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CCD: Compulsive Clutter Disorder August 2, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Less IS More.

Clearing clutter from our homes and minds results in real benefits to our health and well-being.

To find previous posts, search “clutter.” 

Now let’s talk about a few of the very real risks of refusing to deal with extreme clutter:

Illness, Injury, and Death.

Hoarding behavior is on the rise ~ a growing public health problem which results when people collect mountains of possessions and refuse to whittle down the piles.  In extreme cases, hoarding leads to fires, attracts vermin, and results in health risks to occupants of crowded living spaces.

Studies suggest that 2-5% of the population suffer from compulsive hoarding behavior.

Although classified as an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, psychiatrists have yet to determine if hoarding results from a compulsion or an addiction.

For that reason, psychiatrists may soon characterize hoarding as its own disorder, with symptoms of:  persistent difficulty discarding possessions,  strong urges to save items, and the excessive accumulation of possessions.

Whatever its cause and characteristics, excessive clutter can kill:

* Rescue workers drilled a hole in the roof of a suburban Chicago home to extract an 82-year-old woman’s body this month.

They couldn’t get through the doorway because her home was filled almost to the ceiling with cardboard boxes, furniture, clothing and other junk.  She and her daughter had been crawling through tunnels to move around the Skokie, Illinois, house.

* One of the most famous cases dates back to the Collyer brothers of New York City.

In 1947, Langley Collyer was killed by one of the booby traps he had devised in his Harlem apartment to protect nearly 130 tons of junk. His older brother, Homer Collyer, who was blind and crippled by arthritis, starved to death in the apartment about 10 feet away, according to news reports.

* In February, a woman died inside her El Paso, Texas, home in a fire.

Newspapers strewn throughout her house fueled the flames, and firefighters weren’t able to reach her because of the clutter, said Felix Cabrera, a resources and external relations specialist at the Adult Protective Services in El Paso.

Due to its increasing prevalence, several cable networks now air shows centered around hoarding behavior and its dangers:

* TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive
* A&E’s Hoarders
* Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding

As demonstrated, hoarders attach excessive significance to objects and become unable to  throw things away.  Over time, they lose the ability to separate trash from treasure, viewing all objects as meaningful.

If we are consumed with possessions, those possessions may consume us.

For more information:  Hoarding Called A Public Health Issue (AARP)

For tips on Decluttering:  Declutter 101

Related posts:  Simplify Your Life * Give Your Stuff Away Day * Between The Wish & The Thing You Better Stop Shopping Around * I Don’t Want Stuff Anymore, Only Things  (Raptitude) * Woman Found Dead Amid Clutter


1. Barbara Gunn - August 2, 2010

A cluttered environment often indicates a cluttered mind.

nrhatch - August 2, 2010

I agree! Living in uncluttered spaces certainly adds to my peace of mind and serenity.

If I visit people with “too much stuff,” I feel physically uneasy and restless, and my mind becomes agitated and “confused” by the sensory overload.

cindy - August 2, 2010

Well, Nancy, you’d need a few valium if you visit me; I have a lot of ‘stuff’. At least it’s fanatically organised 🙂

nrhatch - August 3, 2010

I’ve seen photos of your place, it doesn’t seem frenzied and chaotic.

Lovely stacks of trunks topped with a single Buddha = CALM

A sofa covered with Buddhas of every shape and size = CHAOS

Even if chaos reigns, I’m sure a meditative (Merlot) moment in the garden would restore my equilibrium to an even keel.

2. Agatha82 - August 2, 2010

I am the opposite of a hoarder, I honestly do not understand them at all. Objects are just material things. I can understand perhaps things with sentimental value, but in the end, it’s the person who gave them to you that truly matters instead of the actual belonging.

nrhatch - August 2, 2010

Alannah, when I read about all the stuff you’ve jettisoned, you became my hero.

You shall henceforth be known on SLTW as Captain of Clutter Patrol! : )

You rock!

