Where are we at with all this hoarding stuff
Where does our compulsion to hoard come from
Do we know of people who are into hoarding
Do we Judge those who have a habit of hoarding
Are we living opposite to hoarding – super Simple
Are we ever able to Let Go and be free of hoarding
Is there a hiding and Secrecy around hoarding
What is the Dictionary definition of the word Hoarding
The act of collecting large amounts of something and keeping it for yourself, often in a secret place.
A mental condition that makes someone want to keep a large number of things that are not needed or have no value. (1)
The compulsion to continually accumulate a variety of items that are often considered useless or worthless by others accompanied by an inability to discard the items without great distress. (2)
This means our movements are to hold on to large amounts of stuff that have no value and are not even needed. We may even want to keep these items in a hidden place.
Our behaviour continues to collect and we are not able to simply Let Go and if we do it causes us extreme anxiety – that is the meaning of distress in the dictionary.
What happens to someone who develops the need to hoard
What was going on for them in early life that leads to this holding on
What do these items they accumulate symbolise to them and others
How does Holding On with our hoarding serve us
Why are we carefully guarding our objects and money
Why does anyone want to hoard in the first place
What is really going on behind our hoarding habits
What happens in the long term when we have a tendency to hoard almost anything we can.
Have we accumulated stuff over the years and have no motivation to take steps and Let Go of all our hoarding.
Have we lost the Commitment to follow through and deal with all the belongings that we are hoarding.
Is a house move not on our radar because we are big into hoarding and the task of moving would be too scary.
Does the excessive acquisition give us a feeling of reward on some level and this is what keeps us hoarding.
Do we have a security thing going on around our hoarding behaviour.
In other words, Holding On and safeguarding items makes us feel secure in this world.
Do we have a pile of money that we hoard for our Just Incase day in the future.
Do we live with a constant tension inside us as we have so much that we are hoarding.
Do we get anxious when we think about dealing with the hoarding that is taking up space in our homes.
Do we feel un-comfortable knowing we have things we cannot Let Go of.
Do we feel un-settled inside our body and know it is because we have so much hoarding going on.
Do we get stressed daily, knowing that our hoarding behaviour is occupying space everywhere around us.
Do we get disturbed if anyone asks us why we are consistently finding ways to amass more in our home.
Do we feel threatened at the thought of someone trying to make us deal with our hoarding habits.
Do we accumulate anything and everything, as that is what our parents have always done.
Do we pile up one room and then move on to the next and keep collecting and we don’t actually know why.
Do we have a stash of valuables that we hoard Secretly incase we may need them one day.
Do we have a collection of items that have no purpose but we keep on adding to our hoarding.
Do we stockpile food as this way of hoarding helps us cope with the day when rations might come back.
Do we feel a sense of success because we have hoarded so much and see it as a confirmation that we have plenty.
Do we find that our hoarding distracts us and takes our Focus away from the important things in life.
Do we have a dread and fear when it comes to hoarding as we know SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT.
It is official that Hoarding Disorder is recognised as a Mental Disorder in the DSM.
What is the DSM
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
is the handbook used by health care professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders.
It provides a common language for clinicians to communicate about their patients and establishes consistent and reliable diagnoses that can be used in the research of mental disorders. It also provides a common language for researchers to study the criteria for potential future revisions and to aid in the development of medications and other interventions.
It was anticipated that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) spent
$20 – $25 million on the extensive process of developing DSM-5. (3)
DSM – 5
|Diagnostic Criteria||300.3 (F42)|
Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.
This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items and to distress associated with discarding them.
The difficulty discarding possessions results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromises their intended use. If living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of the interventions of third parties (e.g., family members, cleaners, authorities).
The hoarding causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).
The hoarding is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease, Prader-Willi syndrome).
The hoarding is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, decreased energy in major depressive disorder, delusions in schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, cognitive deficits in major neurocognitive disorder, neurocognitive disorder, restricted interests in autism spectrum disorder).
With excessive acquisition:
If difficulty discarding possessions is accompanied by excessive acquisition of items that are not needed or for which there is no available space.
With good or fair insight:
The individual recognises that hoarding-related beliefs and behaviors (pertaining to difficulty discarding items, clutter, or excessive acquisition) are problematic.
