soliciting input on hoarding output

For those of you readers who are or have been personally impacted by hoarding, I would love your input on some questions I’m teasing out in my research.

I’m working on “Hoarding Memory” as a manifestation of loss in autobiography, but right now my questions are specifically related to the consequences of hoarding. It seems to me that hoarders hoard because they want to hold on to things, can’t bear to part with them, and then the accumulation over time becomes a sort of comforting nest, even if an isolating one. Although the intention is to save or salvage scraps,the sheer quantity of items quickly creates a storage problem. Consequently, the hoarded things that are meant to be preserved instead become inaccessible, forgotten, lost, and many times destroyed.

From your perspective, what are the other consequences of hoarding either on the objects accumulated or on the person who has accumulated them? Those of us who are in someway related to the hoarder are obviously impacted to varying degrees, so I welcome that insight as well.

Many thanks in advance for sharing.


8 responses to “soliciting input on hoarding output

  1. I really think it varies from person to person. The first thoughts I had were “isolation” and “abuse.” Losing a grasp of reality also seems to come into play, but my biggest worry is for the powerless others trapped in the hoard, and the losses that they suffer. No birthday parties. Having to keep a secret. Worrying about being weird, smelling, or dressing funny. Hoarding is abuse to anyone else who lives in the hoard, 4 times out of 5, and simply living with anyone with a mental illness is a constant, often helpless challenge. Especially if the person with the disorder refuses to admit or to treat the problem.

  2. Thank you for this, Sid. If I had to turn it back to the hoarder, then, would you say there’s a severe form of narcissism at work? Inability to look out for others… neglect? I guess gross neglect is indeed a common trait. And then imposing oneself on others, something I suffered with my Dad long before he began hoarding.

  3. Um, I’d say it is often narcissism. Just ask Thalia, at Tetanus Burger. But, narcissism does NOT apply to all situations.

    Something we learned when we met with Dr. Chabaud was hoarders prioritize things over animals (if involved), then over people. Keep in mind these are things they can’t find, or use, or love, or even remember that they have them. Yet the people are more negligible.

    But you know that. And I *am* painting with a broad brush. But overall, that was a sad realization I took away from New Orleans this summer. And there were many.

  4. I meant to thank you for posting the link to her survey which I still intend to do if it’s still open. Thanks for the additional reflections. I feel both pained and protected when I read others’ accounts as COH, since my father didn’t go nuts collecting until I was out of the house. In fact, during my childhood he was a militant clean freak – as long as we were doing the chores and not him. Thanks for the priority list here. I need to add Chabaud to my reading list. a.

  5. I think it’s open until she gets enough feedback; it isn’t date based at this point. Oh, yes, Dr, Chabaud is knowledgable (sp) and caring.

  6. I agree with what sid has to say – I started that survey but need to finish. Anyway – it’s funny you mentioned narcissism – only this year, decades after I’ve left my mother’s home, I was watching Criminal Minds (of all things) and they were describing Narcissistic Personality Disorder and I was thinking “Wow, that sounds a lot like my mom!” Because we kids were loved by her, I feel, very possessively. Like a child might love a doll. We were displayed, bragged about, toted around but I honestly don’t believe that she love us, or even *knew* us as persons or individuals. Any success or achievement that we achieved was a reflection to her because we where hers. I still feel that today.
    Also, I don’t know how prevalent this is with other COH, but I have very LITTLE recollection of my childhood. My memories are VERY spotty until about age 8. My siblings are the same. My brother even says “I specifically remember forgetting all that.”

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Michelle. What you said really strikes a (bad) chord with me as I remember feeling a heavy burden to legitimize all my parents’ failings. If I got perfect grades in school (I often did), my dad would brag to everyone about it but never praise me. When I finally started to get divorced after a long-dead relationship and sought professional therapy, I quickly realized that I had only stayed in the marriage to not disappoint my father and that leaving my spouse wasn’t a difficult decision at all. It makes me sick to think about. In fact, the only reason this is an anonymous blog is to protect my father.

      Unlike you, however, and like the blog title here, I have a ton of overly detailed memories about my childhood. My father tells me many of them are wrong, but I have crystal clear images of numerous odd things from age 2 and up. A student of mine told me once, however, that it is impossible for me to have memories like that from before school-age, according to psychological research. Who knows…

  7. My mother says she has memories from that young or possibly younger. But then she will also tell me the memories (that I DO have) are wrong too, especially if they don’t fit into her denied reality. I’ve had to go and validate the memories I do have, otherwise I’d be left questioning my own sanity.

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