Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Collector, Hoarder or Disorganized?

As I approached the highway yesterday morning, I caught the end of a morning radio show. The hosts were talking about the approach of spring and the need to do some spring cleaning, stating that "everyone hoards something, everyone has too much of something." There was agreement around the table, then each divulged what they had too much of.

"I have too many pairs of Converse running shoes. Thirty seven pairs to be exact."

"I have too many mini, hotel toiletries."

"I have too much pasta. I find it all over the place."

By this time, I had a huge smile on my face. Hoarding, a word virtually unknown a few years ago, is now part of the everyday vernacular. There are obvious benefits to understanding that hoarding behaviour exists, but there are still many people unable to differentiate between hoarding, collecting and just being disorganized.

I don't doubt that these three colleagues used the word hoarding lightly, and realize that none of them are displaying true hoarding behaviour. Nonetheless, I have seen people who either judge themselves too harshly, or remain oblivious to the seriousness of the situation that their stuff creates. So, allow me to use the banter of our morning DJs to provide a simple example of what differentiates a collector, or disorganized individual from a hoarder.

Mr. Converse, is a collector: he takes great care of his shoes, has a system for wearing them, and shows them off, (by wearing them), regularly.

Ms. Hotel Toiletries, also a collector: she collects the minis so as to put together a little spa package for overnight house guests. There is a reason for her collection, and she too shares her collection with others.

Mr. Pasta, just a little disorganized: He buys something that he likes and wants to cook, he just needs to establish a system i.e. designate one place for pasta in his kitchen, so that he can easily identify what he has, and determine if a trip to the grocery store is needed.

The behaviours of the people above don't even come close to what we consider hoarding behaviour. Most notably, people with hoarding tendencies would likely never discuss what they have. Sadly, people who hoard keep their lives a secret, or remain unaware of the harm that results from their behaviour.

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