With poor insight:
The individual is mostly convinced that hoarding-related beliefs and behaviors (pertaining to difficulty discarding items, clutter, or excessive acquisition) are not problematic despite evidence to the contrary.
With absent insight/delusional beliefs:
The individual is completely convinced that hoarding-related beliefs and behaviors (pertaining to difficulty discarding items, clutter, or excessive acquisition) are not problematic despite evidence to the contrary.
With excessive acquisition. Approximately 80% – 90% of individuals with hoarding disorder display excessive acquisition. The most frequent form of acquisition is excessive buying, followed by acquisition of free items (e.g., leaflets, items discarded by others).
Stealing is less common. Some individuals may deny excessive acquisition when first assessed, yet it may appear later during the course of treatment. Individuals with hoarding disorder typically experience distress if they are unable to or are prevented from acquiring items.
The essential feature of hoarding disorder is persistent difficulties discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value (Criterion A). The term persistent indicates a long-standing difficulty rather than more transient life circumstances that may lead to excessive clutter such as inheriting property. The difficulty in discarding possessions noted in Criterion A refers to any form of discarding, including throwing away, selling, giving away or recycling.
The main reasons given for these difficulties are the perceived utility or aesthetic value of the items or strong sentimental attachment to the possessions.
Some individuals feel responsible for the fate of their possessions and often go to great lengths to avoid being wasteful.
Fears of losing important information are also common.
The most commonly saved items are newspapers, magazines, old clothing, bags, books, mail and paperwork but virtually any item can be saved. The nature of items is not limited to possessions that most other people would define as useless or of limited value.
Many individuals collect and save large numbers of valuable things as well, which are often found in piles mixed with other less valuable items.
Individuals with hoarding disorder purposefully save possessions and experience distress when facing the prospect of discarding them (Criterion B). This criterion emphasizes that the saving of possessions is intentional, which discriminates hoarding disorder from other forms of psychopathology that are characterised by the passive accumulation of items or the absence of distress when possessions are removed.
Individuals accumulate large numbers of items that fill up and clutter active living areas to the extent that their intended use is no longer possible (Criterion C).
For example – the individual may not be able to cook in the kitchen, sleep in his or her bed, or sit in a chair. If the space can be used, it is only with great difficulty. Clutter is defined as a large group of usually unrelated or marginally related objects piled together in a disorganized fashion in spaces designed for other purposes (e.g., tabletops, floor, hallway). Criterion C emphasizes the “active” living areas of the home, rather than more peripheral areas, such as garages, attics or basements, that are sometimes cluttered in homes of individuals without hoarding disorder.
However, individuals with hoarding disorder often have possessions that spill beyond the active living areas and can occupy and impair the use of other spaces, such as vehicles, yards, the workplace and friends’ and relatives’ houses. In some cases, living areas may be uncluttered because of the intervention of third parties (e.g., family members, cleaners, local authorities). Individuals who have been forced to clear their homes still have a symptom picture that meets criteria for hoarding disorder because the lack of clutter is due to a third-party intervention.
Hoarding disorder contrasts with normative collecting behaviour, which is organized and systematic, even if in some cases the actual amount of possessions may be similar to the amount accumulated by an individual with hoarding disorder. Normative collecting does not produce the clutter, distress or impairment typical of hoarding disorder.
Symptoms (i.e., difficulties discarding and / or clutter) must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning, including maintaining a safe environment for self and others (Criterion D). In some cases, particularly when there is poor insight, the individual may not report distress and the impairment may be apparent only to those around the individual. However, any attempts to discard or clear the possessions by third parties result in high levels of distress.
Associated Features Supporting Diagnosis
Other common features of hoarding disorder include indecisiveness, perfectionism, avoidance, procrastination, difficulty planning and organizing tasks and distractibility.
Some individuals with hoarding disorder live in unsanitary conditions that may be a logical consequence of severely cluttered spaces and / or that are related to planning and organizing difficulties.
Animal hoarding can be defined as the accumulation of a large number of animals and a failure to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation and veterinary care and to act on the deteriorating condition of the animals (including disease, starvation or death) and the environment (e.g., severe overcrowding, extremely unsanitary conditions). Animal hoarding may be a special manifestation of hoarding disorder. Most individuals who hoard animals also hoard inanimate objects. The most prominent differences between animal and object hoarding are the extent of unsanitary conditions and the poorer insight in animal hoarding.
