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  #51  
Old 01-22-2020, 12:36 PM
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I have hoarding inclinations, myself. One of my best friends is a hoarder, as was his father. A couple of my relatives also tend to be packrats. Not as extreme as the worst examples that I have seen on those shows, however.

I can only watch the shows briefly. Hits to close to home!
  #52  
Old 01-22-2020, 01:08 PM
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I don't think I'm a hoarder, but I probably look like one and might be one.

I probably look like one because I have things like a large pile of cardboard boxes in one room that I haven't got around to breaking down and hauling out to the dumpster. But that's not me hoarding it; that's me being a lazy-ass. (And it's hygienic - I wouldn't do that with unhygienic stuff.) I also have the odd thing here or there that I could throw away, like my old textbooks from college that I'll never look at again, but they're not in the way and hauling that stuff out to the dumpster is, like, work. (Seriously, books are heavy!)


On the other hand I might actually be a hoarder because I'm a collector. Not a random crap collector - I have three (or four, or five) specific things that I collect:

1) Legos (hundreds of sets)
2) Transformers (hundreds of figures)
3) Blurays/DVDs (nine bookcases filled)
4) Books (to a lesser degree - only four or five bookcases)
5) CDs (two shelves double stacked, kept as originals/backup copies)

3-5 probably wouldn't be considered hoarding by people unless they're the sort of misguided soul who erroneously thinks that because you've "bought" a digital copy you own it and that stuff online will be available indefinitely.

The legos probably would look like hoarding because I have so many of them, and all those lego boxes take up a lot of space. Much of it is stacked in bookshelves or stowed in totes, But I do have one or two freestanding piles of stuff in corners which probably look hoarder-like. (I've been trying to stow those sets properly but some of them are too large to fit in the totes and storage boxes I have.)

The transformers take up a lot less space than the legos but are actually closer to being hoarder-like because I actually would be willing to get rid of some of them if push came to shove - though sorting out the wheat from the chaff would take some work. And I'm not fond of work, so yeah.

ETA: And also, regarding throwing away stuff like textbooks and transformers, it's always felt a little wrong to me to throw away a perfectly good book or toy. They're not garbage, they're just unwanted, so the garbage feels like the wrong place for them.

Last edited by begbert2; 01-22-2020 at 01:13 PM.
  #53  
Old 01-22-2020, 01:38 PM
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Begbert:
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like my old textbooks from college that I'll never look at again
I've actually used some of those after 40 years. Physics, engineering, math and chemistry change slowly, and memory seems to rot.
All the soft stuff is long gone, except "Cold Mountain" by "Han Shan". I burned all my Robert Frost. He annoyed me.

Last edited by Squink; 01-22-2020 at 01:39 PM.
  #54  
Old 01-22-2020, 01:41 PM
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Begbert:
I've actually used some of those after 40 years. Physics, engineering, math and chemistry change slowly, and memory seems to rot.
All the soft stuff is long gone, except "Cold Mountain" by "Han Shan". I burned all my Robert Frost. He annoyed me.
Sure, some people revisit their textbooks. I have a friend that does. Myself, I'd be more likely to revisit Frost after you burned him.
  #55  
Old 01-22-2020, 02:13 PM
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I have a friend who is a Christmas-themed hoarder. He lived with his mother until her death last year, and I worry that his tendencies will get really bad now.

There is also a couple down the street from me whose house is packed inside. They have a ladder up to an upstairs window for the cat to come and go. I have sometimes contemplated whether I have any responsibility to alert the authorities to their situation, as the county has an office dedicated to working with hoarders. So far I have told myself not to get involved, but if they were to have a fire....
  #56  
Old 01-22-2020, 02:55 PM
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Begbert:
I've actually used some of those after 40 years. Physics, engineering, math and chemistry change slowly, and memory seems to rot.
I kept most of the textbooks related to my field of study (mechanical engineering); they're at the office, and occasionally come in handy. OTOH, I quickly sold the textbooks related to most of the humanities/social science courses I was required to take as part of my major.

At home, I have a large, heavy box full of files from my undergrad and grad school courses. One file for each course, containing homework, class notes, and exams. The one time they came in handy was when studying for the Ph.D. qualifying exam: the files contained graded homework problems, meaning I could practice working those same problems and then refer back to my file to see if I did it right. Beyond that time I don't know why I kept them, other than it seemed a shame to just shit-can a collection that was representative of thousands of hours of labor. Also a bit of nostalgia I suppose, although I can't remember the last time I actually looked at any of these files. They've survived over a dozen moves now.
  #57  
Old 01-22-2020, 03:42 PM
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I know of a person (but don't know him personally) who apparently collects and hoards junk vehicles -- cars, vans, some buses, even a couple of totally junked old little airplanes.

