items. The act of willingly parting with something becomes tantamount to not only setting aside your past, but betraying it.

The writer was forced to change her ways when she purged her possessions in a cross-country move to attend grad school. While such bold maneuvers aren’t an option for all hoarders, the post could serve as inspiration to those who are stifled in prisons of their own making and looking for a way out.

Confession: I Watch Hoarders… And I Was One [Frugal Beautiful]


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  1. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I love this show! It makes me want to clean my house every time I watch it.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      Same. It makes me feel a lot better about the stuff I collect. (Back issues of magazines, mostly)

      “Wow… I mean, I’m bad about holding onto stuff, but at least I’m not that bad!”

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I should also note that I had to get rid of a lot of my possessions for a cross country move as well, and though I was not a Hoarder, I can totally understand the anxiety of getting rid of stuff. I was forced to pare down my 1br apartment into whatever I could fit into my car and it got very very hard.

      • Runner says:

        I’m getting ready to make an international move. I’m getting rid of everything that I can’t carry onto the airplane, and 3 boxes that I’m having a friend send me after I get there.

        I’ve spent the last 2 weeks solid on my garage alone. Boxes that I packed when I moved in, and really forgot they were there. Now I’m just looking through stuff real quick, throwing away, donating, or storage for it. 95% is making it to the trash dumpster.

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          Try It’s a great way to pass on stuff you no longer want and ensure it gets into the hands of someone that will use it. Better than it winding up in a landfill.

          • Bibliovore says:

            Or the “Free” category on Craigslist. If you have a lot to donate, especially if there’s also furniture, some places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army or local shelters may come to pick it all up at once for you. When time and energy permit, it’s great to have still-useful things get reused.

    • Don't Bother says:

      Same here. I like to watch it right before I clean my bathroom or my closet.

    • jeni1122 says:

      Me too! I am maybe a little on the too clean side, but this show always puts me in the mood to organize, especially for a larger project.

    • Qntmcat says:

      Personally, I can’t stand watching it, or it’s “parent” show Intervention. To me, it’s just like watching the “Animal Cops” or other SPCA Horror Tales type shows. These shows do nothing but cause the empathy parts of my brain to ache.

      I don’t understand how others can watch these types of shows. 10 minutes watching human or animal suffering and misery makes me feel like I’ve been mentally mugged, but it’s a self-inflicted wound. My only thought is that the watchers have less empathy, or are more strongly dissociative, than I.

    • Charmander says:

      I find it very disturbing (probably why I watch it) to see the people who are not only hoarders but who allow themselves to live in squalor – with feces, dead animals, rat poop, rotting food all over the floors. Imagine the smell in these places. Creepy.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        My issue with some of these shows is that they lump in the plain junky people with hoarders. There is a huge difference between living in squalor and hoarding. I’ve seen a few shows where the people were happy to clean up (with the free help of course) and get rid of their mounds of trash. They weren’t attached to much of it at all. They just are gross and lazy and don’t want to pick up after themselves. That is how my dad would be if my mom didn’t keep him in check. My husband was kind of the same way until I spent hours and hours cleaning his place while he was gone, and he came home and was thrilled and saw how nice it felt to live in a clean place.

        • Nunov Yerbizness says:

          Agreed. A fellow doll collector directed a bunch of people on our forum to watch the Hoarders episode last season about the woman who bought tons of cheap old dolls from thrift shops and then “surgically” restored them. There was no squalor, no filth; things were clean, just cluttered with dolls (also cluttered with her deadbeat adult son who complained that the dolls were taking up part of “his” room…hey there, Prince Charming, how about growing up, getting a job, and moving out of the castle?)

          And yet most reactions to this show were, “ugh, that’s disgusting” and “that woman is psycho and needs help.” Why? It’s her house, she’s an old and relatively poor woman who likes to collect and repair dolls, there’s not a lot else she can afford to do or enjoys, and she’s not endangering her health or living in squalor. Can we no longer even tolerate the harmless idiosyncrasies of eccentric neighbors? We can’t just let an old woman enjoy filling her house with dolls if that’s what she wants to do?

    • Kestris says:

      So glad it’s not just me. It makes me want to throw everything out sometimes.}:P

  2. dolemite says:

    Love the Hordak tie-in image.

  3. eturowski says:

    The A&E show is much better than “Hoarding: Buried Alive” (on TLC). It is such a guilty pleasure…

  4. necrosis says:

    Anyone see that other hording show?

    I think its on TLC called Extreme Couponing.

    • Cat says:

      Where’s the +1 button?

      • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

        You must work for Google, Cat.

    • comedian says:

      Who doesn’t need 100,000 calories worth of peanut butter, nilla wafers and juice boxes?

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      I love how it airs before the TLC version of Hoarders, too. Though, to be fair, last night’s episode showed someone EXTREEEEEEME shopping to get a lot of presents for some kids at a shelter, and that was all kinds of cool. That’s how you use your powers for good, people.

  5. crashfrog says:

    Schizophrenia can be understood as an inability to properly understand the significance of events – every insignificant thing that happens to you is interpreted as the most important thing that ever happened to you, hence the development of absurd theories to explain why finding a yellow piece of litter on the street is connected to the Republican primaries in South Carolina, or whatever – and I think hoarding can be understood as the inability to properly understand the significance of objects.

    Everybody would react negatively if your friends and family invaded your home and started throwing away your expensive electronics, keys from your keyring, perfectly good food from your cabinets, valuable jewelry, and all of your photographs of departed relatives. The problem with being a hoarder is that every scrap of garbage and useless trinket feels like it’s as important to you as your car keys and your jewelry. That’s why critiques of “Hoarders” as reflecting a consumerist society fall flat – people who hoard are exactly not consumerists, and hoarding is a failure to perceive, as the anti-consumerists do, that most of our possessions are valueless.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Hoarding is definitely part of a larger mental issue – its one of the anxiety spectrum disorders. A lot of the people go through a traumatic event and then begin hoarding (like the lady in Season 2 with all the 9/11 memorabilia because her brother was in one of the towers). Doesn’t make their pain better but they can justify it in their heads.

    • Don't Bother says:

      Dude, it’s Monday, you don’t have to think that hard : P

      Also: Bravo

    • Starrion says:

      I think it is that failure to perceive value that explains timeshare sales.

      My wife thinks that the sale value of the units that she bought are about 50% of what she paid for them. It is hard to understand that they are essentially valueless.

    • xjeyne says:

      It’s really all perception, isn’t it? Someone else might even perceive jewelry and car keys to be insignificant.