Community surveys estimate the point prevalence of clinically significant hoarding in the United States and Europe to be approximately 2%-6%. Hoarding disorder affects both males and females, but some epidemiological studies have reported a significantly greater prevalence among males. This contrasts with clinical samples, which are predominantly female.
Hoarding symptoms appear to be almost three times more prevalent in older adults (ages 55-94 years) compared with younger adults (ages 34-44 years).
Development and Course
Hoarding appears to begin early in life and spans well into the late stages.
Hoarding symptoms may first emerge around ages 11-15 years, start interfering with the individual’s everyday functioning by the mid-20s and cause clinically significant impairment by the mid-30s. Participants in clinical research studies are usually in their 50s. Thus, the severity of hoarding increases with each decade of life.
Once symptoms begin, the course of hoarding is often chronic, with few individuals reporting a waxing and waning course.
Pathological hoarding in children appears to be easily distinguished from developmentally adaptive saving and collecting behaviors. Because children and adolescents typically do not control their living environment and discarding behaviors the possible intervention of third parties (e.g., parents keeping the spaces usable and thus reducing interference) should be considered when making the diagnosis.
Risk and Prognostic Factors
Indecisiveness is a prominent feature of individuals with hoarding disorder and their first-degree relatives.
Individuals with hoarding disorder often retrospectively report stressful and traumatic life events preceding the onset of the disorder or causing an exacerbation.
Genetic and Physiological
Hoarding behaviour is familial, with about 50% of individuals who hoard reporting having a relative who also hoards. Twin studies indicate that approximately 50% of the variability in hoarding behaviour is attributable to additive genetic factors.
Culture-Related Diagnostic Issues
While most of the research has been done in Western, industrialised countries and urban communities, the available data from non-Western and developing countries suggest that hoarding is a universal phenomenon with consistent clinical features.
Gender-Related Diagnostic Issues
The key features of hoarding disorder (i.e., difficulties discarding, excessive amount of clutter) are generally comparable in males and females but females tend to display more excessive acquisition, particularly excessive buying, than do males.
Functional Consequences of Hoarding Disorder
Clutter impairs basic activities, such as moving through the house, cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene and even sleeping. Appliances may be broken and utilities such as water and electricity may be disconnected, as access for repair work may be difficult.
Quality of life is often considerably impaired. In severe cases, hoarding can put individuals at risk for fire, falling (especially elderly individuals), poor sanitation and other health risks. Hoarding disorder is associated with occupational impairment, poor physical health, and high social service utilization.
Family relationships are frequently under great strain. Conflict with neighbours and local authorities is common and a substantial proportion of individuals with severe hoarding disorder have been involved in legal eviction proceedings and some have a history of eviction.
Other medical conditions
Hoarding disorder is not diagnosed if the symptoms are judged to be a direct consequence of another medical condition (Criterion E), such as traumatic brain injury, surgical resection for treatment of a tumour or seizure control, cerebrovascular disease, infections of the central nervous system (e.g., herpes simplex encephalitis), or neurogenetic conditions such as Prader-Willi syndrome. Damage to the anterior ventromedial prefrontal and cingulate cortices has been particularly associated with the excessive accumulation of objects. In these individuals, the hoarding behaviour is not present prior to the onset of the brain damage and appears shortly after the brain damage occurs. Some of these individuals appear to have little interest in the accumulated items and are able to discard them easily or do not care if others discard them, whereas others appear to be very reluctant to discard anything.
Hoarding disorder is not diagnosed if the accumulation of objects is judged to be a direct consequence of a neurodevelopmental disorder, such as autism spectrum disorder or intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder).
Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
Hoarding Disorder is not diagnosed if the accumulation of objects is judged to be a direct consequence of delusions or negative symptoms in schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders.
Major depressive episode
Hoarding Disorder is not diagnosed if the accumulation of objects is judged to be a direct consequence of psychomotor retardation, fatigue or loss of energy during a major depressive episode.
Hoarding Disorder is not diagnosed if the symptoms are judged to be a direct consequence of typical obsessions or compulsions, such as fears of contamination, harm or feelings of incompleteness in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Feelings of incompleteness (e.g., losing one’s identity or having to document and preserve all life experiences) are the most frequent OCD symptoms associated with this form of hoarding.
