Social Question

Jude's avatar

Ever known a hoarder? Why do you think that people become hoarders?

Asked by Jude (32098points) August 31st, 2009

I’m watching “Hoarders” on A & E right now. Very disturbing. I’m just trying to understand the psychology behind hoarding.

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24 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Yes I have. When she wanted to sell her house, it took months to clean it out. She had pathways through the house, but every other square inch was filled to the brim. I’m definitely a packrat, but I don’t understand what happens to take someone from that to hoarding.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I’ve seen it. Some just can’t let go of anything. They find the idea terrifying.

Dog's avatar

It is really sad. Especially when they hoard animals.
(I have known animal hoarders. They mean well- in their mind they are saving the animals. But in reality the animals are suffering)

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Yes and it’s truly freaky in that they will become so comfortable in the closed in world of their creation even covering windows and creating additional walls from stuff, building upwards when they can fill up floor space any longer.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I have a cousin that’s a hoarder… he doesn’t think so, but you can only walk in the door and go one direction, like a little maze around the whole place. There is one walkway from the door to the couch, and that’s it. If one person is coming in and one is leaving, one has to stand at the door or sit on the couch until the other reaches them… they cannot even pass each other in the narrow walkway!

casheroo's avatar

I’d probably be one if my husband let me. I have boxes upon boxes in the attic of things I just can’t get rid of. It’s hard to explain, but I seem to put sentimental value on just about anything. I could never live in a junk filled house. I like my stuff to be in boxes, neatly when I can locate it.
My mother in law hoards the weirdest things, in my opinion….like chinese take out boxes, those plastic ones. She has TONS of them in her cabinet, and my husband teases her about it…she never uses the crap! Her house may look like a hoarders house, but it’s just because her children and ex husband keep their junk there. Poor lady.

benjaminlevi's avatar

The ones that I knew had severe psychological issues for which they sought no medical treatment.

dpworkin's avatar

It is a symptom of OCD, and it is treatable.

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

I’m a hoarder. =/ Or maybe just a normal packrat. I don’t know the proper distinction.
Fortunately I’m poor. Poor hoarders don’t have much stuff. And I can explain my behavior. Basically.. I have a really bad memory. I hold onto things that are closely LINKED to particular moments of my life. I use belongings as memory cards, so to speak. Whether it’s sentimental stuff, the “good ol’ days”, a happy spurt of moments, even some not-so-good memories, I hold onto it. I do throw out some stuff, but I can get pretty self-conscious about it. I feel guilty whenever I throw things away. Because I don’t like the idea of contributing to landfills, especially when it’s something that for all I know someone else might want, somewhere.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I could never be a hoarder…. when my storage closets get close to full, I box up almost everything and take it to the Salvation Army. This year my grandmother is having a garage sale, so I’m taking my stuff there first to give her a chance to make some $$ off of it. What doesn’t sell I’ll take to the Salvation Army afterwards. I can’t stand junk… I’m one of those who want every shelf, cabinet, drawer, etc. organized.

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

Ah, when the separate factions of OCD clash in battle.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@Piper_Brianmind You’re suggesting I am OCD, just an opposite obsession/compulsion? You’d be correct. It’s only a “problem” if you don’t like the way it impacts your life, and I do like the ways mine is affected.

Jack79's avatar

I guess I’m like Piper. I’m a hoarder generally (eg I never throw out magazines I’ve read, keeping them in case I want to find that article again in the future). But every decade or so I make the big decision and throw away all junk. I have however kept some crap from various times in my life (including toys from my childhood). I once had a girlfriend who was a lot worse than me. She’d keep all her old shoes, she was particularly fond of her shoes. She had a whole room just for them. And of course tonnes of clothes, books, old machines that no longer worked, etc etc

The logic behind it? It’s the “what if I need this?” logic. There’s always this idea at the back of your mind that throwing something away is a waste, since there might, at least theoretically, be a way to use it again in the future.

galileogirl's avatar

Not like the people you see on TV who live in filth and crap piled everywhere so you can’t walk through, but if you live in a place for many years you have a tendency to fill up closets and garage space. After being in my apt for more than 15 years I was using the spare room for storage, Bookshelves of paperbacks and textbooks, boxes of leftover yarn from projects, a closet full of clothes I no longer wore, linens from a twin bed I no longer owned, an old but working TV a couple of old chairs and a 30 yo baby dresser. I set aside a few days to go through everything and decide what to do with it. After ½ hour I said life is too short and called 1–800-JUNK. After an hour and a couple of hundred $$, I had a completely empty room.

5 years later it is still empty except for a blow up bed and off-season clothes in the closet and the desk that used to be in the living room. It’s just easier to discard a couple of times a year. If you haven’t used it in 12 months, out it goes

Piper_Brianmind's avatar

@galileogirl Nahhhhhh. Being a hoarder gives me an excuse to become rich and keep buying bigger houses. Wait til you see me on Cribs. ‘Twill not be for the feint of heart, tellyawhat.

Darwin's avatar

I have known hoarders, including a husband and wife who currently have 200+ cats, and I have a strong tendency towards being a hoarder myself. It is a constant battle for me to throw things out or just say no to that homeless kitten, but with Zoloft, talk therapy, and the book Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life, I am keeping things under control.

My parents were hoarders, too, but because of my father’s income they could simply get larger houses so the stuff ended up in closets. In their last house (6000+ square feet) my mother’s clothing closet was the size of most people’s bedrooms. When they finally had to down-size to move into assisted living they filled two industrial-sized dumpsters, gave away stuff, and split the rest between the three kids. They still have a storage unit full of stuff, too, but we are gradually carting it away.

Facade's avatar

My parents hoard things and then complain about it. I don’t know why.

benjaminlevi's avatar

Having two hoarders in my family has made me into a person who trys to keep as few possessions as possible.

dynamicduo's avatar

Oh I could tell you some stories about hoarding in my family. It’s pretty crazy! My grandpa is the best example of hoarding, he built smaller buildings on his cottage land just to store all the crap and shit he was keeping around (literally – newspapers, empty boxes and tins, all sorts of garbage). I think a lot of his hoarding came from his wartime upbringing where everything had value thus throwing things away was wasteful, even if the things saved were never used. Some of it made its way down to my father, and some of that trickled down to me. I have a habit of keeping boxes and containers, but I keep them with intent and purposes and use them/purge them. It’s pretty crazy though, how some people can find so much value in keeping around junk and things that no one, not even themselves, really care about.

Darwin's avatar

The Depression helped a lot of my family become serious hoarders, but family memories of past poverty many generations back is an important facet.

mattbrowne's avatar

Some people seem to be hoarding lurve points.

galileogirl's avatar

@mattbrowne Have you been looking in my closet?

mattbrowne's avatar

@galileogirl – Please don’t tell anybody ;-)

filmfann's avatar

My wife is watching Hoarders now, and it was making me so tense, I had to leave the room.
I work for the phone company, and sometimes while helping with repair, I end up in one of these homes. They freak me out.

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