What it’s Like to Hoard

This beautifully written essay by Elizabeth Friend was just published on Vox.com:

I think I’m becoming a hoarder

— and I’m afraid there’s no way out

I’m pretty sure my partner and I are hoarders, or least well on our way. We have one entire room in our house that’s too full of clutter to walk through — a library of junk. It’s not like we can spare the space. We live with our 3-year-old and two dogs in a 1,200-square-foot house, but it feels much smaller. The junk room door is always closed. My daughter doesn’t even know we have a third bedroom.

Here’s the link to the full article:


Elizabeth gives a great description of what we in the organizing biz call CHAOS: Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.  In extreme hoarding situations, people may have legitimate fears of eviction or of having their children and/or pets taken from them.  But, to a lesser degree, many people (at least, occasionally) feel a sense of shame about their home environment great enough to impact their social lives.  The goal of a professional organizer should be to help clients arrange their lives and homes in ways that are comfortable for the client – not to create utterly unrealistic Martha Stewart-style magazine spreads.

I shared this article with my regional NAPO chapter members.  The part of the story about the three-time “no show” organizer horrified me.  I’m happy to report that the article was further shared with a national member who specializes in hoarding.  This organizer contacted the author and gave her the names of several qualified professional organizers in her area.  The flaky organizer, it turns out, was a house cleaner who added “professional home organizer” to her business card.  Perhaps this story will have a happy ending after all!






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