The accumulation of objects can also be the result of persistently avoiding onerous rituals (e.g., not discarding objects in order to avoid endless washing or checking rituals).
In OCD, the behavior is generally unwanted and highly distressing and the individual experiences no pleasure or reward from it. Excessive acquisition is usually not present; if excessive acquisition is present, items are acquired because of a specific obsession (e.g., the need to buy items that have been accidently touched in order to avoid contaminating other people), not because of a genuine desire to possess the items. Individuals who hoard in the context of OCD are also more likely to accumulate bizarre items, such as trash, faeces, urine, nails, hair, used diapers, or rotten food. Accumulation of such items is very unusual in hoarding disorder.
When severe hoarding appears concurrently with other typical symptoms of OCD but is judged to be independent from these symptoms, both hoarding disorder and OCD may be diagnosed.
Hoarding disorder is not diagnosed if the accumulation of objects is judged to be a direct consequence of a degenerative disorder such as neurocognitive disorder associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration or Alzheimer’s disease.
Typically, onset of the accumulation behaviour is gradual and follows onset of the neuro-cognitive disorder. The accumulating behaviour may be accompanied by self-neglect and severe domestic squalor, alongside other neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as disinhibition, gambling rituals/stereotypies, tics and self-injurious behaviors.
Approximately 75% of individuals with hoarding disorder have a comorbid mood or anxiety disorder. The most common comorbid conditions are major depressive disorder (up to 50% of cases), social anxiety disorder (social phobia) and generalized anxiety disorder.
Approximately 20% of individuals with hoarding disorder also have symptoms that meet diagnostic criteria for OCD.
These comorbidities may often be the main reason for consultation because individuals are unlikely to spontaneously report hoarding symptoms and these symptoms are often not asked about in routine clinical interviews. (4)
This above section spells out what the American Psychiatric Association are saying about Hoarding Disorder.
What we know is that it does exist and it is a mental disorder.
But are there those who are not diagnosed as so many in society have this tendency to accumulate and collect stuff over the years and it ends up cluttering our homes, garages, sheds and outbuildings.
What if we got to the root issue of why and when we started hoarding.
Would that be the beginning of the healing process because we nominated and established where it came from in the first place.
What if imposing and expecting someone to Let Go and change is not the answer because there is more to consider about hoarding.
There is much in this world that we simply accept and never get round to addressing until it gets really serious.
Is hoarding one of those?
(1) (n.d). Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved August 28, 2019 from
(2) (n.d). Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved August 28, 2019 from
(3) (n.d). DSM-5: Frequently Asked Questions. American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved August 28, 2019 from
(4) American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association
Mail Online – 3 October 2019
A house clearance firm removed 12 tonnes of rubbish where the tenant was a pensioner living with a relative who was hoarding clutter for 30 years until she died.
The compulsive hoarding got worse when their partner died.
There were piles of clothes, shoes, books, umbrellas and rotting food cans, which had been there so long, the contents had vanished and the tins were crumbling.
It took 6 men 7 days to clear the enormous amount of clutter.
The job was carried out with no profit being made by Klutter King and the owner mr. Porter said he set up the company to make a living but has now seen the massive difference it can make to people’s lives.
House removals of this kind are now becoming big business and we need to get to the root cause of what happened that led to the accumulating of items and not discarding or moving on from them.
This blog gives us a great insight and presents us with a catalogue of questions that are well worth considering.
Holding on and not letting go are deep rooted and judging another for the way they lived or are living is not going to get us closer to having an understanding.
There is more we need to know and learn about WHY anyone subscribes to Hoarding and what is really behind the movements that continue thereafter.
Reflecting recently on someone who died last year, leaving a big house full of clutter, I know that it troubled them towards their end of life as they wanted to be letting go but did not have the resources. No one was interested to help and support them with this giant task of letting go and the job was way too much for them to deal with in their old age and ill health.
Their life story gives a real indication why their behaviour was such and that shopping constantly, buying and hoarding became as their best friend said their “business”.
It was not a hobby – it was a business.
They would buy things, give things away, accumulate things and transport them to their second home. This went on for 5 decades with 2 homes full of clutter, which have yet to be dealt with.
