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poofandmook's avatar

Do or have you known a hoarder?

Asked by poofandmook (17022 points ) May 9th, 2010

My grandpa was a hoarder. We had a big piece of property on 3 streets in a regular old residential neighborhood. Half of it was the house and yard, and the other half was “the lot” as we called it. On the lot was a 3 car two story garage/barn type thing. It was packed full. The yard was full. If he saw something interesting in the garbage, he would take it home. Garage sales were his favorite thing on the planet. The town constantly threatened to lock him up if he didn’t clean up. And my dad and I lived there to help my grandmother with him (rapidly declining dementia too)... so the neighborhood kids made fun of me a lot.

When he finally succumbed to the dementia and we couldn’t take care of him anymore (he wandered off a lot), and he went to a nursing home, it took a couple of years to clean it up.

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53 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

I am a hoarder. :) Not extreme, but maybe a 4–5 on a scale of 1–10. I come from a family of mild to moderate hoarders. I’m not as bad as the people you see on T.V. but it does complicate my life.

poofandmook's avatar

@lillycoyote: the lot and the garage, and our basement, and the back porch, and the two-car garage on the house looked like the stuff on TV. My grandmother fought tooth and nail to keep that out of the living areas. Walking into the house, you’d never have any idea. Open the basement door, or the garage door, or the back door though, and it was like another dimension.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

A grandmother of mine used to be the fussiest, most exacting person and then one day she turned into a hoarder to where the inside of her house has dressers and cabinets picked up from all over stacked upon each other. She makes her own dividing walls and “little rooms” she decorates with the seasons or her whims. Her yard is her husbands “junking” domain where he stacks stuff he brings from auctions and whatever. The whole places reeks of mothballs, Pinesol and Avon perfumes so our family tries to visit only when necessary, like a few times a decade.

Draconess25's avatar

My mom says I am, but she’s the only person who thinks so.

gailcalled's avatar

My mother used to drive around in a Mercedes while wearing a fur coat. She parked only when she found a meter that already had money in it. As a kid, I sat in the back seat and cringed.

To this day, she saves used tea bags in little dishes in the refrig. My sis and I find these dried-up brown things all the time.

shego's avatar

One of my friends who lives in Cali, has 10 acres of land, and a house. She is very sweet but most definately a hoarder. Her dad began the collection of (if I remember correctly) 20 cars, and 10 campers. Then, he got into drugs, and filled the house with stuff, so much stuff that I think there are several mice living there. And now she has the property, and has filled eight acres with stuff that she finds during big garbage week. The city is threating to come in a clean it up, and charge her up to $50,000. I feel kind of bad for her, but she and her father just love to collect stuff, and they can’t stop.

Ltryptophan's avatar

My family are hoarders. I am a repressed hoarder and if I were given ample money, I might die in an avalanche at my house.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I used to be quite a pack-rat. My ex-wife asserted that I had no idea what I had or where it was.
When I needed something, I could go straight through the jumble and put my hands on exactly what I needed. That did not please her. Of course, nothing ever did.

Since I sold my house, I keep many fewer things. I can still find what I need. I’ve become a great recycler.

jeanmay's avatar

My dad is the classic example, and unfortunately for him, he’s passed it on to his three kids. It’s got to the point where he has had to rent out a storage space in a local facility to help accommodate the things us kids have left at his place. My sister has bags and bags of clothes and shoes, some of which still have the labels on them. I have truck loads of books, an impressive back-catalogue of National Geographics inherited from my grandparents, and huge bag-loads of baby clothes from my son. My brother is doing a little better, although he insisted on keeping a massive “For Sale” sign that he stole from someone’s front garden early one morning (he had bumped into the band Muse and didn’t have anything for them to autograph, so grabbed the nearest thing).

My dad grumbles about all this on a frequent basis (and well he might, poor bloke), but seeing as his house is overwhelmed by his collection of books and Tilley lamps (including one this big), he hardly has a leg to stand on!

