When you hear that word, what do you think? If you are like many Americans with cable TV, you might think of reality shows featuring impossibly cluttered homes and the people who inhabit them.
This is not a fleeting phenomenon. Millions of people are afflicted with this difficult, often heart-breaking, disorder. It’s now listed in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Since I have a background in ministry and counseling, I was eager to learn about it, and how to help those affected. I learned there are many different types of hoarding, from animal hoarders to information hoarders — up to a dozen different types.
No matter where you go in this country, there are people affected with hoarding disorder. The promptings and acting out of their disorder are remarkably consistent. Almost every person affected with Hoarding Disorder has experienced a significant life trauma, a life event from which they have never sufficiently recovered. This is why one should never physically clean a cluttered home without the assistance of a counselor, therapist, advocate or coach. The cluttering and/or hoarding is just the symptom, not the entire issue.
It can be so easy to label a person a hoarder without taking the time to learn about their history and needs. After all, despite how they are living, they still need love, support, and help.
As I continue to learn more about how to help those affected by all aspects of hoarding disorder, I have begun a non-profit called Master Your Disaster to try to educate others about what I believe are reasons and remedies for this lifestyle. In the months to come, I will be sharing insights about this malady and what we can do to help.