In June 2018 the World Health Organisation (WHO) released its new International Classification of Diseases (ICD11) and hoarding is now classified as a medical condition.
“Hoarding disorder is characterised by accumulation of possessions due to excessive acquisition of or difficulty discarding possessions, regardless of their actual value. Excessive acquisition is characterized by repetitive urges or behaviours related to amassing or buying items. Difficulty discarding possessions is characterized by a perceived need to save items and distress associated with discarding them. Accumulation of possessions results in living spaces becoming cluttered to the point that their use or safety is compromised. The symptoms result in significant distress or significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”
These definitions have been written by Hoarding Disorders UK, any use of them is by agreement only.
The following definitions normally affect one person which in turn, affects a whole family. Hoarding Disorders UK has developed a unique 8-Step Plan that can help you and your family with any of the following:
When you have a loss of a relationship or a bereavement the items that are kept become an extension of yourself. You may feel violated and personally abused when someone removes, moves or throws your items away, because you see them as a physical part of you.
When you are living in a reactionary way, bills are not being paid, there is no order in your home, papers and mail get left to pile up. This can sometimes happen due to a trauma or event in your life which has taken over. Being organised is a skill, if you haven’t been taught this either through childhood or as an adult, it can get too overwhelming.
When all parts of your life, work, family, friends, relationships are up in the air and it is too difficult to make a start on how to move forward. Not wading in the jam, you feel completely stuck in the jam.
Collecting only needs attention from professionals, when you can’t use the rooms in your house for their intended purpose. Collectors can collect anything from fine art to empty bottles or plastic lids or things of a certain colour or texture. Collectors collect all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons.
Empty Nest Syndrome
When your children leave home, this can trigger a feeling of grief, depression, loss of purpose for parents and/or loneliness. This, in turn, can lead to hoarding tendencies, chronic overwhelm and being disorganised. Children can be a distraction to a failing relationship so when the children go there needs to be something else to fill this space of loss and lack of purpose. Empty Nest Syndrome can lead to replacing the children with things to keep you occupied when you are no longer full-time parents. Help is at hand to reform new relationships with the changes that have happened when the children are getting on with their lives.
Due to the recent economic changes since 2009 to 2013/14 we have seen a significant rise in the number of people suffering from Hoarding Disorders following redundancy. Another life-changing event that can have a huge impact if not supported correctly at the time it happens.
Sometimes in life, we have something that happens that is traumatic. Traumas vary from person to person and the severity of one trauma can be massive compared to how it is viewed and felt by another. Life changing events can sometimes trigger hoarding tendencies.
Compulsive Hoarding is a Mental Disorder marked by an obsessive need to acquire and keep things, even if the items are worthless, hazardous or unsanitary. Since May 2013 ‘Hoarding’ is a recognised disorder.
There are many reasons why one starts hoarding, including lack of things, living in poverty for a period of time, i.e. wartime or poverty as a child, grief, loss of a partner, breakdown of a relationship.
Hoarding Disorder affects the whole family as rooms cannot be used for their intended purpose. Trying to live like this for a family is frustrating on a daily basis as the most basic of needs such as cooking, using the bathroom and sleeping are hugely affected. Children of hoarders suffer in all sorts of ways both physically and emotionally.
People who are affected by hoarding have an emotional attachment to the things they keep, this is extremely difficult for children and other family members to understand and live with.
From Help For Hoarders website
Symptoms may include a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions (regardless of the value others may attribute to these possessions) with strong urges to save items and/or distress associated with discarding, and the accumulation of a large number of possessions that fill up and clutter active living areas of the home or workplace to the extent that their intended use is no longer possible, i.e. you can’t cook in the kitchen or sleep in the bedroom. Symptoms may also be accompanied by excessive collecting or buying or even stealing of items that are not needed or for which there is no available space.
It is worth noting that whilst some hoarders have good insight into the problems caused by their behaviour, others are completely convinced that their situation is not problematic, despite evidence to the contrary. These sufferers are often reluctant to seek help for their problems, causing great distress to family members. Sometimes, when possessions and clutter spill over to communal areas, e.g. front and back gardens, neighbours may be affected too and councils may be forced to intervene.