I just read an article on research in Hoarding Disorder. I had watched a few episodes of the cable show, and I felt so bad for most of the hoarders. I'd seen that they were very upset about things being thrown out, and I was myself a little upset because the people working at throwing things out didn't seem to understand the depth of the problem. It's not just laziness, but I had no other explanation or suggestion except that logic had nothing to do with it, so using logic was not an answer.
I learned long ago that where emotional reactions or brain dysfunction is concerned, logic doesn't exist.
The article is "Inside the Hoarder’s Brain: A Unique Problem with Decision-Making", full article here. An excerpt:
...the study found that people with hoarding disorder took much longer to make decisions about discarding their possessions and felt more sadness and anxiety about these choices than did the other participants. “One of the characteristics of hoarding is that people feel this sense of discomfort if they feel like they may be giving away something that they could use in future,” says Hollander, explaining that patients often become greatly distressed or even angry if they are pushed to give up apparently useless or excess possessions.Jay was absolutely a hoarder. Kitchen garbage, things that would rot or attract bugs, went out, but nothing else that entered the house ever left. I had to toss junk mail and empty cereal boxes when he wasn't looking. If he bought a tube of super glue for some project, and it hardened in the tube after opening (as they all do), he would insist on keeping the tube anyway. "It worked really well, so I want to keep the tube so I can buy the same stuff if I ever need something like that again."
So, it’s not that hoarders are slobs or obsessive collectors. Rather, it’s that they have problems making the kinds of decisions about their stuff that others would consider reasonable.
That "something they could use in the future" really hit home. I heard that over and over from Jay. Also, he had been diagnosed as an Aspie just before his final surgery, and Asperger's is related to autism (mentioned in the article). Jay had difficulty with ALL decisions.
Also the "sadness and anxiety" part. Jay actually hyperventilated when I threw out a huge box-load of UNOPENED junk mail he had moved with him from Texas seven years before. He got very upset and restless, and started hiding things in the den.
It all fits so well.
Me, I've got a lot of junk, way too much junk, but it doesn't qualify as hoarding. It's the detritus of pity-me shopping sprees, especially in the four or five years after Jay died, trying to fill my empty life. I've got to get rid of much of it. It's not that I "think" it's valuable - it IS valuable, I know because I paid a small fortune for it. It's not that I can't bear to get rid of it, it's that I want to get out of it close to what I put into it. That's work, a lot of work, and I don't have time for it right now. So, I'm not a hoarder - I am absolutely and frankly a lazy procrastinator.
(P.S. - the Asperger's link might explain why so many Mensan's homes are so terribly cluttered.)