Social Science - Other

Confessions of a Hoarding Packrat



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What makes a person hold on to everything that crosses their path? I'll never understand it, but I have a good friend whose father was a packrat and hoarder deluxe! I remember going over to her house after school and barely being able to navigate the rooms in the house because of old newspapers and magazines stacked in the corners of every room, and boxes of who knows what lining the walls all the way up to the ceiling.

I sat down with her recently and talked to her about it. We had never discussed it before and I think it was good for her to finally share it with me.

She said as early as she can remember, her dad never threw anything away and had collected mounds and stacks of what most people would consider to be trash. She never really thought anything about it until she got older and realized that everyone didn't live the way they did. She said it was embarrassing for her to have friends over when she was a teenager. Looking back now, I realize she always did want to stay at my house instead of having me over.

After she was grown and out of the house she eventually asked her dad what was in all of those boxes, closets, piles, nooks and crannies. It turns out he kept all of her school papers and childhood drawings, all of her toys, all of their clothing over the years, packets of condiments from restaurants, buttons that had fallen off clothes, old receipts from things he had purchased, junk mail, wrapping paper and bows from old Christmas gifts, and broken appliances.

I did some research after talking to her and from what I've read, her dad was definitely a compulsive hoarder but not to the point where they couldn't function normally or to where their lives or health were threatened.

We've all heard the saying "one man's junk is another man's treasure". It's normal for us to be attached to things that have been passed down from our parents or grandparents, or special photographs or items have sentimental value to us. But people with hoarding problems get emotionally attached to items that most people would perceive to be junk.

During my research I read about people who can't throw out old food containers, used tea bags, cigarette butts or ashes, toilet paper cores, and burnt out lights bulbs. Their "collections" start to become health hazards over time. Some people hoard so many things that they don't even have room for furniture or a bed in their homes. Their piles of debris become so large that they can't move around easily to get in our out of their house. Some of these compulsive hoarders even accumulate animals and keep them in their homes. This eventually causes health problems for both themselves and their animals.

Most packrats and hoarders see themselves are merely collectors and not as someone who has a problem letting go of things. So the next time you hesitate to throw something out, you might want to take a step back and look around. If your house is overflowing with piles of things you never use and can't remember what is even in the pile or boxes, you could be on the verge of becoming a packrat or a compulsive hoarder.

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