Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One Person's Trash is Another Person's Treasure

Some of you may know that I've done some presentations on hoarding. I've recently been reading the book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. Frost and Steketee are the gurus of hoarding, and I think Randy Frost is a consultant on at least one of the popular hoarding shows on TV.

Any time I have done this presentation it seems that most people in the audience know someone they suspect is a hoarder, are related to someone who hoards, or they worry that they themselves are hoarders. Frost and Steketee report that between 2-5% of the population, or anywhere from 6-15 million people hoard. That's a lot of people with a lot of stuff.

I'm only part of the way through the book, but I'll share some tidbits:

  • Hoarding may not be as closely associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as once thought. Rather, it seems to be more characteristic of an Impulse Control Disorder (ICD), like kleptomania or compulsive gambling.
  • Hoarders often place high value on things that appear to be junk to the rest of us. They have difficulty distinguishing between things with true value and things that are trash.
  • Perfectionism appears to play a major role in hoarding.
  • Some studies have indicated a high correlation between compulsive gambling and hoarding.
  • There also seems to be a connection between possessions and a sense of security, with some people  starting to hoard after suffering a severe trauma.
There's no doubt that this is a complex and difficult issue to deal with. I will keep you posted as I work my through this book.

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