In poker a full house is a good hand to be holding. In the theater world, a full house is one where every seat is filled. In everyday life a full house is one that is packed with so much stuff, you can hardly move and there isn’t much room for people. Usually the people that depend on having lots of stuff around them don’t have many friends around them. They seek comfort in their belongings and quite frankly do not have the time to even organize them. Their junk becomes a work in progress that really never gets tended to. It is not fine if others come in to help touch their stuff for fear that the strangers will simply throw out something of value or something sentimental. You are looking at someone defined by one word. Hoarder
There are millions of people who hoard things they have accumulated for years. It is estimated that up to 5% of the United States population has the problem of hoarding. Yes anything you do to an excess is considered a problem. The hoarding problem is equal to men and women. A new poll found out that a third of all Americans admit they have too much clutter in their homes. 4% of people say things are just fine and 12% people say that they don’t have enough stuff. This subject of hoarding has become so sensational that there have been many reality TV shows finding success in discovering hoarders.
Beyond the spectacle of the events hoarding has now been diagnosed as a mental condition. Earlier this year for the very first time, The Diagnostics statistical Manual of mental disorders essentially the handbook for mental health experts recognized hoarding as a specific disorder. The formal definition is someone who has difficulty getting rid of or letting go of possessions. Two major components of the disorder are that you accumulate way too much more than you need and you have a hard time saying goodbye to your things. There is a third component to the disorder that is equally important and that is the inability to keep it organized.
There is a book out there called Stuff by Randy Frost which offers a less clinical view on this subject of hoarding. He has been studying and writing about hoarding since 1990. The public has been fascinated by dramatic stories on the subject. Back in 1947 for example, there was a story about two brothers who were descendants of a wealthy family that made headlines that their dead bodies were found in their town house that was filled with stuff. No scientific research was done on hoarding until about 20 years ago. Now you can find plenty of people that have homes full of plenty of stuff. There is a whole storage industry that has popped up where you can put more stuff in these containers that you can rent.
You can rent stuff and buy and sell stuff on places like E Bay. Randy Frost’s observations have revealed some key findings. Hoarding affects people across the whole economic spectrum. There is even evidence that hoarding may even be inherited. Also that a significant number of hoarders suffer from depression and the region of the brain that determines the importance of objects shows abnormal activity when hoarders are faced when making decisions about dealing with their belongings. The cut off where you will find a sloppy and disorganized person to a mentally disabled hoarder is when the quality of their own life diminished to a point when they cannot conduct every day duties because of all the stuff around them.
There are companies that clean up and help hoarders get rid of their stuff but that may not really address the root of the problem. It might be just making more room for more stuff. So there are support groups now for people who need to discuss their habits and recognize what they are doing, discuss the reasons for keeping all their stuff and finally gaining the ability to let go and say goodbye. They need to establish very specific weekly goals. Even if it requires tidying up a very small area. There are always people who do not have success and still have their meals sitting on top of their mail. Groups are good to be able to discuss the why they do these things. When all the stuff around you becomes suffocating, you know it is then time to seek help or to do something about the problem.
Like with any other addiction, you have to make the choice to change with visible results. Words mean nothing unless you prove your words in your actions. Impulses will always be there but it is important to realize how you deal with your impulses and curb them. The urge to hoard is probably a lifelong struggle.