Collecting or keeping things is part of our human nature; we do this for us to preserve the sentimental value behind everything we keep. We collect items such as dolls, cars, watches and the likes because it gives us the satisfaction of seeing things that we like. The art of collecting involves organized and careful handling of things, which makes the collections very pleasing to the eyes. Collecting things with purpose is done in a more organized and rational way.
Excessive collecting does not simply refer to messy or cluttered homes, but rather to the collection of items that are both useful and not useful to the collector. In these cases, excessive collecting creates chaos and danger wherein rotting trash and debris are sometimes among the items saved. — Erica Zadakis, MFTC
When Collecting Is No Longer Fun
However, this is not the case for people with Hoarding Disorder, a subtype of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, wherein people find it hard to let go of things, which they think will be useful in the coming days. Every time they have this urge, they keep every random item and bring them home. Hoarders feel distressed when the idea of getting rid of something fills their mind. The manner of how they keep objects is quite far from the usual because the items are just cluttered that can even cause danger, However, they do not recognize it as a danger. Hoarding may start from simple to bizarre random things kept unorganized and cluttered. The items are stored everywhere in the home causing an eyesore and eventually may cause health and safety problems since the home becomes unhygienic and at risk for a fire hazard. Imagine living in a cramped house full of unwanted things, scattered everywhere occupying every area in the house until you are left with a narrow pathway. You might just probably want to stay outside instead of staying in a place where you can no longer feel safe.
Maladaptive beliefs about, and extreme emotional attachment to, possessions may also contribute to a person’s hoarding behavior. People who hoard have an exaggerated sense of responsibility for their possessions, and desire complete control over them. — Becki A. Hein, MS, LPC
Hoarding Cases Beyond Understanding
Unbelievably, hoarding disorder can be horrifying when the person has gone through the extremes of keeping things. There are instances wherein people hoard stuff beyond impossible like:
- A woman who’s been holding fecal matter for 12 years and what makes this even worst, is that she’s been eating her poops as well.
- The case of Terry who struggled to let go of her cats and ended up keeping 100 dead cats with her. Some of these dead cats were found in her fridge where she stored her food as well.
- Most of us would become hysterical over a single rat that passes by. However, this is not the case for Glenn; he has been enjoying the company of 2500 rats for years.
- Living with the dead, for four years Janet Pallone Delatorre has kept her dead mother with her with the thought that police might condemn her for killing her mother. Janet has been hoarding things and she left her mother buried in a stacked pile of unusual objects.
- For two decades, their mansion was piled up with debris, newspapers, furniture, and musical instrument, which later imprisoned them that they could no longer pass through because their house was already jam-packed with clutters. This is the fatal case of the Collyer brothers, trapped in their home and died eventually.
Researchers continue to search for effective treatments for hoarding, while Americans continue to be captivated by extreme accumulation on TV. In a culture awash in anxiety, worry, and fear, if accumulating things becomes a way to deflect and manage those feelings, the stack is likely to get bigger and bigger. — Gregory L. Jantz Ph.D.
These are just a few of the many extreme cases of hoarding, a condition which can be life-threatening if not properly treated. The signs are obvious – collecting and keeping things that don’t give importance and significance to their daily living activities. Immediate mental help is needed and the person should be referred for mental assessment and treatment procedures.