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How hoarding could be doing you damage

Date
Hoarders have been warned they can face health risks.

Hoarders have been warned they can face health risks. Photo: Armelle Habib

About one million Australians face problems associated with hoarding and squalor, a Brisbane forum has been told.

New figures suggest hoarding is on the rise across the nation and its effects can be devastating, from evictions and homelessness to ill health and neighbourhood disputes.

The forum was shown images of homes metres deep in piles of items residents were unable to part with.

University of NSW psychologist and hoarding expert Jessica Grisham said it was originally estimated that about one per cent of the Australian population faced hoarding-related issues.

But current estimates put the figure as high as five per cent, Dr Grisham said.

She said hoarding was now deemed a separate mental disorder, not a sub-classification of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Hoarders often started in their teens but others began hoarding after traumatic experiences, such as divorce, later in life, Dr Grisham said.

There's also evidence to show hoarding can run in families.

Brisbane City councillor Krista Adams told the forum the issue of hoarding and squalor had not been well recognised and dealt with in Brisbane.

"This is a problem which confronts one million Australians and it is a priority for the (Brisbane City) council," she said.

The council was often involved in neighbourhood disputes and forced clean-ups of properties, which were expensive, Ms Adams said.

Centacare Brisbane community support director Kerri Lancaster said the forum aimed to increase awareness about hoarding and squalor and share the best ways of dealing with it.

"Hoarding and squalor is a severe issue in Queensland affecting not only the people living in such environments, but also their families, carers, neighbourhoods and communities," she said.

The forum continues on Tuesday.

AAP

44 comments so far

  • This is an article I will keep !

    Commenter
    charlie
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    October 29, 2012, 4:07PM
    • Golden rule in our house.
      One item in - one item out.

      Keeps it under control.

      Commenter
      Nicco
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      October 29, 2012, 4:17PM
      • I do not believe in hoarding. All you have to do is prop up a garbage bag, go through every drawer and cupboard in your place and ask "Do you want it? Yes - Do you need it? No!". You will be amazed how quickly you fill up those bags and then call the various charities and they will come and collect them. It is amazing how quickly the clutter builds up. Do this four times a year and you will be fine!

        Commenter
        Frances G
        Date and time
        October 29, 2012, 4:25PM
        • Then I can buy your stuff from the charity and hoard it :) hehe

          Commenter
          good idea
          Date and time
          October 30, 2012, 2:31PM
      • I was raised in a home that was cluttered and dirty - not unlike some of the homes you see on TV shows like 'Hoarders'. My mother was the problem. My sister and I would try and keep the place tidy just for our own sanity, but it would upset my mother as it was 'her home' and if we didn't like the way she kept it, 'we could move out.' Back then, such a person was not considered mentally ill, just lazy and indifferent to squalid living conditions (totally accurate).Today, such a person is labelled mentally ill and therefore has a convenient excuse for their behaviour and yet another reason to avoid accepting responsibility for their actions and how it affect others.

        Commenter
        bargearse
        Date and time
        October 29, 2012, 4:31PM
        • I was raised in the opposite. I had a foster parent who was militant about cleanliness and tidiness.
          Two mugs in the sink were equivalent to domestic disaster, and we'd be yelled at and lectured, and called names if we let ourselves 'go' that far.
          All our adolescence, from 12 until 17, we'd spent cleaning. It was like living in a military academy, but you'd expect it in an academy - not an average suburban home.
          I've hated housework ever since, that's not to say I don't do it or don't thrown things out or am incapable of it, but I don't allow it to rule my life anymore.
          As for hoarding. The type of hoarding that appears on TV programs is a mental illness. It's not mere laziness. It is an illness that may be considered the opposite of OCD, with a few personality disorders thrown in sometimes, or other times, it may be an anxiety disorder.
          The idea of throwing out anything for these people sets off an intense anxiety response. If it was just laziness, the person would smile sheepishly and shrug their shoulders, accept that it was laziness, but in all these cases of pathological hoarding, the people have panic attacks at the mere thought of disposing of one small item, never mind a large item.

          Commenter
          AM
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          October 30, 2012, 10:23AM
      • Its a serious mental illness and can lead to despair and suicide. My guess is it stems from a feeling of powerlessness brought on by events in a person's life but it can also be genetic. The consequence of this is the need to demonstrate control over as much of anything as possible.

        Commenter
        Anon
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        October 29, 2012, 4:34PM
        • When it comes to mental disorders, I would not guess.
          If I was in mental disorder I would seek help from the mental experts aka psychiatrists.
          Psychiatrists diagnose mental disorders and treat these disorders with highest amountof compassion.

          Commenter
          tarzan
          Location
          NSW
          Date and time
          October 30, 2012, 4:42PM
      • Six years ago I built a Granny's flat at the back of my Surry Hills terrace, with the grand idea that I could rent it out and pay down the mortgage faster.

        For the past 6 years it's been full of all the things I didn't want to keep in the house anymore, but I didn't want to get rid of either. It's not rubbish. In fact everything is quite marketable lots of great tools and instruments, motorcycles, and the like.

        Is that hoarding, or is it just avaricious consumerism without space?

        Commenter
        The Golden Horder
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        October 29, 2012, 4:34PM
        • Sir,

          Your situation sounds somewhat similar to mine. Although I have no commercial imperative for clearing out my shed. Even foreign students wouldn't want to live in it!

          Hoarding is a complex issue. The Headline Hoarders on A Current Affair, who collect rubbish and crap they'll never need are obviously whack jobs. But then you've people like you and I who may keep things that don't get used often but when they do, a very handy. Plus, all the chest-beating minimalist, non-hoarders seem to throw away an awful lot of very useful, very expensive, perfectly functional items that I am only too happy to put to task in my own home.

          I think the main thing you've got to do is organise and catalogue. It's no point having that perfect tool/thingymajig out in the shed or back of the cupboard if you can't find it when you need it. I'm slowly getting better. When handy things come in handy I feel a warm glow inside.

          The Lord Will Provide.

          Commenter
          MCPC
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          October 30, 2012, 11:02AM

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