Clutter can take many forms, from a few weeks of neglect, to a more serious problem that entails an intervention.
From closets overflowing with unworn clothes to boxes brimming with crafts and knickknacks, experts estimate that nearly 6 million Americans have a hoarding problem that affects their quality of life. But what if you had so much stuff, just the trash weighed 75 tons? To put it in perspective, it would take 15 huge dumpsters to hold that much trash. Imagine this amount of junk taking up every room, every hallway and every inch of space in your home. It seems impossible to live this way, but a heartbreaking home video introduced us to a husband and wife nearly buried alive by clutter. Oprah Winfrey produced “Inside the Lives of Hoarders,” a series of shows on people with clutter problems. From the Oprah website.
Mom Uses ’40 Bags in 40 Days’ Strategy to Clear Out Clutter (ClickonDetroit.com)
Helping Those Who Hoard (June 30, 2017) New York Times
Common Mistakes You’ll Make When Starting to Declutter (June 4, 2017) Stuff
Baby Boomers are Downsizing — And the Kids Won’t Take the Family Heirlooms (June 4, 2017) Boston Globe
How to Find Your Missing Keys and Stop Losing Other Things (April 3, 2017) New York Times
Decluttering? Yes, There’s an App (April 7, 2017) New York Times
11 Favorite No-Fuss Tips from Experts (March 19, 2017) Boston Globe
The Great Decluttering Checklist (2017) Next Avenue
My Great Decluttering Experiment, Part 1 (Jan. 12, 2017) Next Avenue
Where the TV Shows Get it Wrong on Hoarding (Nov. 1, 2016) Boston Globe Magazine
Marie Kondo and the Ruthless War on Stuff (July 6, 2016) New York Times
Clutter Can Kill (Jan. 21, 2016) Boston Globe
Why Do People Hoard?
According to Dr. David Tolin, director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at The Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital, some people hoard because of perfectionism. “They don’t necessarily color-code their closets, but they have that perfectionistic streak that bites them when it gets too bad,” he says. “They have the mentality that, ‘If I can’t make this decision perfectly, I won’t do it at all.’ And that’s where the hoarding comes in. They become so frightened that they will make a mistake, that they become paralyzed and just allow the clutter to build up.”
Other people hoard because they are afraid that they will accidentally throw away something that is useful. “People with hoarding problems will often think of all kinds of ways that they could use something, or they think of people that might want that object, so they keep it,” Dr. Tolin says. “The irony, however, is that in most cases, they never actually use the object in the way they thought of. They don’t actually give the object to the person they thought of. So these reasons for keeping things don’t turn out to be good reasons after all.”
Still other people save things because they feel a sense of emotional attachment to the objects in their home. “All of us get attached to things some of the time,” Dr. Tolin acknowledges. “We have things that remind us of people we love, or they remind us of happy times. But for people with hoarding problems, the attachment to objects becomes very intense—sometimes more intense than the attachment to actual people. And instead of feeling attached to one thing, like a scrapbook or a favorite sweater, they can become attached to hundreds, even thousands, of things. Some people have told me that all of the things in their homes feel like their friends or family members, so they can’t bear to throw them out.”
Enjoy your home or office more. Eliminate clutter!