Story is, he buys old junk vehicles at auctions, possibly with the fantasy that he will restore and sell them. He is said to have several large warehouses full of old junk vehicles. He is said to be an older retired professor who speaks English with a heavy accent. He has an unpronounceable Polish name.
That reminds me of Ron Hackenberger. Like the guy you described, he accumulated a bunch of old junk vehicles, from what I've read with the fantasy of building a museum to display them. But really he was just a guy who hoarded a bunch of old cars and left them to sit around and rot. After his death his heirs organized a huge auction to sell them all off. Apparently he had a thing for orphan brands -- he had loads of Studebakers, some AMCs, and even a DeLorean.
  #58  
Old 01-22-2020, 04:15 PM
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I kept most of the textbooks related to my field of study (mechanical engineering); they're at the office, and occasionally come in handy. OTOH, I quickly sold the textbooks related to most of the humanities/social science courses I was required to take as part of my major.
.
Dont some people keep old textbooks because, well it makes them look smart?

I mean you have the diploma on the wall but a bunch of textbooks... well they just might make you think you read them now and then.

Isnt that why doctors have all those medical books on shelves in their offices? You dont think they actually read those do you? I think they are to reaffirm their patients that this doctor is well read and knows what they are doing.
  #59  
Old 01-22-2020, 04:21 PM
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I don't know if my sister the MD re-reads her old textbooks but I read them - lots of stuff in there you don't usually find on the typical public library shelf. I dunno, maybe she saves them for when I visit and need a bit of light reading.
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Old 01-22-2020, 04:28 PM
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The Nature of the Chemical Bond is still a great read, as are some of Bohr's Physics texts. 50-60's physics and electronics books hold all the core experiments and data we still use elaborations of today.
-But then I read old patents for fun, profit, and design inspirations. They were some really clever people 50 to 100 years ago. If you want to build something at home, patents and old books are a great resource, especially for mechanical stuff.

Last edited by Squink; 01-22-2020 at 04:30 PM.
  #61  
Old 01-22-2020, 04:50 PM
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I don't know if it reached the level of "hoarding", but whenever I would visit my mom, I'd always be surprised at how jam-packed her refrigerator and freezer were. For someone who lived alone, that woman had a hell of a lot of food. But it was never to the point where she bought more food than she had room for. It was just... always a tight fit.
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  #62  
Old 01-22-2020, 04:57 PM
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The Nature of the Chemical Bond is still a great read, as are some of Bohr's Physics texts. 50-60's physics and electronics books hold all the core experiments and data we still use elaborations of today.
-But then I read old patents for fun, profit, and design inspirations. They were some really clever people 50 to 100 years ago. If you want to build something at home, patents and old books are a great resource, especially for mechanical stuff.
My husband still rereads his tattered Feinman Lectures from his undergraduate physics days, four decades later.
  #63  
Old 01-22-2020, 05:33 PM
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ETA: And also, regarding throwing away stuff like textbooks and transformers, it's always felt a little wrong to me to throw away a perfectly good book or toy. They're not garbage, they're just unwanted, so the garbage feels like the wrong place for them.
After a while, I had to admit that my textbooks were so outdated that they were garbage. I still took them to Half Price Books to trade and got a few dollars for a couple of them.

Getting rid of books was definitely the most heart-rending part of downsizing. I ultimately dumped about 2/3 of my collection. Some, I handed off to people that I knew would appreciate but most went to Half Price Books. They, in turn, give the books they don't want (and are still readable) to a charity shop that is known locally for books. So they didn't all get recycled. And, I got some (not much) cash money to spend on more books.
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Old 01-22-2020, 05:51 PM
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Oddly, no one wants Philip K Duck collections in their neighborhood library hutches. Old math books, yes.
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:00 PM
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Oddly, no one wants Philip K Duck collections in their neighborhood library hutches. Old math books, yes.
That's desthhhpicable!
  #66  
Old 01-22-2020, 06:12 PM
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Examples: Young people today are:
1. not into "collections" anymore.
2. they live in smaller homes and apartments
3. can have books, movies, music and such online or in digital form so no need to have all the books, vhs tapes, and albums lying around like we all had
4. dont have the 'fix it" attitude we older people had - they find things are mostly non-repairable and know they should just toss a broken item and buy a new one.
Regarding #3: Some people are e-hoarders, and collect data on multiple computers. That can also be a problem.

