Friday, 25 May 2012

Hoarder or clutterbug?

I've been watching with a mixture of relief, fascination and horror the recent glut of tv programmes about chronic hoarding problems. In my work as a professional organiser, I can truthfully say that I very seldom come across anybody who is a 'hoarder' in that sense. Plenty of folks have stuff they need help sorting, or storing, or disposing of; some may need help seeing the wood for the trees; some may (as one client memorably put it) just be suffering from 'can't-be-bothered syndrome' (that wasn't her exact expression!).

However, for some people it's a far more serious problem, possibly endangering life and limb. Hoarding is coming to be accepted as a genuine psychological and medical problem, in the same way as (for example) alcoholism may become an unwanted behaviour with true roots and potential treatment. They can't (and shouldn't) be dismissed as 'laziness' or 'malingering'.

I have written at some length about my feelings on the matter, and in my capacity as President of apdo-uk - the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers. Our members feel very strongly about the issue, for several reasons.

  • Appreciate what exactly constitutes a hoarder - and when the answers are much simpler and more easily dealt with 
  • Recognise what help is available and where that help can come from
  • From a professional organiser's perspective, to be able to offer appropriate support and assistance - and to know when other interventions are needed beyond those we can offer.

I feel strongly that - as with all unwanted behaviours - we all need to be honest with ourselves: to recognise the help we require, and to seek that help accordingly. Have a look at the article, and see what you think.

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