what is a hoarder

What is a Hoarder – Clutter Defined

What is a hoarder? A hoarder is anyone who buys, finds, collects and keeps everything they can get their hands on because they have a hard time throwing things away…a really hard time.And unless you’ve been featured on The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, your place is probably too cramped which is really just a nice way of saying cluttered.

When “Having It All” Become Too Much…


You may have asked why do people hoard things, what starts them on that “I can’t throw it out” path.  Well, we may have to go back into time…no, not to your parents or grandparents, not even our great-grandparents…We may have to go back, way back, into a time when those very large creatures with small heads (dinosaurs) roamed the earth and Neanderthals (humans) lived in caves.

Picture it: man goes out to gather wood for a fire to keep the cave warm (fire good); a man comes back with too much wood; a woman puts the excess in the corner for a later time; a woman goes out to gather flowers to brighten up the cave (hey, Martha Stewart did not invite home decor, okay…); too many flowers go in the corner…bones from dinner go in the corner…bear skins go in the corner…junior goes in the corner for a time out…

So this has been ingrained in our psyche, so you can’t be to blame, not completely anyway.  But in order to get to the root of hoarding, we have to look at the different types (yes, there are different types).  And what’s really interesting – or horrifying, depending on your view – is that hoarding can reflect in not only how well we maintain our closets, rooms, homes or apartments, this can also filter into our workplace!  I know…this may not be pretty, but we can’t fix it if we don’t know where it’s broken, can we…

The “One Day” Gal/Guy Am I a hoarder

At Home:

One day, I’ll be able to fit into that dress; one day I’ll wear that suit again; one day those shoes won’t fit so tight; one day I’ll organize those papers piling up on the desk; one day I’ll clean out the refrigerator; one day I’ll clean out the cabinets; one day I’ll fold all those clothes; one day I’ll organize my magazines; one day I’ll organize the garage… I could give you more, but I think you get the picture.

The “One Day” Gal/Guy always seems to have their eyes fixated on the magical mystical day in the future when the stars are in alignment, all children obey their parents, and we finally have world peace.  In the minds of the ODG, they have set a date so it seems okay, but that date is really not an actual date, so it never comes.

This means that the ODG is “off the hook” from fulfilling their obligations because technically, that day, the day, has not arrived. So clothing that’s too small remains in the closet; shoes that don’t fit line the closet floors; the refrigerator always looks as if it’s about to burst; clothes don’t get folded and the garage will never get cleaned.

At Work:

One day I’ll finish that report; one day I’ll organize my inbox; one day I’ll call those vendors back; one day I’ll have that talk with the staff; one day I’ll talk with my boss; one day I’ll get the information for opening up my own business…as you can see hoarding, in terms of work or business, may not necessarily be tangible things we may be hoarding, some of those things we’re stashing could just be thoughts that hold us back that can keep us from getting that promotion or worse…fired.  Now, since I don’t have a “Ph. D” at the end of my name, I’ll stop here; but if you think you fall into this category, it may be worth exploring more.

The Accumulator/CollectoAm I a hoarder

At Home:

The Accumulator/Collector may have a little bit of ODG in their system and they may actually have a “legitimate” collection of items, especially if they are collecting antiques.  But more often than not, their collections are incomplete.  Now, unless the Accumulator/Collector has a place to fit all their collections, like a whole room or another house (yes, some people have actually bought another house and rented it out just to keep their extra…ah…collections) they will have to take some time to examine the “what” and “why” behind their stuff.

Some questions Accumulator/Collectors can ask:  Do I really need this stuff? What’s the point of me collecting all of this?  Does it really have any monetary value?  If it does have monetary value, at what point will I “cash in”?  Do I have sufficient space to display my collection(s)?

At Work:

Outside of accumulating the basic office supplies (pens, paperclips, notepads), It’s unlikely the Accumulator/Collector is going to bring in a 10 ft fountain from the 18th century to the office, so there may not be cause for alarm here.  But one thing about many Collectors is that they pay attention to detail, so imagine if they applied the same gusto to their job or business.

Just so you know you’re in good company, here are a few famous Collectors to get you pumped: Oprah, Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Sir Elton John, and of course Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani (I know you were wondering about her).

The Secret Stasher Am I a hoarder

At Home:

Ahh…the secrets we have…contrary to what you may think, the Secret Stasher can live alone and still hide things, simply because they don’t want people to see how much stuff they really have. Unlike the “One Day” Gal/Guy or the Accumulator/Collector, The Secret Stasher may actually have a well-organized system in place.

Everything is probably neatly arranged in containers or stored on shelves…with labels of course. On the surface, it may seem as if there’s nothing wrong, but just because all the stuff is neatly packed away doesn’t hide a hidden fact: there’s still too much stuff.  Because there’s always more stuff being added to the existing stuff, eventually, the space used to hold those neatly labeled storage bins may become too small which can cause overflowing into other rooms.

At Work:

This may be more of an issue for anyone who works from home…actually, this could be a major issue for anyone who works from home.  If I were to take a psychological stab at this, this could be a sign of someone who is a bit indecisive.  I’ve often labeled myself as an Organized Hoarder because I like things neat and orderly, but I still have too much stuff.  The reality is that no matter what adjective you place before or after the word “hoarder’, it’s still hoarding…

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?!  The whole point of this is not to make anyone feel bad, weird or uncomfortable, but to help each other to be more organized in all areas of our lives.  You may have an idea of which category you fit into, but stay tuned for a test that will help you to determine which of the hoarding styles you tend to lean more towards; more than likely, you may have overlapping styles.

I would love to hear from you, so please make sure to leave your comments below.

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