      • JennQPublic says:

        I have a hard time grasping the value of jewelry, particularly diamonds. I get that other people ascribe financial value to them, but I really don’t understand why at all.

        Pretty trinkets are pretty, but trinkets that cost as much as a car leave me very puzzled.

        • Conformist138 says:

          Why diamonds have a high value is pretty easy: they are rare (compared to many other natural stones), difficult to mine, difficult to cut well, and last a very, very long time (not quite forever, but close enough). That doesn’t mean everyone ascribes the same value to them, but the price is easy to understand from an economic point of view. Everyone understands that the only “use” they have in jewelry is as a status symbol showing you can spend money on something that is rare and expensive with no other functional purpose.

          And they’re pretty.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            there’s another matter of perception right there. i love my diamond dust tipped dremel bits but i think diamonds in jewelry are hideous

            • caradrake says:

              Same here. Diamonds just seem so… plain.

              My wedding ring (before it was stolen and presumably thrown away by my mother) had three gorgeous tanzanites. It came with a matching earring and necklace set which I still have and wear frequently.

              My ideal ring would have tanzanites, amethysts, and blue topazes.

          • alexhohio says:

            google Debeers and cartel, diamonds are not rare. They are just tightly controlled.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I am the same way. I couldn’t care less about diamonds. I have a diamond wedding band and that is it. I do have a few pieces of solid 14K cz stuff. Looks like the real thing 110%, but without the price tag.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        i get what you mean about perception.
        i have no problem getting rid of stuff, but i’m terribly disorganized. so things in my house aren’t always in the place they belong.
        but a friend who was trying to “help me out” started throwing stuff away, assuming i wouldn’t miss it. unfortunately she threw away a bag of hardware parts i’d just bought to repair my table – in the bag, with the receipt. and some stuff i bought specifically for a zombie movie shoot for special effects i had upcoming. i know most people don’t go around buying packages of dog squeaker toys so it would be hard to imagine needing them. but i’d gotten them for the centers of a jello “beating heart” effect and just hadn’t put them in the makeup box yet.

        the friend in question KNOWS i do FX because she hires me to dress her hallowe’en party every year, but wouldn’t recognize the tools of the trade. and since she calls me every time she needs something fixed and doesn’t own any tools, she didn’t see a bag of hardware as significant.
        fortunately i noticed what she was doing and saved my stuff so i could use it. but i’ve asked all my friends not to be “helpful” anymore since most of them would have no idea what in my house might be a film prop or something

        • Kate says:

          Wow, it’s hard to imagine having friends so presumptuous that they would dare to move items in my home, let alone throw something away. Such a friend would be out digging in the dump if need be or replacing said object with a new one immediately or they wouldn’t be a friend anymore.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            it was agreed in advance that i could use a hand organizing so that’s what she had come over to do. i just wrote it as “helping” because her help turned out to be counterproductive

  6. Driblis says:

    I would be a hoarder if not for my parents making me throw crap out all through my childhood. Everything I use for more than a day becomes special in some vague, undefinable way and i want to keep it forever.

    My apartment is getting sorta cluttered now that I live alone, but having to get used to throwing stuff out still lets me do it when I need to.

    Thanks mom.

    • Not Given says:

      Other people are hoarders because they were never allowed to choose what they wanted to keep, their parents just threw away their things.

  7. May contain snark says:

    I grew up living in a household with my single mom who was a hoarder. (I say was because she’s gotten a lot better.) It’s an absolutely terrible way to live.

    I think this is why I’m so obsessive about cleaning my apartment every week.

  8. Lethe says:

    I was always an anti-hoarder. I wasn’t a neat freak, but I was so determined not to be emotional about physical “stuff” that I would regularly go through my belongings and purge anything that wasn’t necessary. In high school I even got rid of a box of notes and letters my friends had sent to each other over the course of 4 years, just to prove I didn’t care (now of course I’d kill to get a glimpse at my thoughts back then). The only items I still have from my childhood are one cabbage patch doll and one ratty stuffed cat.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      That’s my mother-in-law. She trashed everything my husband was supposed to receive from his grandparents’ estate – furniture, photographs, needlework, books, everything – on the grounds that she assumes all possessions above the absolute bare minimum are useless and therefore everyone else must feel the same way. I’m honestly surprised her mattress is even on a bedframe.

      • hmburgers says:

        “She trashed everything my husband was supposed to receive from his grandparents’ estate – furniture, photographs, needlework, books, everything – on the grounds that she assumes all possessions above the absolute bare minimum are useless and therefore everyone else must feel the same way”

        She sounds like a real joy.

        Some little “useless” bits and pieces of my grandparents home are some of the most precious things I own. I have a tissue box holder with a design stamped into tin that my grandmother made–it’s atrocious and I don’t use it, but it evokes vivid memories of seeing it sitting on the coffee table of her living room during what feels like hundreds of family events. My grandfather had a bell on his garage door, every time we came to visit we were greeted by the tinkling of that bell as the automatic opener lifted the door. He and I spent hours in that garage and when I hear that sound now, the memories of being in that garage are as clear to me as things I did 10 minutes ago. Both items look like garbage, something you wouldn’t even sell for a dime at a yard sale.

    • BorkBorkBork says:

      I’m the same way. Partially due to being a college student who kinda lives out of a suitcase, I don’t really have room to keep a lot of physical stuff. Also due to me not being fond of my past – I prefer not to have items that remind me of the choices/people of my past.

    • lettucefactory says:

      I actually was pretty sentimental about objects as a child. But somehwere in my teens I got all anti-hoarder. Now I find that I actually have trouble creating a comfortable home as an adult because I hate clutter so much. For instance, I don’t want too much furniture cluttering up the place, but then I invite more than 3 people over and there aren’t enough seats.

      And like you, I’ve dumped large swaths of personal memories. I have exactly 3 photographs of myself from my early-mid 20s, and those were saved by a friend. Nothing from high school, nothing from my first marriage….I don’t recommend this approach, because one day you’ll feel nostaglic and you won’t have anything to look at!

  9. pop top says:

    “Most people presumably watch the A&E show Hoarders to gawk at people who lack self-control and have allowed themselves to live in squalor.”

    Hey Phil, I know that you don’t put much effort into your posts here but, mental illness isn’t something to make a witty retort about. I’m sure you didn’t do any research about hoarding as a mental illness and just wanted to throw in something funny but, your joke is pretty terrible.

    • Don't Bother says:

      I agree with you, for the most part. The majority of the people on that show do have a mental illness. There are some, though, who just refuse to take control of their lives.

