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Compulsive Hoarding Information, When Is Collecting A Disease?

April 08, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 177

Compulsive Hoarding is the great unspoken epidemic in the United States affecting as many as two million people. Compulsive hoarding is an uncontrollable need to collect a large number of things that seem useless or without value. It manifests as compulsive shopping, collecting, taking in cats and dogs, and saving free stuff like newspapers, magazines, magnets, pens, and even junk mail. Doctors tell us it is a form of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).

At this point you have to wonder where you cross the line from a natural interest in collecting and cross into sick compulsive pathological collecting. In extreme cases people have filled their homes with clutter and junk so much that it encroaches in the living areas putting much of their home off bounds. This manifests as two kinds of hording, the first type is instrumental saving. The hoarders believe that the items answer a specific need and have a purpose for them. The hoarding makes sense to them, for example they think they might sell the items in the future for a big profit. In reality they can't imagine parting with any of it. The second type of hoarder is the person who saves things for sentimental reasons. The possessions are actually a part of themselves as they have an emotional attachment to them.

Many hoarders believe they have to hold on to the things they are collecting because they might need it later. This is commonly done with old furniture which stacks up in attics and garages because you never know when it might be needed. Indecision may also be involved in hoarding. In this case the hoarder cannot decide whether the item should be thrown out or kept, so they keep it and avoid making a decision.

The most amazing part of this is that most hoarders don't realize that they have a problem. They cannot see their situation as anything but normal, they miss their out of control obsession. In these cases things go along until a concerned family member, a landlord, or the Board of Health intervenes.

Doctors treat compulsive hoarding with medications like certain antidepressants such as Paxil or with cognitive-behavior therapy. The therapist will take a number of steps with the patient to help him resolve the problem steps such as:

  1. Exploring the need to hoard
  2. Learning organization and deciding which to get rid of.
  3. Decluttering with the help of the therapist or a professional organizer.
  4. Learning relaxation.
  5. Group therapy.

While it is not normally a required part of treatment, in severe cases hospitalization may be necessary.

It can be difficult to deal with compulsive hoarding, as stated the person may not recognize that there is a problem even though his house is overflowing with junk. If you need to deal with the problem, the best approach is understanding. Help the person see that his actions are not in line with his best interest. Ask them what things are really important to them and how would you like your life to be in five years? It is not useful to argue, threaten, or blame them; you need to establish some trust. After some time you may be able to get them to admit that there may be a problem. This opens the door to introducing them to a professional to end their compulsive hoarding.

Sarah Johanson is a compulsive hoarding expert. For more great information on compulsive hoarding, visit http://www.hoardingcompulsion.org.

Source: EzineArticles
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