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03 January 2004

Why people hoard things

The New York Times article, So Much Clutter, So Little Room: Examining the Roots of Hoarding (found via boingboing), offers an account of the motivations behind hoarding. Apparently hoarders tend to be "unusually intelligent" and see more connections between things, so value them more.

It also suggests that they attach emotional significance to a wider variety of things. And that for some, it is all about preserving their identity; they believe that what comes into their ownership becomes a part of them, so if they throw too much away they'll lose themselves. Finally, throwing something away can make hoarders feel unsafe because their clutter offers a sense of home, or nesting.

See also: The Social Psychology of Objects

Posted at 10:15 AM in Collecting, Identities for things | Permalink


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I finally realized my problem, I am 27 and finally I haved lived in the same house for a little over 10 years, Imagine my room. I think my hoarding comes from the fear of moving so many times when I was little and all of the stuff I have left behind... Now I keep everything Tapes of old stuff I recorded on tv. I might need to see it again someday. like 50 or so tapes of really nothing.I need to keep clothes feom high school. old shoes, stuffed animals and hair stuff,old new kids on the block memorabilia. Defienetly need that.... I have plastic containers to try and organize but it's just to store junk...... I am about to move and I think I will need a storage unit to keep all my stuff becouse I dont want my new place to be cluttered. I think I am doing ok tring to get rid of things (I HOPE)

Posted by: natasha at 20 May 2004 01:37:20

I could use some advice. My elderly aunt has come down with either pseudo gout or rumatoid arthritis. She is very alert mentally but having touble getting around. Her 56 year old daughter has never left home and is the worst hoarder you have ever seen. It is almost impossible to walk through this home because of boxes and boxes of just plain junk, and there are already two huge storage facilities out back full of so much junk in no order until you can't even open the door.
My little Aunt has called upon me to help with this situation because she needs the house cleared out so she won't fall and break a bone or worse.
I was there yesterday, and I did realize that this daughter sees every little scrap of this junk as near and dear to her and something she might be needed at some time.
All I knew to do was just put my foot down about getting certain areas cleared out. I also went out and bought storage containers and a marker so that she can stack some of this junk in see through containers that are clearly labeled.
I have seen programs on TV about people like this, but I am not a psychologist and I don't have much hope about a 56 year old, very unusual woman changing her behavior.
But it is now very important to not let her unusual hoarding create a hazardous situation for my elderly aunt.
Any suggestions?

Posted by: sara cox at 10 Jul 2005 13:00:23

I am 43 years old and have just been lead to this site.Work from home. I have 4 children, a husband some physical disablities (not serious, Thank God)and elderly parents that are keeping me very distracted, now that is my "story" or shall I say excuse? I know that everyone in my life would love me to just get rid of everything...and I wish I could too. I told my cousin who has this problem as well, along with several other indirect family members that I thought the key to our problem is pure...Procrastination. I am sorry to say. I know there is a whole bunch of prople that want to argue with me I bet." Off with her Head!" One thing I can say, people who hoard come from all different backrounds, may it be poor , middle class or wealthy. So, I am not buying the excuse about how we hold on to our things cause we are or were poor and never had anything. The wealthy have the same symptoms, the difference is that they don't or may not seem to suffer like maybe one who is poor or lacking financial success, because they have enough wealth to delegate thier chore of organizing and cleaning to outside agencies or friends, or family members who need the money ,and who they can AFFORD to employ... How many really cluttered wealthy homes have you visited lately? Don't Hate now, I love you, Just having a hard time with others not loving me for me, just loooking at the stuff. Leave the judgement to God, put your stones down. Take a long look at yourself because you never walked in my shoes...I am so glad that Jesus is the only man that walked on water.

Posted by: Just Me Carol at 11 Apr 2006 04:55:56