      Hopefully Phil was commenting on the minority there. : /

    • Lethe says:

      Face it- the majority of people who watch that show aren’t inclined to want to help the people who are featured on it. I’m not saying that it’s a good thing, but he’s speaking the truth. The viewers of hoarders are basically watching it to be amused at the people with mental disorders who live in insane conditions.

      • Don't Bother says:

        I think it’s the description of hoarding she has a problem with, not the fact that we are terrible human beings for watching the show.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        When the people cry I always want to hug them. It’s scary being pack-ratty and watching that show, because if I were unaware of this I would so be like that.

    • Nyxalinth says:

      Maybe my sarcasm detector is exceptionally sensitive today, but I took his words to mean “This is how insensitive people who don’t care about the truth of the situation view the show and that these people represent most of the viewers.”

      Just my take on it.

    • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

      Well, that’s why I watch it. And for the smug sense of superiority I get from it, too. Good stuff! Those people are just nasty and lazy. It’s not an illness at all.


      But really, I do watch it because it’s kind of like a train wreck. You don’t want to look, but you can’t help NOT looking.

  10. ARP says:

    I have some hoarding impulses, especially when it comes to paperwork and magazines. I think they call it the lost knowledge type- you’re afraid that you’d be missing out on knowledge by throwing these things away.

    “I know read that article on the myths of the Laffner curve or the promise of nanotubes some day.”

    But that day doesn’t come and more and more things you want to read, piles up. Luckily, I can keep it in check by following mechanical rules (e.g. throw it away if I haven’t read it in X months).

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I have the same issue with magazines, ARP. One thing that is helping me is telling myself that I can find the same information on the Internet. Then I can throw the magazine away without worrying that I won’t be able to get the same info. Also, it saves money because I don’t need to subscribe to the magazine anymore. I can just Google it.

      I got rid of two large boxes of crap from the back room–including articles I had ripped out of magazines and pitched the rest. One thing that became very obvious over several years of doing this is that the magazines tend to publish the same type of articles over and over. So the information never really becomes lost, just rewritten.

      The exception is my dollhouse mags, but I have pared down so much other stuff that there’s now only one plastic holder with stuff in it rather than eight or nine. I won’t pitch them unless I use up the patterns within, or stop doing the craft.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      scanner. having a scanner [i use one at work that i can email myself from] has saved me loads of space for stuff like that.
      i still keep magazines that have major sentimental value, like some with articles about my mom’s artwork or that my sister was in.
      but if i just want a recipe or a tutorial out of a magazine i scan the relevant part and dispense with the rest.
      the library near my house has a magazine exchange/giveaway where people can trade out or leave magazines they don’t need. it’s a great way to get rid of a magazine when you don’t want it but don’t want it to be wasted.

      • ARP says:

        Thanks. That’s exactly what I’m doing. Luckily, I’m not out of hand. I have a stack of magazines maybe 1-2 feet tall, combined. So, I’m far from squalor.

  11. earhere says:

    Hoarding sometimes makes for a great museum! As in Tinkertown Museum! See for yourself. TinkertownMuseum(dot)com

  12. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    “Most people presumably watch the A&E show Hoarders to gawk at people who lack self-control and have allowed themselves to live in squalor. “

    Really? So now people with serious mental illness are just “lacking in self control”? People who are so mentally ill that some of them actually die as a result of their hoarding are simply “allowing themselves to live in squalor”?

    Fucking disgraceful

    • Doubting thomas says:

      sorry but there are too many people out there living, and dying, in abject misery due to circumstances completely out of their control or ability to get help for for me to spend my time worrying about someone whose own behavior is causing their own misery. yes it is a mental illness. That makes it very difficult for them to change or get help. It does not make it impossible.

      • Conformist138 says:

        How is a mental illness in their control? Do you know how hard it is to get a person who is mentally ill to take their meds, see therapists/doctors, and be proactive about getting better? The problem is, no matter how bad it gets, some are just unable to view the way they live as a problem, or they know it’s a problem but are able to entirely convince themselves that they have a good reason to keep every bit of junk and trash. It’s not a choice they made, it’s a malfunction in the way their brain reacts to anxiety and it manifests itself as clinging to objects, being convinced they are important, and that the objects are helping keep them safe, secure, and fulfilled. The further down the rabbit hole they go, the harder it is to ever get out. It cycles on itself as anxiety over both parting with an item and the enormity of it all crushes a person.

    • grimJack says:

      It’s not a serious mental illness. They don’t give a fuck about themselves or the people around them. It’s selfishness.

      • somedaysomehow says:

        You are SO wrong. Hoarding IS a mental illness, and a serious one at that. Do some research before you make blase statements like that.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        I am almost done with my Masters in mental health counseling, and it is considered an mental illness of sorts. One thing we have discussed is how it is almost like a cross between an addiction, and obsessive compulsive disorder. It is very difficult to treat and even those who undergo extensive treatment usually don’t fully “recover” and still hoard to some extent.

  13. Cat says:

    I, too, am a recovering ho…

    Wait… Never mind.

  14. Snullbug says:

    There are various degrees of hoarding. My parents always kept a neat and clean house although every storage area was fully utilized. After they passed away we found that they had thrown little away. Receipts for appliances long gone, bills for car repairs on vehicles long forgotten, WW II vmail, warranty information on articles my sisters and I could not remember ever seeing, and on and on. They had a large ranch style house and the attic and basement walls were lined with shelves, file cabinets and bins all full of carefully organized and useless minutia. It took weeks to go through everything and prepare the house for sale.

    My wife and I now live by the motto “if you haven’t used it in two years, get rid of it.”

    • RayanneGraff says:

      My parents do this too. They gave me their old house & left a bunch of stuff there, and I just never bothered to get rid of it. I regularly still find receipts from 20 years ago & my mom’s old makeup from the early 80s… I think it’s kinda cool though :D

    • Kestris says:

      I dread the day my dad passes and my mom moves out of the house I grew up in. The basement is packed with boxes, tubs, storage containers as well as the garage, of just STUFF.

  15. RayanneGraff says:

    I used to be a hoarder. For me it was all about keeping things for sentimental reasons, though I’m sure my autism, anxiety, and OCD played into it too. Little things like notes from friends, old clothes, empty perfume bottles, and my mom’s old jewelry were- to me- memories that I could hold in my hands & relive anytime I wanted. I wasn’t NEARLY as bad as the people on the shows though, my house wasn’t packed to the rafters, infested, unlivable, dirty, dangerous, or smelly. I just had lotsa stuff. I kept most of it in storage bins, keepsake boxes, or on display, but I knew where everything was and I used to love getting out a random box & going through it, just reliving all the good memories contained within.

