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The Psychology of Hoarding


Photo Credit:  Alex Foster

Photo Credit: Alex Foster

My mom likes to keep all old, unused, broken or spoilt things. My house is full of empty bottles, can, container, newspapers, flyers, old clothes, old furniture & electrical appliances, etc.

Please tell me how can I change her weird habit and get rid of all this stuff. I Have tried to explain to her many times but she is too stubborn to listen and never tries to understand my feelings.

Anybody have a solution to this problem? Thanks.

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A delicate and challenging situation
by: Josie

Addressing a loved one's hoarding tendencies or attachment to old and unused items can be a delicate and challenging situation. It's essential to approach this issue with empathy and understanding. Here are some steps to consider when trying to help your mom change her habit:

Open and Honest Communication: Start by having a calm and non-confrontational conversation with your mom. Express your concern for her well-being and the safety of the household due to the clutter. Use "I" statements to communicate your feelings, such as "I feel overwhelmed by the clutter, and it's affecting my peace of mind."

Listen Actively: Give your mom an opportunity to share her perspective. Ask her why she feels the need to keep these items. Understanding her motivations is essential to finding a solution that addresses her underlying needs.

Professional Guidance: Consider involving a mental health professional or counselor who specializes in hoarding behavior. They can provide an objective assessment and offer strategies for managing hoarding tendencies.

Small Steps: Encourage your mom to start small. Suggest tackling one area or category of items at a time, such as old newspapers or clothing. Setting achievable goals can make the process less overwhelming.

Support and Involvement: Offer your assistance in decluttering. Your mom may be more willing to part with items if she feels supported and not judged. Be patient and understanding during the process.

Donate or Recycle: Emphasize the positive impact of donating or recycling items that are no longer needed. Knowing that these items may benefit others can be a motivating factor for decluttering.

Safety and Functionality: Highlight the importance of safety and functionality in the home. Clutter can pose safety risks, and a more organized living space can enhance daily living.

Seeking Community Resources: Investigate local hoarding support groups or community resources. Connecting with others who have experienced similar challenges can provide valuable insights and encouragement.

Respect Boundaries: While encouraging change, respect your mom's boundaries and pace. Avoid pressuring her or making decisions about her belongings without her consent.

Maintenance Plan: Once progress is made, work together to establish a maintenance plan to prevent clutter from accumulating again. Regularly decluttering and organizing can help maintain a clutter-free environment.

Changing deeply ingrained habits, such as hoarding tendencies, can be a gradual process. Be patient, empathetic, and persistent in your efforts to support your mom. It's also essential to prioritize your own well-being and seek support for yourself if you find the situation to be emotionally challenging.

Related Information on The All About Psychology Website

Understanding Hoarding Disorder Symptoms Causes and Treatment Learn all about this complex and debilitating condition characterized by the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions.

by: Anonymous

Ok... My heart goes out to you. I have had a mother like yours for 50+ years and it's been an incredible challenge.

When my mother and I were forced to move in together due to her health and our finances, she came with all of her stuff into my otherwise neat and orderly environment.

I love my mother and she has many good qualities like being generous and helpful, but her hoarding is out of control.

In order for us to live together and me not loose it, I do not enter her room as it only depresses me. I also put all of her stuff in the basement and rarely go down there either. She refuses to part with her stuff and says it represents all the work she did over the years.

I would suggest you let your mom have her space until she is willing to let go of the stuff (if ever). I would not allow her to clutter up the space you have or live in jointly. When my mom does that - I draw the line and throw the junk in her room. If she wants to keep it- it must go in her room.

Hoarding is a sign of internal unrest. Many issues are underlying that have never been dealt with - so they think stuff will fill the void... but it doesn't.

Best to you. Keep your space peaceful and organized.

Useful Article on Hoarding
by: David

Click Here to read a Psychology Today article entitiled "Hoarding: The Clean Sweep. Learn to let go and get rid of everyday junk, even if you think you might use it someday.

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