TexasDude's avatar

My best friend’s dad has several barns filled with random crap, including 200 sinks that Ruby Tuesday’s didn’t need, over a thousand antique corn bread molds (which he should sell, those bastards are worth about $200 a piece!), and a large collection of taxidermy squirrels.

This is assuming you can find all this stuff under the random papers, clothing, broken VCRs, pinball machine parts, and other detritus that litter the barns.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My great-aunt was a hoarder. She passes away when I was 12 and I remember it taking us about a week of nonstop work to clean up her house and yard. Her house had one clear path for walking, all of the other space was taken up by the stuff she had kept over the years.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Maybe we could resolve the economic crisis by bringing the treasures hidden in hoards back into the market place…It is your civic duty to clean out that trash!

gailcalled's avatar

To the hoarders and would-be hoarders here.

Pity your heirs.

lillycoyote's avatar

@gailcalled You have empathy for our heirs but none for us?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Fluther Hoarders vs OCD Fussies- it’s going to be a rumble!

faye's avatar

My daughters say I am. I have gotten rid of a lot of things this past 2 years, since cleaning out my mom’s house when she passed away. She had 4 dead old batteries on shelves downstairs. I can see the 12 pairs of jeans on my closet shelves. There are some pairs in drawers, but it’s because they are ‘slim, normal, and fat’ jeans. I find it very difficult to get rid of coats, too.

tranquilsea's avatar

My mom was a hoarder, although not as bad as the ones you see on tv. The only thing that saved her from being like some on tv was the fact that she moved every 10–15 years. She would chuck things then. When she died we took 14 loads of crap, and it was crap, to the dump right off. My hubby and I spent another 6 days sorting stuff and taking it to the Sally Ann. This was just 4 years accumulation.

The very sad thing about her hoarding tendencies was how often she lost precious things because she would think, “I have to make sure this is ok. Oh! Here’s a nondescript shoe box that I think will fit the bill.” And then she would later, at some point, throw that box out.

Because she was such a mess, I became an ultra organized person. I cried and cried when I was organizing her stuff after she died as I had wanted to organize her my whole life and the only time I got to was when she died.

MissA's avatar

A lot of times, it’s a learned behavior, much like an eating habit. That’s why Type 2 diabetes runs in a family…or, some forms of heart disease. In that case, a family has to come together, decide they need help and get it.

Sometimes, it takes intervention from the outside…which, can be more than a notion. Especially, if tempers flare when the hoarder(s) feel threatened because someone is taking their “security” away.

However, if the ‘hoarding’ truly isn’t hurting anyone, try to understand the thinking behind it. Perhaps someone lived through the depression or some other time of hardship. Having ‘things’ around them gives them a sense of comfort, safety and empowerment over their domain. Realize it’s ‘their’ home and respect that.

And then, some see the potential in everything around them, from old flower pots to people. They want to keep it all. They never give up on anything. When it’s you they never give up on…it’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

lillycoyote's avatar

@MissA I don’t know if anyone knows exactly what causes hoarding. I think in some cases the behavior is so pathological and intractable that I don’t think it is just about habits and learned behavior, but I think you’re right, I think that can be part of it. I was raised by parents who both lived through the Great Depression and came of age with the recycling wave and the first Earth Day and I think those mind sets have certainly influenced my attitude toward and my relationship with “stuff.”

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’m probably considered a hoarder. If I buy almost any item, I immediately start accumulating spare parts, etc for it. I tend to keep things far beyond the time span that most people do; manufacturers love to force people to buy new things by not stocking replacement parts after only a few years. I have several large rooms with nothing but shelves full of spare parts; farm equipment, car and motorcycle parts, radio tubes, valve kits, motor brushes, etc, etc.

I also do the full “survivalist” bit with preserved food, seeds, ammunition and reloading supplies. When Armageddon hits, my friends are heading for my “bunker”. I’m now experimenting with making my own biodiesel and alcohol fuel.

