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Old 06-02-2006, 09:43 PM
Written By: Dr LeCrone
Default Clutterbugs- Part I

Does any of this sound familiar?

I have trouble throwing “junk mail” away because I am afraid that I may need some of
the information or a coupon it contains in the future. My closet is full of clothes that I have outgrown or are outdated. I often save leftovers in my refrigerator thinking I will use them for another meal, but I don’t; sometimes the fridge smells and looks like a concoction in a chemistry lab. I love knick-knacks, pictures, statues, and keepsakes and they fill every nook and cranny in my home. I often buy two or three pieces of the same item knowing full well that one is all I need. I rationalize that they are for a future emergency. My attic, garage, closets, and drawers are crammed and are in utter chaos.

If you answered affirmatively to several of the above, then you may be a “clutter-bug,” a hoarder, or simply a pack rat. Unlike real collectors who are organized and who classify their possessions, clutter-bugs usually do not think they have a problem. This affinity for keeping and rarely discarding anything may become a problem for those they live with, especially if these individuals are extremely neat.

In their extreme form, clutter-bugs may reach the magnitude of becoming hoarders. Hoarders may live in a world of such chaos that their problem is diagnosed as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Clutter-bugs stop short of a real hoarding, but they have difficulty letting go of things and simply feel the need to collect and save. They are the pack rats, savers of things that most people declare surplus, valueless, or purposeless.

Whether a hoarder or a compulsive saver, the habit of these individuals may get out of control. They may go from being collectors as a part of a hobby to being like a junk dealer who collects everything. Sometimes they develop a strong sentimental attachment to certain articles and will refuse to part with them even if the memories connected to them have faded. Usually, friends and family can tell the clutter-bugs when they have exceeded the boundaries of acceptability, but getting them to change is often difficult. They might reduce clutter for a time but then the pack rat trait emerges and things begin to pile up again.

Next week we will continue to talk about habits of these clutter-bugs and offer some suggestions for helping them.

Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright 2005

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