    I lost most of it about 5 years ago when I was in the process of moving, though. The guy I was dating at the time went into my house while I was at work and threw almost everything away. Photo albums, keepsakes, MY JEWELRY(including 2 priceless, irreplaceable rings that were given to me by an old friend & my grandmother, who are both dead), basically everything that he knew MEANT something to me. He threw it all in a dumpster, making sure to smash or otherwise completely destroy everything in the process so I couldn’t dig it out. I was heartbroken. Yes, I knew I had a problem with holding onto stuff, but you don’t just destroy someone’s stuff like that! I felt violated, disrespected, belittled, and betrayed. I managed to save a few trinkets, but my most precious things were gone. I still hate him for it too. He became abusive later on, and I found out that his main motivation for ‘cleaning house’ was NOT to help me conquer my packrat problem, but because he was insanely jealous & wanted to completely erase my past. I think he would have completely cleared out my entire house if I hadn’t come home when I did. Ass.

    *sigh* I’ve broken the hoarding habit for the most part, mostly because I just don’t have the room anymore to accumulate stuff like I used to. I still like to have a record of my life though, and I find myself holding onto little things like movie tickets & whatnot. I miss my things a lot to this day, and it hurts to know I’ll never be able to replace all the photos, old diaries, old notes from my friends from high school, old videos, etc. Those were my treasures :'{

    • Don't Bother says:

      As someone who is very sentimental… that story is heartbreaking. I am so sorry. D:

      • RayanneGraff says:

        Thanks guys

        He put me through a lot for many years, but this was what hurt the most honestly. It was just a complete middle finger to me & everything I held dear… such utter disrespect. I would never DREAM of doing something like that to anyone.

    • pop top says:

      Wow, that is completely disgusting and I’m sorry you had to go through that. What a piece of shit.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      What. An. ASSHOLE.

      I’m so glad he’s out of your life. Now I want to find him and kick him really hard with my ice skates on.

    • kobresia says:

      The problem with those who would intervene or otherwise go on a cleaning binge is that they generally don’t have a focus on value, and they can’t tell what’s good from what’s junk. That is compounded by the the way sentimentality hoarders organize stuff, in that they don’t have an apparently means of doing so and it’s nearly impossible to tell the important stuff apart from the rest of it. If the intervention was vindictive, obviously that might not apply, but honestly, it’s just not the place of someone one is just dating to stage an intervention in the first place. Even if the person means well, it’s a ludicrous overstepping of bounds.

      That’s one of the big lessons I learned when someone intervened and trashed a lot of my stuff. Unfortunately, the stuff that got trashed had substantially more potential value than much of the stuff that didn’t. It’s worthwhile to make relative value obvious.

      Most important, though, is remembering that trinkets and such are NOT the memory and NOT the person or event you enjoy remembering. The memories will always be in a place nobody else can touch, so they can’t ever trample or throw them away. They will be with you until you get senile and don’t even remember who you are, but it’s moot at that point. Your memories are ultimately the only things that have the value, everything else will likely wind-up in the trash or passing into the hands of strangers who see them only with objective value at some point. That’s what keeps heartbreak out of parting with things or becoming sentimentally attached to objects not worthy of that level of devotion.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        Yeah, that’s one thing that I’ve managed to reconcile, that I still have my memories despite losing their triggers. Still sucks though :/

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        that is something i worry about, having multiple sclerosis- i may have my faculties long after i start losing my memories. so i do hold onto to photographs, although i’ve made digital copies of most of them now.

    • suez says:

      He becamse abuse AFTER he did that to you?? I’d say it was already happening.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        I count that as the first incidence of abuse, yes.

        • Dan T. says:

          The surprising thing is that you stayed together with him after that.

          • suez says:

            Yeah, I’ll admit, I don’t get it, either. He would have been the FIRST thing I’d rid my house of as garbage. I’d much rather live alone than live with someone who treated me poorly.

            • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

              It sounds like you’ve never found yourself in an abusive relationship, and I sincerely hope you never have opportunity to acquire first-hand knowledge. Unfortunately, while in the middle of such a relationship, it is often difficult to take an emotionless look at the other person’s actions, and thus difficult to realize that they have crossed a line into abuse.

              • RayanneGraff says:

                That’s exactly right. People always say “Why didn’t you leave at the first sign of abuse?” but they fail to realize that when you’re actually IN an abusive relationship, you often don’t recognize the first sign of abuse. When my ex trashed my stuff, I just thought it was a dick move but I didn’t see it as abusive. But looking back now, it’s easy to see that what he did was a major red flag. And even when you finally DO realize that you’re being abused, it’s still not as easy as just packing up & leaving. They’ll tell you that they do the things they do for your own good or to help you, and because you love & trust them, you believe it. Abusers will threaten to hurt you or your family if you ever leave them, and often there’s still a small part of you that holds out hope that they’ll see the error of their ways and if you just hang in there, things will get better.

                And in my case with my ex- he was the love of my life, and his abusive behavior was caused by mental illness. When we met 12 years ago it was love at first sight for both of us, and I’ll always love him even though I will never be with him again. He didn’t used to be abusive either; he was funny, thoughtful, and caring. His downward spiral was caused entirely by severe schizophrenia and several other mental illnesses. I watched him go from a normal, productive member of society to a paranoid, drugged up shut-in who thought I and many other people were part of a paranormal conspiracy against him. Destroying my stuff and the abuse that followed were symptoms of the onset of his illness. Don’t get me wrong- it’s not an EXCUSE, and I’m not trying to make excuses for him or anything, but his mental problems were what was behind the abuse. I stayed with him because I was scared, depressed, and because I honestly thought that if I just loved him enough & tried to help him stay on his meds, he’d get better & things would go back to the way they were before he got sick. It’s easy for an objective observer to recognize abuse, but when you love someone that didn’t used to act that way, you truly believe that there’s still a good person in there that just needs enough love to come out.

  16. kobresia says:

    The only hoarder show I watch is American Pickers. There are definitely people on there who have big problems with attachment to junk, but a lot of them are just tinkerers and wheelers & dealers. I tend to be the tinkerer/wheeler & dealer sort of hoarder, all of my stuff has a price, and almost none of it carries sentimentality pricing.

    It’s not that I fail to understand the significance of objects, it’s that I understand it all too well. I’m not a wasteful consumer who has a steady stream of poorly-made crap coming through his possession and is quick to throw it out, which seems to be the case with most people. I’m very good at recognizing value or potential value in things, and also very good at bringing out that value to sell what other people see as “junk” by either fixing it or salvaging useful parts & discarding the residual.