I had a friend who became a hoarder, probably as an offshoot of untreated major depression. Her life hadn't turned out the way she wanted it to, whatever that might mean, and this was how she reacted. I moved away for a job, and a couple years later, she became my ex-friend when I came back for another friend's wedding (they don't know each other) and she surmised when we met up that he was just marrying her to have access to her two daughters. It was one of those things where I knew at the wedding that the marriage wasn't going to last, and it didn't but this wasn't why.

A couple years earlier, she "lost" a cat and thought he had probably run away, until she found what was left of him in the basement a few months later. That place was a fire hazard, among other things.

I have since moved back to the city where she lives and we used to work together, and see her around sometimes, most commonly at estate sales. She's in her 70s now, and I was surprised she was able to retire because I knew she had little or no savings due to her "hobby." (I suspect that her retirement from the grocery store pharmacy was not voluntary - that she was fired due to poor hygiene, something she didn't have when I knew her, but her house was headed to a point where she couldn't have taken care of this.)
  #67  
Old 01-22-2020, 06:15 PM
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Its funny on your 2nd point. I watch "Antique Roadshow" on PBS and they have this sort of look back show where they will show an item with the appraisal say 10 years ago and then show its current value and most often its dropped in value, sometimes by half.

Its really an eye opener and tells me things that your holding on to because you think will rise in value and make you rich later - well its just not happening.
Can you say Beanie Babies?

Threadjack: A while back, someone donated a painting to the library I volunteer at that had its original price tag on it - $550, from the 1960s. Because we couldn't figure out its value, we sent it, along with a lot of other things, to an auction house we use, and the owner said he could tell just by looking at it (he was probably familiar with the artist) that it was no longer worth $550, even taking inflation into account. He ended up selling it for about $100, which was still 100% profit for us.

We occasionally get donations that were probably from hoarder houses. If it smells like urine and has black mold all over it, that's probably the case.
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:17 PM
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I have hoarder-ish tendencies, but I regularly donate to the Vietnam Vets now, so that's kept me on a regular cycle of purging and donating.

I have a ton of books, but I'm continually making the choice to get rid of some that I'd decided to keep before. If I read something I want to keep, it's now the "new one in only if an old one goes out rule." I also have an Amazon seller account and sell ones with any value. I probably have more clothes than I need since I'm retired. That's the next major weeding project for me.

There are a few things I specifically collect:
- bear-related items
- dachshund-related items
- Heintz Art Metal items
- vintage/antique typewriter ribbon tins
- Weller burntwood and claywood pots

I also have a lot of art. I just like having things around to look at. I do not have piles of "stuff" ... everything is arranged in an attractive manner...but I do have a lot of it. Minimalists would go crazy in my place. But, then, I'd go crazy in their places.

Having a regular pickup of discarded items really helps. That way, I'm always reevaluating what to let go. Keeps me on my toes.
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:24 PM
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Its funny on your 2nd point. I watch "Antique Roadshow" on PBS and they have this sort of look back show where they will show an item with the appraisal say 10 years ago and then show its current value and most often its dropped in value, sometimes by half.

Its really an eye opener and tells me things that your holding on to because you think will rise in value and make you rich later - well its just not happening.
I enjoy watching those "reappraisal" shows, too, but I'd say a good 50% of the time, the value has either held steady or gone up (sometimes dramatically so). I'm pretty good on guessing up, down, or no change. Yeah, something like Beanie Babies are an obvious one. I actually have a couple, but one was a gift because I collect dachshund-related things, and it was a dachshund Beanie Baby. I bought a bear one, because I collect bear items, and I bought a dragon one because I like how it looks displayed with my Harry Potter books. I certainly never had any ideas about them funding my retirement!
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:49 PM
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I don't know if it reached the level of "hoarding", but whenever I would visit my mom, I'd always be surprised at how jam-packed her refrigerator and freezer were. For someone who lived alone, that woman had a hell of a lot of food. But it was never to the point where she bought more food than she had room for. It was just... always a tight fit.
Similar thing with my mom - she has 2 refrigerators and a big chest freezer, all full. Plus 3 shelving units full of canned goods and pasta and such. I'm sure this is a carryover from the days when there were 7 of us at home and Mom would stock up when things were on sale. But now it's her and my youngest sister. And they eat out frequently. Old habits die hard, I guess.