Ludy's avatar

Is weird cuz I think I am, I don’t wanna be like this but sometimes it makes me happy to be surrounding by all this stuff I have in my house, even if I never use it or even touch it, just knowing it’s there I feel secure :( bittersweet ha

RedPowerLady's avatar

My mother is a special type of hoarder. I read about it once. They “know” they are a hoarder and have been told so. So instead of hoarding for themselves. They hoard and give it away a piece at a time (meaning they have a huge pile at home that is intended for this person or that person). My mother is always coming to my house trying to give me this piece of junk or that piece of junk. Sometimes it will be something awesome and we take it, i’m sure that is what keeps her coming back. Argh!

YARNLADY's avatar

I have a very difficult time parting with items that I believe will be of use to me in the future. I am a crafter, and I can make ‘anything’ out of ‘everything’, so it is hard to part with things.

I do not believe I fit the term ‘hoarder’ because the things I save can be used, but I am open to the belief that all so-called hoarders believe that. It is very painful for me to throw away things that are ‘useful’.

The worst part is to have to buy something that I once had, but had to throw or give away.

TexasDude's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land, Hey, I’m learning how to make my own biodiesel too!

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Make sure you have a good respirator with the right filters. It’s a simple process but gives off some nasty vapor.

loser's avatar

I used to be a hoarder. For me it satisfied this weird urge to hunt for things as well as livening up my day with some special new, or new to me, things. Basically, a distraction from my life. It also brought me a sense of security. I thought that if “something happened”, (What, I don’t know) I would be able to survive anything if I just had a lot of stuff. Seriously, I filled a garage, overfilled 2 rooms, every closet, and even stacked stuff outside. Then after a major life change followed by the biggest garage sale in the world, a call to the Salvation Army to come take what they wanted, and a few trips to the dump, I became free!!!

But, I still have to fight the urge.

@poofandmook That must have been so hard for you. Especially being teased as a kid. :-(

YARNLADY's avatar

I hate when I need something to finish my latest project and I remember that I gave it away or threw it out.

perspicacious's avatar

Yes, he fills up houses, then buys another one to start on. We have been laughing at him for many years.

augustlan's avatar

Yes, a family member needed to downsize her home after living in the same place for 20+ years. She tried to get it cleaned up on her own, only to eventually abandon the house. In the end, she moved to a new place, and we had to hire laborers to come in and clean out her old place, dumpster load after dumpster load. At the time she moved, she had just one narrow path through the house, while every other square inch was piled high with stuff… including trash. It was pretty awful.

The really sad thing is, she bought a beautiful new place, and within months it had all started up again. :(

I’m a pretty big pack-rat, myself. If left completely to my own devices, who knows how I’d end up. Luckily, my husband and kids keep me somewhat in check!

partyparty's avatar

I suppose I could be called a hoarder, because I keep things ‘just in case’.
I can guarantee if I throw something away, then I will need it in just a couple of weeks.
I try to clear my wardrobe twice a year, but again I think ‘well it might fit me next year’, or ‘I really like that top/dress – I might wear it again’.
So can I be a part hoarder?

gailcalled's avatar

@lillycoyote: Re; testamonials;

Hoarders hoard, which is the easy part.
Heirs stuff, go to the dump, call the Salvation Army, list on Craig’s list, leave on curbs and thrown out Nanny Wald’s oriental pearls, which were hidden in the collection of old plastic supermarket bags.

partyparty's avatar

@YARNLADY I can certainly empathise with you there !

gailcalled's avatar

edit; throw out

Ludy's avatar

after reading all the answers it leads me to think that being like this could be called an addictive behavior?

poofandmook's avatar

@Ludy: Actually, hoarding disorder is a form of extreme Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Ludy's avatar

so that means I have mental problems? or what? is there a cure? =(

poofandmook's avatar

@Ludy: Mental problems is a rather harsh way of putting it. Millions of people suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. In fact, there are two million people in the US alone who suffer from hoarding disorder, so if you are a hoarder, you are certainly not alone. Look at the people here on Fluther alone who admit to having hoarding problems.

