reply to post by femmefreud
You can search the net on hoarding/pack-rat-ism.
It's a serious disorder.
REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER and/or perfectionism on the part of parents are undoubtedly big factors.
I doubt serious studies and articles would influence her. This is deeply ingrained. I have a friend like that. There has been slight progress in 4
years. She does not . . . have breaks with reason near as often and has stopped buying so compulsively.
A spider in her bedroom freaked her out and she went on a cleaning binge. It was aborted about 20% into it for 'other priorities.' Though she spends
countless hours on the net. She did a similar cleaning binge to about 30-40% of what was needed in the spare bedroom now hard to enter because of
mostly her stuff.
I have insisted on no stuff in the hallway across from the washer and dryer. Has been very difficult to get that to stick but I'm not caving in.
She had serious emotional abuse all her growing up. She was convinced her Dad deliberately with great meanness and forethought set out to abuse her
emotionally for sick jollies every day of her life.
His perspective is that she was so full of herself he had to ride her sternly to enable her to be tolerable for others to be around.
I'm sure there's plenty of truth to both . . . and their personalities are, of course, near identical.
So, she had plenty of ATTACHMENT DISORDER. And there was plenty of perfectionism as well.
Anyway--reading up on hoarding/packratism on the net should give you a lot of other details about the disorder.
Incremental shaping behaviors with BEHAVIOR MOD CAN have some impact IF you have a LOT of contact
AND IF she really values your relationship.
You could start with the chair you normally sit in when visiting. You could one day insist that say an 8.5 X 11" space to the right of that chair not
have anything put there when you come to visit. If you walk in the next time and something is there, walk out.
Trouble is, her compulsions are so intense . . . that might be too big a jump. You might have to start with decreasing the height of the stack in that
space slowly down to nothing.
Therapy could help but I doubt she'd go.
Taking every visit about qualities in her personality that you like and why . . . could slowly help some. But we're talking about 800-1,500
repetitions of affirming comments very congruent and sincere and honest . . . before they would begin to scratch the surface of her worthlessness,
I'm sure some psychiatrists would talk medication but that's not my bias.
I think cognitive behavioral therapy is far better but that's a LOT of work. I'm skeptical she'd be up to 5% of the work required.
She'd have to want to change a lot and she doesn't want to change any.
The malady is somewhat life threatening . . . on cleanliness basis. And some such folks have been discovered buried under piles of stuff that fell
over on them . . . months later. Not a pretty thing to find.
It would be interesting to collect such stories and share them with her. She'll deny it has anything to do with her but it would be interesting to
see just how thick her denial is.
One could arrange with a therapist and any other friends and relatives she has to have a FAMILY INTERVENTION a la an alcoholic. But I'm skeptical how
impactful it would be.
I don't know what she'd do if her family et al threatened to get her declared incompetent and force her to live in a half-way house TOTALLY LOSING
HER HOARD. That would be a very interesting dilema for her.
She's likely not such an obvious danger to herself at this point. When she's 70-90 years old still that way--she'd be plenty danger to herself. And
the fire hazard is probably already significant as is likely the health hazard.
How does she feel about pets? She probably doesn't have any.
I doubt she has many friends. Are you the only one close to her?
It would be very tricky then to use your relationship. She'd still have a lot of compulsion to put her hoard first regardless of you being her only
friend. You wouldn't have much leverage. But shaping behavior involves very tiny steps . . . like teaching a pigeon to play ping pong.
It would be interesting to bring her some favorite food or some such each visit. And insist that she has to 'buy' the food by giving you some at
least 12" pile of paper junk that she hasn't touched in over 6 months.
AT first, I'd probably just walk out with it when I left. After a few times succeeding with that, I'd bring a trash can with me and tear it all into
bits in front of her. If fruit was her favorite, I'd give her some pieces of fruit after every handful torn to bits.
I might also feed her paranoia/fears a bit by talking about the stories of piles falling in on spinster old ladies and killing them.
If she was afraid of spiders or mice . . . I might experiment with tweaking her with such 'sightings' of such critters running between and behind
piles. But all that would be VERY tricky and would likely have to be done in an obviously playful satirical way. But even spoofs like that would
likely wind up her paranoia a bit.
That could be counter productive in that more paranoia and anxiety so easily translates into more hoarding. However, if she's near her max already,
that could be a problem for her that might begin to force some loosening of her death grip on the junk.
Sounds mostly like a MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, to me.
I know from my housemate that some change is possible with diagnoses that my profs etc. would have insisted would never change in the slightest in a
better direction and could only get worse.
But it's very slow--maddeningly slow. And one has to have some capacity to make them offers they can't refuse. I doubt you have such leverage.
But you could experiment with whatever leverage you have and see if you could trigger even the slightest movement toward health.
Water wears away granite. Could be better than arriving some day and finding her dead under big piles of chaos.
Anyway--this psychologist's 2 cents of armchair distant shrinking.
[edit on 15/11/2009 by BO XIAN]