Are you a Hoarder?

Are you a Hoarder? Probably not! After almost eight years as a declutterer/organiser, I have met very few compulsive hoarders. Many of my clients say to me: “my husband/wife is a hoarder”; or “I’m a hoarder”, but nine times out of ten hoarding is not the problem. It usually boils down to the fact that they’re holding onto too much stuff, and while they realise they need to declutter, it can be easier said than done. When someone is trying to do it on their own it can become overwhelming and this feeling most times will bring them to a complete standstill.

I’ve been researching Hoarding because it is becoming a real problem in many societies. Here are a few interesting facts from some of my research.

[This information was adapted by Dr. David Tolin from Steketee & Frost (2003), Clinical Psychology Review, 23, 905-927.]

Do You Have a Compulsive Hoarding Problem?

1. You regularly hang onto a large number of possessions that most other people would not consider to be very useful or valuable. For example, many people with compulsive hoarding problems hang on to things like:

• Junk mail
• Old catalogues and newspapers
• Things that might be useful for making crafts (although you don’t actually get around to using them for that purpose)
• Things you think you might want to give to others as gifts (although you never actually give them)
• Clothes you think you might want to wear someday (but you don’t actually wear them)
• Broken things that you think you might want to fix someday (but you never actually get around to fixing them)
• “Freebies” you pick up

2. Your home, or parts of your home, is so cluttered that you can no longer use those parts of your home for their intended purpose. For example, many people with compulsive hoarding problems have:

• Beds they cannot sleep in
• Kitchens they cannot cook in
• Tables they cannot use for dining
• Chairs or sofas they cannot sit on

3. The clutter is bad enough that it causes significant distress or impairment. For example, many people with compulsive hoarding problems report that they:

• Cannot have friends or family over to their homes because they are so embarrassed by the clutter
• Cannot let repair or maintenance professionals into their homes because they don’t want them to see the clutter, so things don’t get fixed
• Keep the shades drawn so no one can see inside
• Get into a lot of arguments with family members about the clutter
• Are at risk of fire, falling, infestation or eviction
• Feel depressed or anxious much of the time because of the clutter


I found it interesting reviewing these items because although I’ve stated earlier that most of my clients are not ‘compulsive hoarders’, many of them have experienced at least some of these problems. Compulsive hoarding is usually generated by compulsive shopping and/or collecting. When we keep shopping and bringing more stuff into our homes, without getting rid of anything, then the home can become very cluttered and chaotic.

It’s worth looking at what you specifically hang onto, and this may be specific types of items such as clothes and shoes you no longer wear, books and magazines you’ve read and know you won’t refer to again, papers which can either be recycled or stored away if they have to be kept. I’m a book lover so I know what it’s like to not want to let go of special books, however I regularly look at my book shelves and once they are becoming over-stuffed, then I start the culling process.

Please don’t feel daunted if you’ve ticked off several of these items above. Many of the items under no. 1 can be handled through a decluttering process. Again, the bullet points in no. 2 can also be resolved by organising where everything can stored away, and discarding what is no longer needed i.e. clearing the surfaces, which I often talk about. The points in no. 3 are really the pain points where the entire family may be affected by the clutter. And this is what we need to bring ourselves back to: how is the excessive clutter affecting our day to day lives?

If you get stuck, please feel free to email or call me, I’m happy to answer any questions and provide encouragement if you’ve come to a standstill. I am also an expert at decluttering and organising peoples’ homes and would love to help you. Contact me for a decluttering session, in a few hours we can make a huge difference to your home.

As always, I wish you a wonderful month ahead, with joy and blessings.

In Joy!

Angella Gilbert

P: 09 410 4166
M: 027 224 8937

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