There’s no cure, but it can definitely be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy and help/tough love/support from family and friends. Also, a professional organizer, if one is available, is a really huge help. In severe cases, there are some medications that help with OCD, but continued therapy is the single most important treatment.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ludy I don’t think a personality disorder is the same thing as mental problems, unless you class people who bite their fingernails down to the quick in the same category.

poofandmook's avatar

@YARNLADY: That’s an OCD thing. The biting also typically indicates anxiety as well. I do it. I don’t bite, but I trim off every bit of extra nail (the white part) that grows in. If I can see white, my nails are too long. I trim them every Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday my fingertips hurt on some fingers. Then come Monday, I trim again.

OCD is so common, I wouldn’t think of it as a “mental problem” until it was debilitating. Small OCD things, like me with my nails, certain things having to be “just so”, alphabetical order, symmetry, etc… they’re minor and don’t generally cause a problem in one’s life.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I think there may be a difference between being a full blown hoarder and stocking up in case of extreme (however unlikely) emergency. That being said, there is probably some “gray area” between both.

Silhouette's avatar

My husbands father was a classic hoarder. Saved everything and was so emotionally attached to his junk he alienated his entire family over it. He died in a pile of rubbish and it was two days before he was found. His junk and his attitude about the junk was the death of him. Very sad.

wilma's avatar

I struggle myself with a few mild issues like some of those mentioned.
I have no problem throwing away real trash, but if something is still useful, I like ti recycle it or give it away to someone who can use it.
I like to “collect” things and so I have a lot of stuff.
I also have a hard time parting with clothes and have had some, that I still wear, for over 30 years.
I recently cleaned out my closet and found that I own 49 turtleneck tops. (Not counting the 6 turtleneck sweaters.) I did mange to get rid of 7 of the tops, but that still leaves me with 42. I’m not sure, is this odd?

gailcalled's avatar

@Wilma: By my standards, it is. But I have become a minimalist. If I haven’t worn something for two years, out it goes.

Draconess25's avatar

@wilma Don’t worry; I have over 70 t-shirts!

YARNLADY's avatar

@Draconess25 You counted them?

augustlan's avatar

I don’t think I have 49, let alone 70, anythings. Ok. I do have thousands of books.

Draconess25's avatar

@YARNLADY And organized them by colour.

Aster's avatar

I hope the nice family members who tried to pass me off as a hoarder are happy now. I can’t find 50% of my things since we moved. I won’t say the movers stole them; they evaporated. I do admit to giving ½ my clothes to charity. That is a Lot of clothes!

jazmina88's avatar

i tend to be junky…..and not organized….

I used to have a “paper fetish”, but I worked on it.

Too many clothes and I hate all of them.

But you can walk through rooms and nothing is piled to ceiling.

If you want to come clean….hop on in.

ThereIsNoNormal's avatar

My mother, her mother, and an ex-husband of mine were all hoarders. I did not start out that way, in fact, I found the behavior maddening and frustrating. I finally quit caring about the “mess” my life had become based on the needs of others I could not understand and they could not explain. But, after I gave up on trying to change their behavior, I started to understand it. In our cases, we had all been abandoned multiple times. I believe that holding on to these items is a form of validation that they exist. A validation they needed and did not receive from parents or spouses. It also gave them a sense of control of being able to hold onto a moment in time. The object somehow prevented that moment from ever changing or being abandoned by it, even if people left. I don’t know if that made sense to anyone out there. I prevent it in myself, and I see it lurking, by constantly reminding myself that memories, life, people and love can not be objectified! Peace and contentment to us all! :)

YARNLADY's avatar

I am. I hate throwing things away. I keep boxes and boxes of craft items, even though I quit crafting a few years ago. I have been able to gradually give some things away. I gave away a bag of button just yesterday, and several boxes of fabric to a charity quilt club last month.

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