Are you in danger of becoming a hoarder?


I am appalled by those reality television shows where people’s homes look like the city dump.

But could I be heading in that direction because I’m sentimental and loathe to part with many useless items that are crowding my home? The thought has me scrambling to my stash of garbage bags.


Some pack rats have a lot of stuff, but they know where everything is. That’s not the case with the condition known as hoarding.

“There will be no apparent organization to the clutter,” says Gerald G. Osborn, DO, director of behavioral neurosciences at the Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harrogate, Tenn. ” Things appear to be stacked precariously at random or even tossed inside the room.”

With compulsive hoarders, not only will you find a lot of stuff, but a good deal of that stuff will be useless. “Some signs of compulsive hoarding include keeping junk mail, catalogs, magazines, or newspapers,” says Kent Holtorf, MD, the founder of the Holtorf Medical Group in Torrance, Calif.

“You cannot give up clothes that you have not worn in years, thinking you may want to wear them some day. Or you keep broken appliances and other things that you think you will get around to fixing some day.”  Ditto on both.

I have two lamps that I dearly love, but they have shorted out and I’m afraid to ever plug them in again.  And I still have clothing that belonged to my mother who died in 1977.  I cannot bring myself to toss a few random pieces of my everyday china I received in 1970, the year I married. It’s called Poppy Trail and it’s hideous.

I have six or eight pots and pans which I no longer use because Braddock insists Teflon is unsafe, plus a drawer full of at least 50 pair of pantyhose  I was saving to tie up my tomatoes. It’s never going to happen.

Today is the day I let go of anything that smacks of hoarding.

It appears that this obsessive-compulsive disorder is about much more than just messiness. Hoarding is a mental illness, and people who experience it need real help to overcome it. As Barney Fife would say, I’d better “nip it in the bud.”


Update – my Texas friend sent the following advice which I plan to take.  Great ideas for converting from a
“hoarder” to a “saver.”  Like these ideas very much.  Now, think I can rewire a lamp without electrocuting myself?

Just read your article on hoarding.  Hope I”m not too late  to help you (whether you want it or not).
1st – If your lamps have bad wiring – it’s very easy to rewire one.  Just go to Home Depot or whatever store and get a new lamp kit.  It’s easy to thread and then you don’t have to throw out the lamps you love.
2nd.  Don’t throw out your mother’s clothes.  Find someone (go to a quilt store) and get the names of quilters who are recognized at being really good, and have them create a quilt out of the clothes.  It will always be a keepsake for you and your boys, and hopefully little ones some day.
3rd.  There is a website (don’t remember the name, but you can google it) that deals in hard to find china pieces.  They will pay to buy the china from you.  Or, you can smash it up and create a beautiful table to use inside or outside.
I’m a saver – not a hoarder.  Someday I WILL be able to use the things I’m saving now – i.e., antiques, holiday decorations, etc.

5 thoughts on “Are you in danger of becoming a hoarder?

  1. Emily, you are way to social to become a real hoarder! You will always have a place for a friend to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee…none of those people on the hoarding shows I’ve seen could even find their coffee pots. My niece had her class view one of the shows and relate it to seeking the “American dream.” I thought that was fascinating. Good blog.

  2. I love the quilt out of loved clothing!
    I have a hard time getting rid of things, too.
    As I get older the stuff just grows.
    But I am now inspired to go weed out some drawers and closets!
    Thank you Emily.

  3. Gosh, I had Poppy Trail dishes too!! I think mine had yellow daisies on them……………

  4. Oh my gosh, Ann. We are soul sustahs. I loved that stuff for about 10 minutes, broke almost every piece by 1975 – you just never could get food to look good on those plates. Never forget the time I used baking soda (didn’t know there was a difference in soda and powder) in my first batch of cornbread and my husband at the time spit it out. I took my poppytrail plate and dropped it on the floor then ran to the bathroom in tears – there went the first piece. Do you still have any left?

    I guess I blame Poppytrail for the failure of the marriage – certainly not me.

  5. I think the right management of things at home is an important thing. But thanks for sharing this great article!

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