On the other hand, if someone drops in unexpectedly, they'll be fed. And apart from the food, she's been giving stuff away for the last few years. I think she doesn't want to leave a lot of stuff for us to deal with when she dies. Or she's tired of dusting stuff...
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:49 PM
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I watched that, too! Has he sold the house yet? To be honest, after watching him dig through the piles of crap that the house had contained, I wouldn't want to live there myself. I was wondering if the documentation of the cleanup helped or hindered him in the selling of the house.

But if he hadn't dug through everything, he wouldn't have found the wallet containing all that money. $2,800 Canadian, wasn't it?
IIRC, they're renting the house to a nice family. Except for the fridge and a freezer, all of the stuff was non-organic. Lots of dust, and maybe bugs and mice, but nothing rotting. Well, except for the fridge and freezer and those were hauled away.

He was asked if he was worried that there might have been something in the freezer that was worth something. He said he'd considered the possibility, but it just wasn't worth it to touch them.
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Old 01-22-2020, 06:51 PM
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At least one aunt. She's got a garage and three sheds on her property and doesn't know how many storage units she has (or had, by now, probably). Two years after her husband died, she still had his mobility scooter in the carport. I asked her about selling or better donating it, and she teared up and said she "wasn't ready." When her kids and I were cleaning out crap and packing her stuff to move, she caught us putting stuff on the curb and started taking it back. Her daughter would take a carload "to the storage unit" and track down the nearest dumpster.

Her sister, who spent decades trying to reform Aunt 1, just hoards nicer stuff. For a while she and her husband turned an extra bedroom into a large, overstuffed clothes closet. Double racks all around and standing racks in the middle. She bought a B&B, the perfect excuse to hoard antiques. BTW, she abandoned but still owns it after fifteen years, and it's still stuffed with antiques.

My favorite Aunt 2 story was the time she hired a local, small-town teenager to help clean up. The girl was given the task of sorting a three-foot stack of periodicals, the catalogs from the magazines. She got mad that the girl couldn't tell which, for instance, J. Peterman is.
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Old 01-22-2020, 07:11 PM
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That's desthhhpicable!
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Last edited by Squink; 01-22-2020 at 07:14 PM.
  #74  
Old 01-23-2020, 10:01 PM
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After a while, I had to admit that my textbooks were so outdated that they were garbage. I still took them to Half Price Books to trade and got a few dollars for a couple of them...
I'm reading this thread and thinking of all the ways people don't need to save stuff. Thanks, gang, you may have saved my self-respect (or at least my marriage).

So I'm now inspired to purge! Take my old CDs/DVDs/books to Half Price Books, or to Goodwill. My textbooks, too; I'm sure if I have a Complex Systems 401 class question (and really need that 1975 perspective), I could find the same info online or from a library.
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Old 01-23-2020, 10:18 PM
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I have been accused of being a hoarder. But I try to reach a balance between saving stuff that might be useful in the future with stuff that was saved, but never used. 'Tis a puzzlement.
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Old 01-24-2020, 09:51 AM
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My grandpa can be pretty bad, but not anywhere near as bad as the show. The general living areas of their house and perfectly organized. It's the garages (they have a 3-car garage, plus a very large garage for a motorhome that hasn't been taken out in years and isn't licensed anymore) that are bad. My grandpa hates throwing stuff like newspapers and plastic bags out (and I mean way more than what most people will keep on hand). Not that I like to think about him passing at all, but he's in his 90's. It's going to be a lot to deal with someday, and my grandma will need the whole family's help.
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:23 PM
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Did you ever clean out a hoarder's house when they weren't there? If so, how did they react? Can this lead to a complete mental break down?
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:45 PM
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Eldest bro was pretty much a hoarder of computer hardware, when he operated a mail-order store out of his two-bedroom apartment. The only rooms where he didn't keep any inventory was the kitchen and bath.

Some of that inventory was junk; he'd dumpster-dive for salvageable components and eventually took all dead hardware to recycling companies.