    It’s not about keeping trash, which I don’t do. I think what it all comes down to is the realization that things actually used to be made well up to just a few decades ago, and a broken but repairable old thing has far more value than a new, shoddy thing. Also, the things that many people think have value really don’t and never will (like all jewelry one can purchase at a mall, it mostly just has sentimental and scrap value), it’s almost always a small subset of the things that nobody thinks has value at the time, or the things that were painstakingly imbued with value that will hold and gain value.

    • ARP says:

      The question is, do you get around to fixing those things? Or do you have piles of stuff that needs to be fixed/repaired/repainted and it never gets done. Or do you acquire things at a faster rate than your repair and sell rate. That’s the difference.

      • kobresia says:

        I have some places that serve as storage kind of like a miniature warehouse, some that serve as repair queues, some that serve as essentially parts stores/junkyard, and some stuff that I’m actively trying to sell or discard. It’s all about finding the right time and conditions to sell something under. But generally speaking, I try not to have my overall volume of stuff spill out of their designated areas and I try to keep it moving in and out at about the same rate.

        It’s still a hoard though, there’s never been a good junk shop (my storefronts are generally eBay & Craigslist) that doesn’t have retention time in which some things just sit around for a while, waiting for their time to find new life and realize their value.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      The key difference is, can you let it go? There have been several hoarders on the show who do this very thing, but when the hoard gets out of control, their anxiety about parting with even things that are beyond any kind of repair or resale is extremely debilitating. They can’t even throw away a waterlogged car seat full of mice. They keep them because “I have this project and this, and I mean to get to it. It’s worth money [once it’s fixed, painted, etc.].” And then they never do it, but keep adding stuff.

      That said, if you’re really fixing and selling your things, then you’re probably fine. I would limit the amount of projects you keep around though. I know from experience it’s easy for that stuff to get away from you, especially if work, etc. starts taking up more time. I had to throw away several projects recently that were NEVER going to get done.

      • kobresia says:

        Everything has a price! Only things in my life that are not for sale are the animals, but the things that I need and use on a daily basis do tend to have a higher price because I’ll probably have to replace them.

        Funny you should mention mice, the vermin have ruined some of my stuff that did have some value over the years, but then when they fouled it with their disgusting filth, it lost all value and had to be discarded. Not necessarily a bad thing though, since it was not moving very quickly and provided a void in which I could put other stuff.

        • crashfrog says:

          OMFG. If you’re at the point where you’re hoarding animals, and where “voids” have value only as a place to be filled with things, you’re really at the danger level here. Your household presents a real danger not only to your own health but to anyone who lives there with you, visits, and even to your neighbors and community.

          Seriously. You’ve got a big problem. Call 800-969-NMHA, the National Mental Health Alliance hotline, and they’ll be able to connect you to someone in your area who specializes in these disorders.

          • kobresia says:

            I sense a little projection here, you seem to be trying to convince yourself of something.

            Yeah, I have 5 pets, two of whom are horses. Far fewer than most people who live on acreage have. Pets don’t have a price because they’re family. Things have prices because they’re just things.

            • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

              that’s definitely far fewer animals than animal hoarders have. and as long as they aren’t making more animals and are all healthy, you are in a good place.
              it’s a huge difference to have half a dozen well cared for spayed/neutered/gelded pets than it is when the cat rescue i volunteer with has to go deal with 83 cats living in one woman’s apartment, making babies all over the place, all starving because she can’t afford to keep them and dying behind the furniture before they are a week old from flea bite dehydration.
              i’ve seen animal hoarders, and you are not one

          • BorkBorkBork says:

            The problem, crashfrog, is that people like kobresia or others with this mental illness (in all ranges of the spectrum) do not consider/understand reason. They simply can’t be reasoned with.

            Things look ok from their end because that’s how their mind justifies it.

            Unless they get professional help via loved ones or an intervention, the behavior won’t change.

          • Kestris says:

            I think you’re reading way too much into things here. No where did Kobresia say they hoarded or collected animals, only that they have some.

            You really need to take a step back now. You’re dfigging a hole you may not be able to get out of.

    • crashfrog says:

      No, that’s exactly the problem you have – you drastically overestimate the value of your acquisitions. You’re not going to be able to fix all that stuff. Not even 10% of it. Of the 10% you’re going to be able to fix, you’re going to only be able to sell half of it. And the money you’ll make in doing so is a net loss when you factor in the value of your time spent not just fixing what you can sell, but picking through all the garbage and carting it home.

      Even the hoarders who hoard garbage don’t think they’re hoarding garbage. They think they’re hoarding useful, valuable stuff too. They’re exactly like you in that they feel like every little useless scrap of paper, every broken appliance, every piece of costume jewelry, every piece of rotting food (“I’ll just scrape the mold off!”) has an incredible inherent value that would make it foolish to get rid of it.

      Old things weren’t well-made and new things aren’t shoddy. That’s just a rationalization you’ve developed to justify your illness. I sympathize with you, particularly in regards to the story you told up above about your abusive boyfriend, but you do have a compulsive mental illness, you are a hoarder, and what you tell us here is just a little bit of clutter is almost certainly an enormous hazard to you and anyone else in your household.

      I know you won’t listen but it needed to be said.

      • kobresia says:

        I’m having trouble hearing what you’re trying to say over all the money I’ve made buying and selling “junk”.

        And let’s talk an example or two as to relative quality of things:

        Vornado Digital Vortex Room Heater. Made in USA, c.2010. Materials: Mostly plastic. Lifetime: 2 years, I threw it away last week when it broke. Original cost when I purchased it new: $80

        Electromode room heater. Made in USA, c.1950. Materials: Mostly metal and Bakelite. Lifetime: 60 years and counting. No idea what it cost new, it cost me nothing because I found it next to a dumpster. No repairs required short of oiling the bearings, it’s just old.

        Oscillating desk fan c.1990. Made of plastic, lasted 7 years before it stopped oscillating and motor burned out shortly thereafter.

        Emerson Electric oscillating desk fan c.1940. Made of metal and Bakelite. Still going, and somehow I still have all my fingers despite its safety-horror spinning metal blade and ineffectual blade guard. It just needed a new power cord.

        Maytag washing machine, c.1999. Materials: Metal and plastic. Lifetime: 6 years. Almost only 4 years, because I salvaged it when someone else discarded it. Fixed it, used it for 2 years, it broke again and I junked it too.