Agatha82 - August 3, 2010

Love that title 🙂

3. Loreen Lee - August 2, 2010

It’s a good analogy for having a ‘cluttered mind’! Yes?

nrhatch - August 2, 2010

Perhaps. : )

4. Loreen Lee - August 2, 2010

Just in case anyone wan ts to clutter their mind a bit more, a friend just introduced me to a new book some of you might be interested in:
The Tenth Insight
Holding the Vision: An Experiential Guide.
James Redfield and Carol Adrienne. So if anyone liked the Celestine Prophecy this is his ‘new one’.

nrhatch - August 2, 2010

Thanks, Loreen ~ I’ll check it out.

5. Chrissie - August 2, 2010

Wow – isn’t it funny how life replicates itself. Myself and my partner have spent the day clearing space and organizing, I have 5kids here tonight and the house feels fresh and organised. How incredibly refreshing and empowering! I was talking about James Redfield only half an hour ago! Loreen, Thank You – I’m off to Amazon! X Happy Spaces, Happy Minds!

nrhatch - August 2, 2010

Love the little *winks* from the Universe! : )

6. Joanne - August 2, 2010

First-hand experience as a gypsy… I’m currently reducing all of my personal belongings to fit into a 4X8 U-Haul… It is cathartic and liberating… I’m labeled OCD for my decluttering, cleanliness and organizational habits by people who are typically CCD… I’m cool with that, when I consider the source(s) 😀

nrhatch - August 3, 2010

You go, girl.

I read somewhere about a guy who only owns 100 Things at a time. That amazed me. I’m sure that I have more than 100 CD’s, more than 100 books, more than 100 articles of clothing.

Wait . . . I wonder if he’s only got like 2 prs. of briefs. Wear one, wash the other? : )

Have fun with your efforts to reduce!

7. Candice Dominguez Dahlgren - August 3, 2010

CCD…Compulsive Clutter Disorder. Someone has put a name to it. And that makes it even more frightening to me. And I have the symptoms listed…all of them. I seem to feel that if my home is CLEAN (no dirty dishes or kitchen mess, unwashed laundry, nasty bathrooms, etc.), then the CLUTTER is innocuous. I read above that Nancy feels physically uneasy, restless, confused, etc., when she visits someone like me. So here’s the odd thing: while I feel really good after one of my rare “clean sweeps” of my house, as it starts to gradually go back to a stack of unread magazines here (I’ll get to ’em before bed!) and a box of art stuff there (I’m gonna start that project ‘tomorrow’!), I find myself become more comfortable. I’ve got my “stuff” and I’m not gonna need ANYTHING and not have it. This is great information and it’s helpful to me; I really want to fix this if I can. Also, a dear friend of mine has this disorder (no pun intended) and I’m afraid his is acute. His home makes mine look like Martha Stewart lives here.

Oh, and about James Redfield, THE CELESTINE PROPHECY was a life-changing experience for me that has stayed with me for about 20 years now, and is so ingrained in me, I don’t expect it’s teachings to leave me. So, what is this new one you guys are discussing? Does it relate to this subject of CCD? Thanks in advance for your replies.

nrhatch - August 3, 2010

Hey Candice!

CCD is my name for the disorder . . . others might call it Hoarder’s Disorder. : )

Like you, I have a pile of stuff “to be read” in my office. I just try to make sure that the pile doesn’t become a mountain before I start digging through it. : )

I can’t tell you much about the new book by Redfield. Anyone else?

Thanks for stopping in to say hey!

Loreen Lee - August 3, 2010

I just found out about the new book: The Tenth Insight, and thought I’d spread the word if anyone interested. that’s all. I did make a pun, irony about clearing out the clutter in the mind, but that’s my thing, the irony, that is! (Or cluttering it with ‘another book’ to read, all depends on how you take it, I guess.)

8. aardvarkian - August 3, 2010

Do you want to come over and declutter my place? It looks like a bomb hit it.

nrhatch - August 3, 2010

When in doubt . . . toss it out!

But not today. Today is your birthday. Go on and have a good time.

9. deepercolors - August 15, 2010

I agree with Aarvarkian. When you are through with that place you can come and to mine.
Another mental illness. Just what we need. And I’ll bet they will have another drug to go along with it. Not helpful.
Encouragement is what is needed, not labels.

nrhatch - August 15, 2010

Once people realize they have a problem, they can find the encouragement they need in any number of places ~ books, internet, friends, etc.

In fact, if they look through the stack of newspapers sitting on the living room floor, they might find just the article they need to get started. : )

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