Most people know of a home in their neighborhood where the home is obviously overflowing with clutter. Some homes begin to not function and contents spills out into the yard. Most people have no idea where to turn to for help.
Hoarders (television show on Monday nights) has created an amazing buzz in my world of professional organizing. Each 60-minute episode of Hoarders is a fascinating look inside the lives of two different people whose inability to part with their belongings is so out of control that they are on the verge of a personal crisis. Certified Professional Organizers are featured on the show, especially Geralin Thomas of Metropolitan Organizing http://metropolitanorganizing.com/. As the clients and CPOs work together, public viewers watching are touched in a unique and powerful way. Viewers identify with many of the challenges faced on the show. The attachment and emotional issues make an impact in a way no family member can! It is a powerful agent for change to have a new outside perspective on people and their stuff.
Over 10 million people in the US have clinically significant hoarding. This equates to 2 – 5 % of the population. The average age at treatment is 50. They tend to be single and have a high rate of divorce. They tend to live alone and there is usually a family history of hoarding. Onset usually occurs in childhood but does not become severe until adulthood. Hoarding affects people regardless of socio-economic level. As recently as last year in Houston, a River Oaks couple was unable to be rescued from their home due to hoarding. http://www.texas-fire.com/2009/01/17/houston-fire-kills-houston-neurosurgeon-wife/. What defines hoarding? http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/531200/ Hoarders have a brain disorder resulting in an all-consuming compulsion to collect that often cuts them off from society and damages their relationships. In severe cases, clutter can get so out of control it can cause complicated medical issues, endanger lives and create safety hazards.
The best help for those with hoarding issues begins with collaborative therapy with a counselor and a certified professional organizer or (CPO or CPO-CD). There is a workbook available to begin the process, Buried In Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving and Hoarding by By David F. Tolin, Ph.D., Randy O. Frost, Ph.D., and Gail Steketee, Ph.D. How to help a family member with this illness? Seek professional guidance to begin the process. There is hope and help for you and your family.
Clutter Hoarding Scale
Obsessive Compulsive Information Center
Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Hoarding Disorder