        Maytag washing machine, c.1970. Mostly metal. Lifetime, 40 years and counting. There’s not a washing machine made in the past 5 years that will outlive it.

        This is the problem with consumers these days. Vacuums with gimmicks are made of plastic, any 40-year-old Royal will outlive them many times over, and can be repaired repeatedly as needed. But what do people buy? Disposable plastic toasters and vacuums with gimmicks that break. Durable goods used to be things that would last decades, now they’re things that might last one decade, if you’re lucky. That’s why one of my passions is salvaging those vintage things that people fail to recognize the value of and sell them to people who are tired of buying disposable rubbish. But once those durable old things go to the dump or are melted-down because of a minor problem that’s easily repaired, they’re gone.

        • crashfrog says:

          That doesn’t prove they’re better, just that they’re older. Great, they still run. Like an old car. But even if, at top condition, it runs so poorly compared to a newer model – the way an old car is incredibly inefficient and low-power – that it may as well be broken, then the old junk is just junk, no matter what condition it’s in.

          • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

            I’m not sure that’s a good comparison, crashfrog. There have been huge advances in car technology, for example. But it’s not like there’s been such large advances in, say, desktop fan technology.

          • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

            Honestly, just apologize to kobresia and move on.

      • kobresia says:

        Also, I’ve never had an abusive boyfriend, you’re confusing folks here.

        I just commented on identifying relative value above. I have encountered hoarders indirectly from time to time, since one of my past occupations was trashing-out places, attending junk auctions & estate sales, and dumpster-diving with an eye to salvage & resell. There’s so much stuff that was obviously meaningful enough for someone to pay storage locker rent on to keep, but most of it is devoid of meaning or value to everyone else.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        nice how you judge people by your own abilities. i actually do repair and USE vintage appliances as a hobby. i finally managed to get other people to quit giving me appliances by just plain refusing to let their broken crap in my house. but about half of the appliances i own i obtained and restored myself. and use on a regular basis.
        just because you aren’t good at fixing up old things [or good at getting around to it] doesn’t mean other people aren’t.
        i’ve fixed up and given away plenty of appliances over the years too. my friends find it a pretty useful hobby for me to have when they need something fixed for the cost of parts.

        also – my 1954 dormeyer stand mixer is one of the most well made mixers ever. dormeyer went out of business due to lack of planned obsolescence. when i was first getting into appliance repair i was looking for parts for it from another guy who does it professionally and he told me he gets all his vintage parts from broken appliances – and he’s never SEEN a broken dormeyer mixer. so, yeah, some old things were actually well made. not all of them, but a few.

  17. Firevine says:

    Ms. Firevine gives me a hard time about this. I keep reusable plastic containers from cold cuts to take my lunch in, trays from microwavable lunches to feed my lizards with, shopping bags to line the small trash cans with, etc. I see it as practical. No reason to go buy storage containers for food, when one came with the food. It’s not like we’re drowning in them or anything. They don’t even fill up a cabinet, but she feels the need to mention the show every time I wash one out to reuse.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      just curious, as my sister and i both save/reuse those deli meat gladware containers and my roommate keeps trying to toss them – what does your wife expect you to use instead?
      it’s perfectly good gladware, the same stuff you can buy a set of for $20. and since the lids tend to crack after half a dozen uses at my house, they get thrown out then and never pile up too much anyway.

    • caradrake says:

      I do the same thing. Their lifespan really isn’t that long, so we’re replenishing them fairly frequently. And I don’t worry if my husband loses a set, as I would if he had the “good” containers.

      I don’t know why she complains! I also reuse the grocery bags. They’re perfect for the bathroom can, or for bagging up broken glass… we keep a couple in the car to bag diapers if we aren’t able to immediately dispose of them.

  18. tinyninja says:

    My ex-husband was a hoarder, and I’m immeasureably grateful for these shows, as now I can explain him to people.

    He’s just not right–not to the average observer, but I felt like I was married to the world’s most oversensitive 5 year old. Before these shows I was unable to explain what was wrong with him. Now I can say “Hey, have you watched those hoarding shows? Have you ever seen a scene where the meekest, mildest person you’ve ever seen gently asks the hoarder to maybe throw away a piece of garbage and the hoarder acts like they’ve been beaten?” People get it now.

    And he’s not anxious in the least. He seems to have the cognitive and reasoning abilities of a child. Not in an Aspbergery sort of way either. Doesn’t make decisions easily–day to day life was incredibly difficult, what with him not making decisions about routine things like what to have for dinner, but getting upset if the decision was made for him. He truly did not seem to understand that I had to get dinner going at some point, so he couldn’t dither forever. And no, I wasn’t a bitch. I have the demeanor of a kindergarten teacher, which I believe was the attraction for him in the first place.

    One of the books on hoarding, I think it was “Stuff”, touches on the cognitive issues and seems to dovetail with my experience.

    I really think it’s a case of children trapped in the bodies of adults in many cases–they can function in extremely structured enviroments like work, school, and the military, but fall apart when they don’t have constant direction.

    Yes, I think the shows are preying on the mentally unfit, but it’s so, so, important for the family members to see that *they* are not the crazy ones. Hoarders are expert gaslighters, and the manipulation needs to be exposed.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Oh God yes, the manipulation thing. Something I noticed watching the show also is that dealing with hoarders is the same as dealing with people who have eating disorders. The family members have the same reactions–anger, frustration, a sense of helplessness–as those dealing with anorexics. And for the hoarders the thought of losing control of their stuff is as terrifying as the anorexics who think if they have one breath mint they’ll blow up like a balloon. Sooooo difficult to get through to them.

  19. Darkrose says:

    I hoard computer parts. Mrs. Darkrose got mad about that until her video card crapped out on her and she had to finish an important report for work. It took me 5 minutes to locate a spare video card and replace so she could finish her report.

    • kobresia says:


      But when it gets so old it can’t possibly have use, sell your hoard of gold-containing obsolete computer components on Craigslist. I’ve been able to at least give away most of my old junk that way to people who try to recover the valuable metals. I tried it myself once, but just made a mess.

  20. eezy-peezy says:

    I have seen both of these shows (Hoarders and Hoarding) and I agree that many of these people are dealing with mental health issues. I am very surprised there is never a discussion of meds, which can be helpful in many similar issues such as OCD.

  21. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I think the shows are straying from showing hoarding to downright “turn your house into a landfill because you don’t want to take out the garbage”.

    Hoarding is keeping every Lancaster Farm Newspaper for decades, stacked to the ceiling, or every piece of clothing you were ever given or purchased because you might need it someday.

