Earlier this week we looked at how people who have a compulsive hoarding disorder might be less likely to create an estate plan, and how hoarding an interfere with the estate planning process. The more we thought about it, and the more we realized how common a problem hoarding is, we wanted to go back and cover some additional information about this potentially harmful phenomena. Having a better understanding of what hoarding is, how to differentiate it from other potentially non-harmful behaviors, and how to go about getting treatment is important.
Hoarding and Collecting
A lot of people enjoy collecting things. Whether its fine art, antiques, movie memorabilia, sports collectibles, or anything else, finding and building a collection that you enjoy is something that many find rewarding. On the surface, hoarders and collectors might seem to share a lot of the same common traits. For example, both of them seek out and acquire property that other people might not desire or find particularly valuable.
However, there are clear distinctions between collectors and hoarders. First, a collector takes a sense of pride and ownership in the collections they have acquired. They tend to talk about the things they own, express their joy in finding the right item, and have a passion for their collections. Hoarders, on the other hand, tend not to talk about the items they buy or keep. Hoarders tend to acquire possessions but do not necessarily feel a sense of pride or passion, and can often feel the exact opposite, feeling trapped or burdened by their possessions.
Second, collectors typically display, organize, clean, and manage their collections. They typically take time to ensure that the items they have are as good-looking and well-maintained, as they can be. They will usually display at least some of the items in their home, or show them off to others with a sense of pride. Hoarders don’t usually behave this way. The average hoarder doesn’t display or inventory his or her possessions, or display prized possessions.
Beyond the difference between hoarders and collectors, people with a compulsive hoarding disorder tend to exhibit other behavioral traits. Hoarders will often experience a functional impairment because of the clutter in their homes or living environment. They tend to be suspicious of other people touching their possessions, feel overwhelmed or embarrassed by their acquisitions, and can even be socially isolated or removed from friends and family because they are so embarrassed or fearful of having people visit them in their home.
Help for Hoarders
Compulsive hoarding is often a very difficult problem to deal with both for people who have it, and their loved ones. Getting past the problem in dealing with the emotions involved with it is often a prolonged process that can involve extended psychological counseling. Simpler steps, such as learning new stress-coping or decision-making strategies, attending group therapy sessions, or asking friends and families for assistance can also be helpful.