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Compulsive Hoarding: When Collecting Things Becomes a Disorder
Many people in the United States are looking forward to the return of spring. During this season, millions of Americans do what is known as spring cleaning. They open windows in their homes to let in fresh air. They use cleaning products that make their homes smell nice. And they organize their belongings.
Some Americans have astrong desire to clean up their homes. This can also be called removing clutter. Clutter can be described as a disorganized collection of things. To remove clutter means to throw away the things you do not want. Then, organize the things you have decided to keep.
In recent years, it has become easy to find information on how to attack clutter. There are books and even television programs on thesubject. Specialty stores sell containers and boxes for storing things around the house.
Some Americans pay people to come to their home to remove clutter. Such people provide advice on what to keep and what to throw away. They also help with organizing things. However, the services of a professional organizer can be costly. Such services can cost up to two hundred dollars an hour.
Some people haveserious problems with clutter. They have a mental disorder called compulsive hoarding syndrome. Hoarding is the gathering of objects and not being able to throw them away. Most people would say the objects are useless or worthless. However, hoarders believe the objects could be useful some day. They may even develop an emotional connection to such things.
Hoarders are afraid to throw awaythings. Yet they continue to bring more and more things into their homes. They may save objects such as newspapers, clothing, and even old food.
Hoarders live with so much clutter it may endanger their physical health. Dirt, insects, and bacteria that form over a period of time can cause sickness.
Safety experts say the homes of hoarders often are unsafe. A room filled with newspapers, for example,can cause floor supports to break down. In many cases, a room is filled from top to bottom with useless things. There is only a small space to walk from one end of the room to the other.
One of the most famous hoarding cases involved two brothers in New York City. Homer and Langley Collyer were found dead in their home in nineteen forty-seven. Langley Collyer was buried under what appeared to bea mountain of old newspapers. The weight of the newspapers crushed him. Langley was Homer's caretaker. Medical experts believed Langley had been dead for several days before his brother Homer died of starvation.
Police found the home was filled with thousands of unused books, pieces of wood, and skins from large fruits and vegetables. The two brothers also saved pipes and very large automobileparts.
Compulsive hoarding can have a severe effect on a family. Family members who share a home with the hoarder cannot understand why their loved one keeps so many useless and sometimes dangerous things. It prevents the family from enjoying their home. Experts say the hoarder should make a greater effort to keep the home clean and organized. However, it is not that simple.
Randy Frost is apsychologist at Smith College in Massachusetts. He also has studied hoarding. Mister Frost says it is more than a mental disorder. He says hoarding is a public health problem.
Collecting waste, food or materials that can cause fires creates serious health risks. In the United States, hoarding violates laws that were created to protect public safety and property. Some cities have formed groups todeal with the problems caused by hoarding. Each group usually has representatives from one or more government agencies.
Agency officials say they often hear about hoarders from citizens who live near someone affected with the disorder. The citizens no longer want to see broken household equipment or old clothing lying on property near their homes.
Persons suffering from compulsive hoarding...
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