    Hoarding is not turning your kitchen into a landfill because you won’t throw away coffee grounds, paper cups, and rotten food because you are too lazy to throw it in a garbage can and take out the garbage once or twice a week.

  22. lunasdude says:

    I grew up with two parents that horded, one was worse than the other.
    My Dad would (still does sometimes) stop on the side of the road to pick up an old hat, cooler, lumber, whatever and bring this stuff home.
    Mom was not really that bad but had her own issues.
    It has slowed down a lot since there both in there late 70’s.
    I was never like that as a kid and now as a 48yr old adult I get STRONG reactions to something that hasn’t been used for a long time and go on a big purge a few times a year.
    Thank God for freecycle, those people love me!

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i did stop on the side of the road the other day to pick up a perfectly good headboard [really, i wouldn’t have taken it if it was broken]
      – but it went right into the storage shed where the donations are for the fundraiser yardsale that the charity i volunteer with is holding next month. i won’t pick it up if it doesn’t have an immediate place [the storage shed designated for sale items] and value. if we can get $10 for it we can help an animal hoarder get a cat spayed.

  23. ansjc09 says:

    When I was younger, my parents would make us help clean the house every Saturday and once a year, the entire house was cleaned, even to the point of wiping down walls and completely removing furniture to vacuum every inch of carpet. That type of cleaning every year helped in deciding what I really wanted to keep. Now, my boyfriend turns on hoarders and laughs as I start cleaning the house – maybe my clean house will offset the bad juju of the hoarders’ houses?

  24. alexhohio says:

    I need there to be two distinct terms- one for hoarding stuff/things/items/collections, and another for keeping trash/garbage etc. Having 50,000 dolls in boxes is not the same as piles of spoiled meat in your living room

  25. alexhohio says:

    read this article from the Atlantic. If you believe diamonds are rare or have inherent value, you may have your mind altered… :)

    • kobresia says:

      Yeah, it’s funny how the things people generally view as having lots of value and are convinced are some sort of an “investment”, like almost all jewelry, are actually worth very little. They lack intrinsic value since they’re purely cosmetic, and most jewelry isn’t of sufficient quality to be considered investment grade due to a lack of history, non-rare materials (it takes a relatively huge diamond to be considered an unusual and thus valuable rock), bland composition, and mediocre, mass-produced craftsmanship. The only investment with jewelry is in the person you might be giving it to and how it makes them feel about you, but even then it seems to be silly and wasteful to not find something else to build a memory out of.

      But this is also the case with many so-called “collectibles” which are marketed as such. Those Dale Earnhardt plates? Only worth anything if one likes NASCAR and can eat off of them. Franklin (or other non-governmental) “Mint” coins? Not even worth a fraction of their imaginary face value, much less the retail value one paid. As a general rule, only the things people never thought of as collectible at the time become collectibles.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        i had to explain perceived value to an IRS agent once during the height of the beanie baby craze. she couldn’t get how something bought for $5.99 could sell later that afternoon for $15 and how something bought last month for $5.99 [and then retired] could sell for $200-$800.
        i mean, yes, my boss WAS cooking the books. but not on the beanie babies

        • kobresia says:

          I feel a little sorry for some of those “collectors” who found themselves holding the bag after that Beanie Babies pyramid scheme, which is really what it became. Contrived scarcity is good for hype and hysteria, but over the long run? Beanie Babies and other such things are likely to only be worth maybe twice their original MSRP if one is lucky once the furor dies down.

          I suppose perceived value was also the root of the problem behind the dot-bomb bubble, the housing bubble, and just about any other bubble. Once the non-intrinsic value is peeled-away, there’s not much left but disappointment and tears.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            not even that. the semi annual cat rescue fundraiser yard sale gets beanie babies donated by the bag. most of them end up as cat toys because we can’t sell OR give them away. in the past at the yard sale we end up with so many toys left that every kid there for the last two hours of the sale just gets a free toy for showing up. they don’t want beanie babies

    • failurate says:

      Awesome article. Wish I had seen it 5 years ago.

  26. MikeVx says:

    I tend to assume that those hoarding shows are faked for one simple reason. The staff continue to be among the living. When they stop making these shows because it is safer to work on the bomb squad, I’ll believe they were real.

    I’m working my way out of a tendency to accumulate clutter. Unlike some, this was caused by a mother who tossed out things with no concern for perceived value. I am slowly clearing things out. Easy it ain’t.

    As for paperwork, I’ve long since taken to classifying paper into two categories. Paper that for legal reasons has to be saved on that actual paper, and paper that needs to have the information saved, but the paper itself has no legal reason to exist. The latter get scanned, and periodically, the files are bound into archive files, compressed, encrypted to the teeth, and mirrored on file lockers. The originals are then shredded and tossed. USB sticks are so large that multiple redundant copies take little room. This gives me the current equivalent of several large file cabinets stored in a physical space smaller than a can of soup. Paper that fails to fall into the two above categories gets shredded without scanning.

    Books and magazines are not considered paper for this thought process. Books tend to remain unless damaged, magazines get chucked in the recycle bin unless there is something useful in them, then I scan the articles I need, and bin them.

  27. kataisa says:

    I watch “Hoarders” because nothing else inspires me to clean so thoroughly.

  28. Mrs. w/1 child says:

    I always like to watch a Hoarders episode on netflix before cleaning and organizing. It primes me to make it easier to throw away 30 plus cute pieces of artwork (finger paints, markers, crayons, etc.) my daughter makes. She is prolific and can turn out 3 -7 creations a day.

    Of course each one is precious and I want to save them all – but I watch a “Hoarders” and realize I could become a crazy lady buried under moldy yellowing finger painted papers. Also, it makes a a breeze to freecycle all those cute but cluttering gifts and such you get from family and things that “you are gong to use someday.”

    Hubby loves when he comes home and I have primed myself with a Hoarders episode. *grin*

    • caradrake says:

      We have a wall near the front wall that has become our “art wall”. When my kids make a drawing, it gets taped to the wall. When the wall is full, Everything gets taken down and tossed, and they make new creations. It usually gets cycled once a week or two.

      It’s a good system for showcasing their art (they are 3 and 5, so it’s age-appropriate), without building up too much clutter. We appreciate it while it’s up, and realize that there is plenty more where it came from. :)

      I am also keeping one good representative piece from each year, so they can see them all in one place when they get older, and how much improvement they’ve made.

  29. Starfury says:

    The UK had a similar show…How Clean is your House and some of the people there were hoarders.

