Without proper cleaning and maintenance, our homes can become breeding grounds for mold, mildew, dust, and even vermin that could lead to sickness and structural instability. For most of us, keeping up with our household chores is easily managed, even if we may fall behind once in a while.
But for some people, the need to acquire and keep items of seemingly little to no value to the point of their homes being filled to capacity overpowers their ability to keep a hygienic, healthy, and safe home.
These people are commonly referred to as “hoarders,” a group that has become a topic of conversation due in part to the various reality TV shows that document those suffering from this mental health disorder.
Hoarding Disorder is currently considered part of the obsessive compulsive spectrum of disorders, however the American Psychiatric Association is considering a proposed revision that would define it in the DSM-V as a separate disorder from OCD.
However it’s defined, the dangers posed by this disorder are real. Just this past February, three homes in Portland, Oregon that were overflowing with hoarded items caught fire, leading to the death of two men and a dog.
Dr. James Hancey, director of the outpatient psychiatry clinic at Oregon Health & Science University, said that those suffering from this disorder can’t just be forced into discarding their possessions. They must want to change and agree to undergo the necessary therapy. Dr. Hancey explained,
“What doesn’t work is to go in and clear it out for them. They just fill it back up.”
Source: The Oregonian and “Hoarding: Buried Alive,” TLC