Hoarding Awareness

Hoarding Awareness Hoarding is a disorder characterized by an individual's continuous challenge in letting go of belongings, irrespective of their genuine worth. This difficulty leads to accumulating items that can congest and clutter living spaces, severely impacting the individual's daily functioning and quality of life. Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual acknowledges hoarding disorder, underlining its recognition as a significant mental health condition. Here are some critical aspects of hoarding disorder Blog post description.

2/14/20247 min read

Hoarding Awareness part one

Hoardind Awarness part two

Hoarding Awareness

Hoarding is a disorder characterized by an individual's continuous challenge in letting go of belongings, irrespective of their genuine worth. This difficulty leads to accumulating items that can congest and clutter living spaces, severely impacting the individual's daily functioning and quality of life. Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual acknowledges hoarding disorder, underlining its recognition as a significant mental health condition. Here are some critical aspects of hoarding disorder:


  • Difficulty Discarding Items: Individuals with hoarding disorder experience distress at the thought of getting rid of items, leading to excessive accumulation.

  • Cluttered Living Spaces: The accumulation of items can make living spaces unusable for their intended purposes, affecting the individual's quality of life and, in severe cases, their safety and health.

  • Emotional Distress: The disorder often causes significant emotional distress, including feelings of embarrassment or anxiety, which can lead to social isolation.

  • Impaired Functioning: Hoarding can interfere with daily activities, such as cooking, cleaning, sleeping, and moving through the home safely.


Hoarding disorder is believed to result from a complex interplay of factors, including:

  • Genetics: Evidence suggests that hoarding behaviours can run in families.

  • Brain Functioning: Studies have shown differences in the brain functioning of people with hoarding disorder, particularly in decision-making and attachment to possessions.

  • Life Experiences: Traumatic events or significant loss can trigger hoarding behaviour in some individuals.

Types of Hoarding

  • General Hoarding: No specific type of item is collected; the person accumulates various objects.

  • Specific Hoarding: The individual collects particular items, such as newspapers, books, clothes, or things that might seem unusual.

  • Animal Hoarding: This involves accumulating many animals and needing help to provide the proper care, leading to health, safety, and sanitation issues.


The impact of hoarding disorder can be profound, affecting numerous aspects of an individual's life:

  • Health Risks: Clutter can pose significant health risks, including fire hazards, tripping hazards, and problems with hygiene and sanitation.

  • Social Isolation: Individuals may become socially isolated due to embarrassment about their living situation or the physical impossibility of having guests.

Emotional Distress: The disorder is often associated with feelings of emotional turmoil, including depression, anxiety, and stress.


Effective treatment for hoarding disorder can involve:

  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This is the most effective form of treatment, helping individuals to change their thoughts and behaviours related to hoarding.

  • Medication: While there is no medication specifically for hoarding disorder, medicines for related conditions, such as depression and anxiety, can be helpful.

Support Groups: These groups provide a feeling of belonging and community-shared experiences, providing practical advice and emotional support.

Hoarding disorder requires a compassionate and comprehensive treatment approach, addressing the disorder's psychological aspects and the practical challenges of decluttering and organizing living spaces.


Clutter refers to an excessive accumulation of items to the point where it interferes with the use of living spaces, causes stress, or significantly reduces one's quality of life. Unlike hoarding, a recognized mental health disorder marked by a struggle to let go of items, no matter their actual worth, clutter can accumulate for various reasons and does not always indicate a hoarding disorder. Chaos can result from:

  • Overaccumulation of Belongings: Acquiring more items that can be organized or stored effectively.

  • Lack of Organization: Items may be manageable but are organized, leading to crowded and efficient use of space.

  • Procrastination: Delaying decisions on keeping, donating, or disposing of items can lead to clutter.

  • Sentimental Attachment: Keeping items for sentimental reasons, even when they no longer serve a practical purpose or when the volume of such things becomes unmanageable.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Life events such as moving, the birth of a child, or the death of a loved one can lead to temporary periods of clutter as individuals adjust to new circumstances.

Impact of Clutter

Clutter can have various negative impacts on an individual's life, including:

  • Stress and Anxiety: Residing in a cluttered space can increase stress and anxiety levels.

  • Reduced Productivity: Clutter can distract and hinder one's ability to focus, reducing productivity and efficiency.

  • Safety Hazards: Excessive clutter can create physical hazards, such as tripping risks and fire hazards.

  • Social Isolation: Individuals may avoid inviting others into their homes due to embarrassment about the clutter, leading to social isolation.

Addressing Clutter

Managing clutter often involves:

  • Decluttering: Making decisions about what to keep, donate, sell, or throw away can help reduce clutter.

  • Organization: Implementing storage solutions and organizational systems can help manage the items that are kept.

  • Habit Changes: Developing new habits around acquiring items and regularly organizing spaces can prevent clutter from accumulating again.

  • Seeking Help: For some, professional organizers or therapists can provide strategies and support for managing clutter effectively.

Understanding and addressing the reasons behind clutter can help individuals create more organized, functional, and peaceful living spaces.

People with hoarding issues love their belongings more than family.

The statement "People with hoarding issues love their belongings more than family" is a common misconception that oversimplifies the complex emotional and psychological dynamics involved in hoarding disorder. Hoarding is not about the value of the items collected or a preference for these items over relationships. Instead, it's a recognized mental health disorder characterized by an individual's difficulty discarding items, irrespective of their actual worth, driven by a belief in their necessity to be kept. This difficulty accumulates items that can significantly clutter and block living spaces, creating distress and impacting daily functioning.