    My parents moved from CA to HI and had to get rid of stuff before they moved. They were by no means hoarders..the house was always spotless and never cluttered BUT under the house they had stuff. Like a box full of pieces of wire..none more than 2 feet long. bits of hose, Bonsai stuff, camping gear, and water skis…from the 60’s. I’ve done my best to not save “junk” like that and have done pretty good…mostly because I don’t have a shed or under house storage.

    I still can’t get my wife to let me sell off the punch bowl set we’ve had since 1994…and never used.

  30. Outrun1986 says:

    I think I may have some hoarding tendencies, but I don’t really have a problem with throwing things out. In fact I have cleaned up most of my childhood clutter single-handedly without any help from anyone. I have also cleaned out 2 closets that were piled with garbage. In fact, I want to throw out the junk, and things that aren’t useful because then that gives me more room to have the good stuff and the stuff that has monetary value. But honestly, if I had to throw some things away that I don’t really want to right now, I don’t think it would bother me very much as long as the items aren’t something terribly expensive or something that I am using right now. If I had to get rid of all my stuff my choice would be to sell off everything on ebay, and at least get the most out of it that I could. I wouldn’t like it much if I was forced to sell at a yard sale, because you only get pennies on your dollar. Watching my things turn into real money wouldn’t be bad at all.

    I was pretty bad as a kid though, mainly because my parents left behind a lot of junk that I had to clean up. So it was my stuff on top of the stuff that their siblings left behind before moving. I didn’t clean it up till I was halfway through college. But even then it was never so bad that I could not walk through the rooms, and I never had spoiled food or bugs or anything like that.

    Selling on ebay has really helped me declutter, and I actually have more room than I have ever had. I once had room that was totally piled over aka hoarders but with the help of ebay, selling my stuff at a yard sale, and donating the room is now clean and is a very nicely organized TV room. Though I have to wonder if my buyers on ebay are hoarders!

    There are so many hoarders in this city, every couple weeks there is a story in the paper about them, its usually not discovered until they get sick and the paramedics need to get into the house to rescue them and can’t because of the piles of stuff.

    • kobresia says:

      If they’re paying money for things, they’re euphemistically “collectors”, whereas if they’re just not throwing anything away and can’t part with even the most worthless junk, then they’re hoarders. Also, if nobody is interested in taking something, even for free, that’s usually a good tip-off that it’s worthless and probably should not be kept.

      I think you’re spot on in thinking “it’s not okay to throw away good stuff just because I don’t have a use for it right now”, that’s just wasteful. It’s healthy to evaluate the serviceability of something and if it still has consumer value, find someone else to make use of it (donate, sell, etc.). If it only has scrap or salvage value, recycle it or sell it for parts. Obviously, if people will pay money for a good bit of your stuff, it does have value.

      Being gratuitously wasteful in a disposable society isn’t a sign of prosperity, it’s a sign of stupidity and selfishness.

      • Outrun1986 says:

        Yeah, I also prefer to give something to someone, rather than donate it to the thrift, where it might get thrown out anyways. Even if the person throws it out in the end, at least I tried. This sometimes means things sit around a little longer but I always donate them in the end. If no one wants something, or the item is broken, then it is definitely in the donate or throw away pile. Once again, getting rid of trash means more room for the good stuff! The more organized I am, the more likely I am also to find uses for my stuff, if I know where everything is and its all organized rather than thrown into a pile or thrown into one large container then I can access it easily when I need it or when I think of something to do with it.

  31. retailriter says:

    I notice many times that the hoarders don’t appear to have jobs they need to go to. Many times, there’s no mention of a job or gainful employment. Sometimes having too much “time” on your hands can lead to problems. If you have a 9-5 job, you don’t have a lot of time to “hoard” things, and you sure don’t have time to take care of a house full of cats and dogs. Constructive work can be a good thing.

    Just something I’ve noticed.

  32. Lynne in San Diego says:

    It’s astonishing how many people are willing to condemn 3 to 5% of the population based on “facts” that are nothing more than their own personal opinions. How many of you here are doctors, psychologists, neurologists, medical researchers or therapists?

    People who hoard have a measurable neuropsychological disorder. Their abnormal brain activity is easily visible through positron emission tomography (PET scans). Brain studies show that people who hoard have lower metabolic rates in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain responsible for motivation, focused attention, error detection, and decision making. The also have significantly more activity in areas such as the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain.

    No one asks for this kind of illness, and no one who has it likes it. Most people with the disorder live with shame and isolation. People who hoard know there is something wrong with them, but they cannot control their compulsive hoarding unless they get treatment. Expecting a person with the disorder to stop hoarding is just as fruitless as expecting a person with one leg to walk faster.

    What you see – the filled-to-the-brim homes and yards – is only a symptom of the disorder, just like body aches and fever are symptoms of the flu. Treat the hoarding disorder and the symptom clears up, just like if you treat the flu, the symptoms clear up.

    Above, I mentioned 3 to 5% of the population because studies show that this is the number of people with the disorder. That means millions of people have it. They are from every socio-economic class, every race, and both sexes.

    Because of degrading, uninformed comments such as those here, those millions of people are reluctant to reach out for treatment, or to ask for help from the people closest to them. Who wants to make himself or herself vulnerable to ridicule and contempt? This does nothing to help the people with the disorder, their friends and families, and or society.

    I urge all of you to find out about this disorder before you make your jokes and assume you now what is happening in people’s heads or homes. The best source for information on the mental health disorder of hoarding is the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation The Foundation has a large section devoted to hoarding:

  33. Outrun1986 says:

    One tip is if you have a ton of papers, and this has helped me a lot, get one or more of those expanding file boxes or folders, they REALLY help to organize all the papers and receipts. They are small in size, you can fit them almost anywhere and they hold a lot of papers. One is more than enough for all my papers and receipts. This way you won’t have papers everywhere.

    Now excuse me while I go throw out the giant pile of trash in the other room that appeared after cleaning so I don’t become a hoarder.

  34. Vitae says:

    Unfortunately I’d consider myself a borderline hoarder. I have a hard time letting go of things like old toys and games, either because I have memories attached to them, or because I think they’re worth something (*they’re not.), or because I think it will be useful at some point.
    I’ve learned to put those feelings aside and trash old crap I never use or donate the toys, etc. I manage my hoarding to where it does not become an issue for my husband and I (my husband is definitely not a hoarder), and I can keep some of the “most important” stuff as long as it’s organized.
    I can completely understand however, on an emotional level, what hoarders feel.

  35. Claybird says:

    Hoarders is much better than any other show about addiction/mental illness on A&E or TLC…pretty much every reality show is about exploitation.