If you are like many people, you have at least some understanding of what is meant by hoarding. Your understanding of hoarding may also be distorted to some degree by some misperceptions about what is involved in hoarding. One area in which a good number of individuals lack an accurate understanding in this area is in regard to terms and terminology. For example, the terms hoarding, cluttering, and collecting have definite and specific meanings which members of the general public may not fully understand.
Hoarding disorder is a mental health diagnosis. It is found in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (also known as DSM-5). Hoarding has been recognized as a mental health diagnosis since the early part of the 21st century.
Medically speaking, hoarding disorder as a mental health diagnosis is defined as the “persistent and chronic difficulty parting with possessions regardless of monetary value, accompanied by a strong urge or desire to save the items even if they are unusable at present. Difficulty discarding results in the accumulation of items that congest active living areas such as the living room, kitchen, bedroom, and hallways to the point where safety can be compromised. The hoarding behavior causes clinically significant distress that can complicate social, occupational, or other forms of functioning.”
In defining what are known as the diagnostic criteria for hoarding disorder, the DSM-5 points to certain features that typically are present in people who do have this condition:
- The first of these diagnostic criteria is the level of insight or awareness exhibited by a person with hoarding disorder. There are some people who do have hoarding disorder who have a good or fair amount of insight. In other words, they are aware at least to some degree that a problem exists in regard to hoarding-related practices, behaviors, and beliefs. On the other hand, there are individuals with hoarding disorder who have poor insight into their situation or condition or lack such insight all together. These individuals have no concept that a problem exists in regard to their behavior. These people harbor such a believe system despite what oftentimes is an abundant amount of evidence to the contrary.
- The second of these criteria is a consideration of a person with hoarding disorder’s excessive acquisition of items or the compulsive need to continue to acquire things. Acquisition continues even though there is no space left in the residence to store things. Moreover, a person will make acquisitions even when he or she lacks the financial wherewithal to do so. Many people with hoarding disorder simply are unaware that problems associated with acquisition of things even exists.
Cluttering and hoarding do have some similarities on the surface. They both represent situations in which a person has amassed too many things in their residence.
There is a significant difference between cluttering and hoarding. Because hoarding is a mental health condition, the assistance of a counselor or therapist is nearly always necessary to address a hoarding disorder.
On the other hand, while hoarding and cluttering can look somewhat the same on the surface, an individual does not need mental health counseling as a general rule to address cluttering. Rather, cluttering is resolved with organization and some effort on the part of the person who has cluttered.
At its essence, cluttering involves the accumulation of stuff to such an extent that living spaces in a home are somewhat impacted. One of the distinctions between hoarding and cluttering is that a person who clutters nearly never has the same amount of stuff as an individual with hoarding disorder.
Collecting differs rather significantly from cluttering and very significantly from hoarding. Collecting involves the intentional coming together of items. These items are collected due to their sentimental, historical, or monetary value.
Collecting differs from cluttering inasmuch as cluttering is the haphazard keeping of stuff. Collecting differs from hoarding because hoarding is amassing things – including stuff that has no real value whatsoever.
There certainly are instances in which collecting gets a bit out of hand. If collecting truly gets out of control, it could rise to the level of hoarding behavior. It may not further cross the line and be classified as hoarding disorder. There are situations in which a person’s conduct is hoarding behavior, but he or she may not have met all the criteria associated with hoarding disorder.
Dealing With Hoarder Property
Unlike the home of a collector or clutterer, the residence of a hoarder nearly always needs professional support and assistance to get it back into a wholesome and livable condition. Eco Bear is an example of a company that has the background and professional team with the ability to fully and safely remediate a hoarder property situation. This includes eliminating any biohazardous material that may have accumulated at the site of the hoard.