Hoarding disorder is definitely not something that is new. Unfortunately, only in recent years has it become monitored by qualified professionals such as researchers, social workers, psychologists, fire marshals and public-health officials.
At the moment the disorder is considered an emerging condition but it is certain to grow with the ageing population. The main reason why is that even though hoarding begins in adolescence, it can worse with age. Particularly after the death of a partner or another personal crisis.
An example of this is a woman called Sandy Stark. She loved to collect pretty things when she was a girl which included unusual rocks, birds’ nests, crooked sticks and dolls. As an adult, she gravitated to white ceramics and china, paperweights, kitchenware and art. Eventually her apartment became so full of these items that she could only navigate it via what she called ‘goat paths.’
At this point her two daughters came in and completely cleared the place out. All of her treasures were gone. Stark says she felt traumatized when she saw her apartment and this inspired her to, rather than maintain the space she had been given, immediately begin reacquiring things with a vengeance:
“You’re pulling everything in around you, building the hamster’s nest, building the wall. Part of it is for the high. It’s an addiction, sort of. But it’s also to fill a void. It fills a lot of void.”
Within 18 months Stark, who was once so organised as she supervised payroll for the Pacific Stock Exchange, could barely navigate the way to her bedroom. Everywhere she turned, there were boxes. She was going on 60 at this point and her life had become defined by “the hoard”.
Suffering from hoarding disorder is different from merely living amid clutter, experts note. It’s possible to have a messy house and be a “pack rat” without qualifying for a diagnosis of hoarding behaviour. The difference is one of degree. Hoarding disorder is present when the behaviour causes distress to the individual or interferes with emotional, physical, social, financial or legal well-being.
If you’d like to read more about how serious this disorder is, continue reading below:
Remember, if you or someone you know is suffering from hoarding, you can contact us at www.facebook.com/CloudsEndCIC for help.