Pathological hoarding and how to deal with it?

Pathological hoarding is a condition characterized by an irresistible craving for collecting a huge number of various objects and objects. All these piles create incredible disorder and chaos, which prevents a person from functioning normally in everyday life and prevents him from using his home for its intended purpose. In addition, all this negatively affects the quality of life of this person and / or harms his relationship with other people. Despite all these negative consequences, a person with a craving for pathological hoarding often panics at the very thought of getting rid of all these things.

Causes of the syndrome

Pathological hoarding is still a poorly studied mental disorder. Among the possible factors provoking the appearance of its symptoms, the researchers distinguish:

  • Hyperbolized negative character traits (greed, stinginess).
  • Features of temperament (sentimentality, vulnerability, forcing people to keep unusable things as a memory of a loved one or a pleasant event).
  • Psychotrauma received after a forced life in conditions of poverty, lack of food and material benefits.
  • An example of parents suffering from unreasonable hoarding.
  • Childhood, burdened by a lack of love and attention from parents, who do not often indulge in gifts and necessary purchases.
  • Stress after a personal tragedy, causing the storage of things that remind of a deceased relative or loved one with whom you have lost contact.
  • Loneliness, prompting the erroneous idea of ​​the possibility of successfully replacing real communication with an environment of things.
  • Consequences of traumatic brain injury, pathologies of the nervous system or concomitant symptoms of cancer.
  • Senile dementia.
  • Regardless of the cause  syndrome, this condition requires treatment.

Forms of pathological hoarding

The syndrome most often manifests itself in the following forms:

  • Loss of control over the process of acquiring things (purchases are pointless, that is, they are unreasonable).
  • Painful perception of the need to dispose of useless items.
  • Disguising a mental deviation under the guise of love for vintage objects (which do not add charm to the home interior, but simply clutter up the space).
  • Imaginary collecting.
  • Storage of worn-out and obsolete clothes, out-of-order equipment that cannot be repaired, and other items that could theoretically come in handy someday.
  • The position of conservatism and pro-reserveism is the accumulation at home of a large number of blanks in banks and disproportionately large volumes of long-term storage products as a “strategic reserve”.
  • People who turn their home into a shelter for stray animals, according to many researchers, also suffer from pathological hoarding in its non-standard form.

Methods for the treatment of pathological hoarding

There is no generally accepted universal and effective strategy for the treatment  syndrome. The practiced therapy is aimed at adapting the patient to life in the surrounding world. However, the methods used cannot eliminate the symptoms of the disorder.

The psychologist only teaches a person suffering from pathological hoarding to control his abnormal state, minimize the severity of obsessive behavior, and helps to find the root cause.
The syndrome of unhealthy hoarding is generated by the fear of losing control over the situation. The impact of the traumatic factor provoking the development of the disorder in most patients occurred in the distant past.

Some people with an unstable psyche, faced with an extraordinary circumstance, felt lonely or helpless, others began to fear the future, to see danger in everything unknown. Both those and others, having received psychotrauma, subconsciously refused to leave the comfort zone, acquired a phobia before changes.

Only a psychotherapist will help to quickly identify the root cause of the disorder and work out a reaction to the impact of a traumatic factor. Among the methods used by specialists in the practice of combating manifestations of pathological accumulation, the most effective are recognized:

  • confidential conversation, during which the causes of the syndrome are clarified, and then corrective tactics are developed;
  • demonstration of an anti-example (watching films about patients with a similar disorder).

Pathological hoarding is a far from harmless mental disorder. Having reached its climax in its development, it disorients and desocializes a person. Therefore, it is important to help the patient to realize the presence of the problem and to start correcting his destructive habits and thoughts as soon as possible. It is impossible to change the past, but it is quite possible to change your attitude towards it.