Key Points to Understand

  • Emotional Attachment: People with hoarding disorder often have an intense emotional attachment to their possessions, viewing them as extensions of themselves or as linked to their identity or memories. This attachment is not necessarily about "love" in the conventional sense but about anxiety and fear of loss.

  • Anxiety and Fear of Loss: The thought of discarding items can provoke severe anxiety or distress in individuals with hoarding disorder. This anxiety is often rooted in fears of losing important information, memories, or opportunities that the items represent.

  • Difficulty with Decision-Making: Hoarding disorder is also associated with problems in processing information, making decisions, and organizing thoughts. This can make the act of sorting and discarding possessions overwhelmingly tricky.

  • Impact on Relationships: The disorder can strain relationships with family members and friends, not because individuals with hoarding disorder value their possessions more than these relationships, but because the disorder's effects—such as cluttered living spaces and the social isolation it can cause—create barriers to interaction and understanding.

Addressing the Misconception

Understanding hoarding disorder requires compassion and an appreciation for the complexity of the condition. Efforts to help someone with a hoarding disorder should focus on the following:

  • Empathy and Support: Approach the individual with compassion, acknowledging the difficulty of their situation and offering support without judgment.

  • Professional Help: Encouraging the involvement of mental health professionals specializing in hoarding disorder can provide strategies for gradually addressing hoarding behaviour and the underlying emotional issues.

  • Education: Educating oneself and the affected individual about hoarding disorder can help demystify the condition and reduce stigma, making seeking and accepting help easier.

It's essential to address the underlying emotional and psychological factors contributing to hoarding behaviour rather than simply focusing on the clutter. With the proper support and intervention, individuals can work towards healthier relationships with their possessions and improved family dynamics.

Homer and Langley Collyer

Homer and Langley Collyer were two brothers who became infamous for their extreme hoarding behaviour and the mysterious circumstances surrounding their deaths in 1947. Born into an affluent family in New York City, they lived together in a Harlem brownstone, where they withdrew from society and filled their home with a vast assortment of collected items, ranging from newspapers and books to more bizarre objects like a Model T Ford and numerous pianos.


  • Homer Collyer (1881–1947) was a former admiralty lawyer who later became blind and increasingly dependent on his brother.

  • Langley Collyer (1885–1947) was an engineer and pianist who cared for Homer, venturing out only at night to avoid interaction with people. He was known for his eccentricities, including setting elaborate booby traps in their home to deter intruders.

The Collyer Brothers' Hoarding

Their hoarding behaviour seemed to escalate following the deaths of their parents in the 1920s, leading to their gradual isolation from the outside world. The brothers feared eviction and vandalism, contributing to their reclusive behaviour and the fortification of their home. Their hoarding was not only of items they found interesting or valuable but also included massive amounts of what most would consider trash or junk, creating a hazardous living environment.

Discovery and Death

The Collyer brothers were found dead in their home in March 1947 after the police were called due to reports of a foul odour emanating from the house. Homer was found first, starved to death in his chair. Langley was found weeks later, buried under debris, apparently having been crushed by one of his booby traps while bringing food to his brother. It was believed that Homer died of starvation several days after Langley's death.


The Collyer brothers have become a cautionary tale about the dangers of hoarding and isolation. Their story has been referenced in various cultural contexts, including literature, music, and theatre, often symbolizing the potential destructiveness of compulsive hoarding. Their home was filled with over 140 tons of collected items, and clearing it out attracted widespread media attention and public fascination.

The Collyer brothers' case is one of the most extreme examples of hoarding behaviour documented in modern times, highlighting the potential severity of the hoarding condition and its effects on individuals, families, and broader communities.

Their story is an early, dramatic example of how hoarding can spiral out of control without intervention.

Mr Edmund Trebus (1918–2002) was a Polish war veteran who became widely known in the UK for his extreme hoarding behaviour, highlighted in the BBC documentary series "A Life of Grime" in the late 1990s. Living in North London, Trebus accumulated vast amounts of what many would consider rubbish and waste in his home and garden, arguing that the items could be reused or repaired, embodying the adage "Waste not, want not."

Background and Behavior

Trebus's hoarding was not limited to any specific item; he collected everything from broken televisions and bicycles to thousands of plastic bags and pieces of old wood. His house and garden were so filled with hoarded items that they posed a significant health and safety risk, leading to repeated conflicts with his neighbours and the local council.

Public Attention

Trebus's story gained public attention through "A Life of Grime," where viewers were given an insight into his life, his hoarding habits, and the challenges faced by environmental health officers trying to deal with the situation. His confrontations with authorities, stubborn nature, and justification for his hoarding made him a memorable and somewhat sympathetic figure to the audience.


Edmund Trebus became a cult figure following his appearance in the documentary, symbolizing the struggle between individual freedom and community health and safety standards. His story brought significant attention to the issue of hoarding, helping to raise awareness about the condition as more than just an eccentric hobby but a serious issue that can profoundly affect individuals and their communities.

Mr Trebus passed away in 2002, but his story remains a poignant example of how complex and challenging hoarding disorder can be, both for those who suffer from it and for those around them trying to help. His life highlighted the need for compassion, understanding, and effective interventions to support individuals struggling with hoarding behaviours.