Their elderly partner who survives them is struggling and unable to continue living in either of the 2 homes.
One of the first things they wanted after the death was to have the house cleared of clutter, but it is yet to be actioned one year late due to the siblings in conflict following the death.
This true real life story is the norm, as so many families have this type of stuff going on.
We all need to sit down and question HOW ON EARTH have we got to this point, where a parent dies leaving a house full of clutter and the adult children behave in a way that is grossly irresponsible and dis-respectful to the surviving parent, by not honouring their wish to have the clutter removed as throughout the decades this person did not have a hoarding issue but instead, had an unspoken arrangement to live with this.
I am currently on two projects as part of a team dealing with what some might refer to as a hoarding syndrome.
What I have come to realise is how deep and entrenched the behaviour is of anyone that holds on to items in their home that the majority may think is useless, not needed and un-necessary.
What I also realise is our judgements. We have our opinions and we cast judgement, without little if any, true understanding of the WHY and HOW this is happening in their life.
We have reality TV shows where we see the person processing stuff and feeling deeply un-settled or not able to quite let go and the show has a goal – to clear it all out as the end picture has to have this or it would not be worth watching. But are we really getting to the root cause of WHY and HOW a person gets to this point in their life?
My take is that there are deep underlying issues that are buried and not dealt with and the attachment to things gives a sense of security and it feeds itself. In other words, they need more of stuff, even if it means rooms and cupboards full of items they may never use, let alone get out to even know what they put inside in the first place.
Next – my mother died and was what I can now say is – she was a serial hoarder. So much was not right in her life and spending years judging her as most of us did at the time did not change her behaviour. She took care of everything she had and filled up rooms and rooms with cupboards to the ceiling full of ‘stuff’. Reflecting on her life yesterday with someone sharing how she grew up and came to England as a teenager with no living relative and had to marry, we get to understand there is so much more behind why someone behaves the way they do. Not only did she hoard in her home, she done the same in her second home back in her native country.
Before she died, it was like she knew her time was up and she did ask me to help her get rid of stuff as she became aware and overwhelmed at the task of how much there was. Near the end I felt her deep sadness as she was so sorry for leaving her contents of both her homes and not dealing with it. My Dad was begging me to clear out the house as he knew it was needed and he was not able to do anything physically to assist.
My message to anyone out there is ‘deal with your stuff and keep reviewing and refining what you are holding onto. Question WHY you want it and see what is behind the need to keep something that you know deep down is not of service, value or even used’.
We each have a Responsibility to let go of what we are holding onto and for some real inspiration read the following blogs on this website:
Finish the Job
Metro News – 4 March 2022
According to research, young adults are holding a combined 10 million photos on their phones.
The study of 2,000 adults found younger generations worry more about forgetting memories and events than any other age group.
66% claim it is why they don’t delete the images.
Over one third of 18 to 24 year olds have been more conscious of preserving their memories since the start of the pandemic.
97% of all adult surveyed admitted they keep old photos tucked away in online cloud services, with the average person only returning to view old images once a month.
50% claim that looking at old images makes them feel more positive
One third claim looking at past memories helps to brighten their day.
The most common types of photos that we have on our phones:
6. Random Screenshots
9. Work-related content
75% use the phone regularly to take pictures.
77% agree it helps them capture life‘s most important moments.
Women are far less likely to delete old photos than men.
25% men claim they have no problem deleting old pictures.
Men were also more likely to delete photos of pets, holidays and photos of family and friends, when compared with the females surveyed.
Image hoarding also affects finances.
12% of working adults confess they spend up to £5 every month on additional phone storage to help make space on cluttered phones – 3 million spent annually.
70% adults also confessed to transferring old images onto new phones, without filtering or organising – adding to the country’s growing image hoarding problem.
One in five are storing photos that are more than 10 years old.
Is this hoarding of images going on just in Britain or is it on a global scale?
A sign confirming how much we like to hold on is the fact we have smart phones with such high storage to allow for such images to be saved, even if there is no reason, purpose or reviewing going on.
Let’s get real, most of us don’t choose to review and refine our collection of photos and before we realise, we have accumulated thousands.
If storage for these photos was costly, no doubt we would change our behaviour, but for now its ok as this is what we want and the suppliers give us space in the clouds to do that.