Hoarding may be a fascinating phenomenon that keeps us glued to the TV, but it can also be a very real and serious struggle.
While reality TV shows like “Hoarders” publicize some of the worst of the worst hoarding cases, the individuals featured are not the only ones who affected by hoarding disorders.
Melinda Massie, owner of Ft.Worth, Texas based Organization with a Side of Fabulous said she works with all levels of clutter, including rehabilitating hoarders.
“The way hoarders accumulate their belongings is different – some dumpster dive, some steal, some shop,” Massie explained.
Noting that hoarding comes in many forms, she admits the issues behind it do as well.
“The reason for the inability to let go is different,” Massie said. “Some hang on to things because they see the potential and it gives them a bit of joy. For others, they hang on to things because it feels wasteful to let them go.”
According to the American Psychiatric Association hoarding is a compulsive behavior occurring in 2-5 percent of the population and often impairing social, occupational and other important areas of functioning. Hoarding can also cause hazard to both health and safety, creating fire hazards or areas the breed disease.
As owners of U Fill or We Fill Dumpster Service, Joe Schembri’s family sees hoarding cases daily.
While Schembri recognizes there are clinical terms used to refer to hoarding disorders, he said he prefers to explain hoarding types in more lay terms.
Their company has labeled its most common hoarding cases as collectors, memory holders, animal lovers and food lovers.
Fairly self explanatory, “collectors,” he said, believe everything is collectible.
“While some of their items may indeed be collectibles it’s hard to find it amongst the stacks of magazines, old cereal boxes, “vintage” ketchup, and more,” Schembri said.
“Memory holders,”on the other hand, care less about items being vintage and more about their sentimental nature.
“It could be [because of] the loss of a loved one or a rough patch in their life or even a great time in their life,” he said. They believe in holding onto things like a straw from a first date, their baby’s first toys and knick knacks from 35 years ago.”
“Animal lovers,” Schembri explains are the messiest.
“They love their animals to the point where they just keep getting new ones,” he describes. “The house is typically not big enough to house all of the animals and is usually covered in urine, feces, hair, etc. These hoarders don’t realize they’re doing more harm than good for their furry friends.”
“Food lovers,” he said, tend to believe they need to buy every single item that goes on deep discount.
“They’ll buy stuff that they don’t even like because, in their minds, someone at some point will need it,” he said.
In these cases,food often stacks up in the kitchen first, then makes its way around the remainder of the house.
Although strange collections help make people unique, and cherishing the gifts in one’s life is healthy, Massie and Schembri know first hand that hoarding is a compulsive disorder with potentially dangerous effects.