Compulsive Hoarding Syndrome (CHS) is a type of mental disorder where an afflicted person experiences difficulty in discarding items and ends up living in a house that other people would consider unlivable. Hoarders not only collect food, trash, dumpster finds and collectibles, but in some cases, animals as well. A hoarder doesn’t see any problem with regard to his behavior nor does he see that his safety, along with his living environment, has been compromised.
Symptoms of Hoarding
No demographics have been set for hoarders and the syndrome begins manifesting itself approximately in pre-teen years and may advance as the hoarder grows older. Compulsive hoarders typically have these behaviors:
• Hoarders tend to be perfectionists
• Hoarders keep everything because they are unable to let go of items they think might be valuable
• Hoarders often ostracize themselves from family and friends and, in extreme cases, from colleagues in the workplace
A compulsive hoarder has a wide-ranging quantity of items in his possession that are mostly worthless junk. This worthless junk however, is viewed by a hoarder as collectible. The junk varies and commonly are books, receipts, magazines, clothes and the like, which a hoarder has a hard time letting go of. The hoarder’s home most likely will have a pathway where one can walk, but both sides of the pathway are literally stacked with junk and a corner of the house may be designated as a place where they can eat or sleep.
Reasons for Hoarding
The reason why compulsive hoarders tend to keep worthless items is that they always see the “value” of the useless pieces of junk. People with compulsive hoarding syndrome also have the tendency to shut themselves in because they are unable to have visitors in their homes due to the junk that literally lies everywhere. This behavior alone already has a negative impact on their social lives and runs the risk of progressing to depression because there is no contact with other people and there is lack of activities of the social kind.
Hoarding is Unsafe and Unhealthy
For the elderly that are afflicted with compulsive hoarding syndrome, bodily harm may result due to their behavior. The ability to move freely around the house becomes severely limited and hampered. The possibility of slips and falls tend to increase due to the decreased mobility. There are even cases wherein an elderly hoarder was lying on the clutter at his house and was unable to get up for several days until a caregiver arrived to help him out.
Fire hazard exists in the house of a hoarder due to countless types of objects stacked together, ready to spread fire quickly should an ignition occur. Diseases are also a common occurrence in a hoarder’s house because the house may become infested with rodents and insects. As a consequence, the whole house becomes a fire and health hazard.