Last edited by Skywatcher; 01-24-2020 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 01-24-2020, 12:50 PM
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Did you ever clean out a hoarder's house when they weren't there? If so, how did they react? Can this lead to a complete mental break down?
I've only done that in the case of a landlord doing a clean-out on a tenant's unit. As the tenants in question were deceased they did not, of course, react.

For live hoarders, though - yes, in some cases doing a clean-out without warning or permission can lead to a breakdown. It does depend on why the person is hoarding and what else might be going on.

For damn sure, if you do that you will forever lose the trust of the hoarder and probably any shred of goodwill. Hoarders tend to react VERY negatively to people taking their stuff. Indeed, most people tend to react negatively to someone taking their stuff without warning or permission, we even have a word for it: stealing.
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Old 01-24-2020, 01:02 PM
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My mom had hoarding tendencies. Once, she was in the hospital, and after I visited her I was hanging out at her house with my brother. Her counter was covered in old ketchup packets, napkins, and paper salt and pepper packets from McDonalds - all years old. Trying to help out, I cleared it all away and scrubbed the dirty counter.

She was MASSIVELY ticked off when she returned home. She had been saving all that stuff in case she needed it! I don't need to mention she had ketchup, salt and pepper in the cupboard already.
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Old 01-24-2020, 01:17 PM
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The house APPEARED clean and organized, so it wouldn't have made you think he was a hoarder. There would have been nothing worth putting on a TV Show. However, he had shit jammed in everywhere. Since it wasn't in any noticeable way affecting their lives - he didn't have shit piled up in the kitchen so you couldn't use it, like you see in the shows - he was not diagnosible as having a disorder, but I'm convinced he came up just 10% short. He was buying things and never using them - he had like five cordless drills, three of which had never been taken out of the box. He had electric bills from 1974. I don't think he'd thrown anything away in decades. We ended up having to hire professionals to clear it out.
My sister in law is like that, and apparently she's not the only one in her family. The house looks Home & Garden-ready, but open any closet, cupboard or the fridge and it's just scary. They had three storage rooms; she wanted to buy a fourth but my brother nixed it. When they inherited a house in a small village, one of the conditions he had to set in order to be able to fix it is that she couldn't be there whenever he was cleaning. He's kept and fixed old agricultural tools to use as decoration, as well as those pieces of furniture that were in decent shape, but there was Stuff there that had been piling up for generations.
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Old 01-24-2020, 01:38 PM
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On #2, with todays ability to store information on computers there is little need to keep receipts and such in file cabinets. Photographs, which we have boxes of, are stored online and not in photo albums
I don't think SiL got that memo; if she did, she would have printed it out. She and her relatives are a prime target for photo-printing companies. Every year, each of them makes multiple printed items (calendars, handbags, tees...); they print out every single picture they take and every single one which appears in their whatsapp feeds. SiL was upset that she couldn't print out videos.

I digitize any invoice I get on paper; SiL doesn't seem to believe that digital stuff is real.

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Old 01-24-2020, 01:48 PM
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. . . Others though, aren't really hoarding (this is my category), we are depressed and divesting ourselves of clothes that no longer fit or items we no longer use, or even old bills just becomes one of those "impossible" tasks that we can't seem to do well on our own. We find ways of avoiding the task of sorting and throwing out or giving stuff away. It involves decision-making and we avoid making the decisions.
. . .
This has described me at times. When I am grieving I have trouble dealing with day-to-day crap, sometimes for months. Without medical care my body will helpfully add migraines or cluster headaches to the mix, reducing me to a few hours per week of productivity. It builds up. And it's not the sort of thing that someone else can fix for you, you've got to pull your bootstraps up and sort through it all yourself. This is insanely frustrating to others, because the answers to what's good and what's junk seem obvious to them.

It all comes down to sentimental value. No one else can understand why I have a framed child's crayon thank you note on my bookshelf, but that little token in my peripheral vision has pulled me out of hell more times than I can count.

But for a hoarder, it's a combination of this plus, I think, an extreme version of FOMO (fear of missing out.) They really do want to read that magazine, that newspaper. Someday they might have Grandchildren doing a report on that time period and wouldn't it be cool to pull out that old National Geographic at just the right moment? And sometimes, if you hold on to crap for long enough, it becomes worth something, and wouldn't it suck to miss out on the sale that let you finally make those desperately needed home repairs? They are people who are passively waiting for this stuff to save them. And they believe their faith will be rewarded.

In the extreme cases they are also just living in poverty. Most times they are not misers, but are simply unable to afford to get that toilet working again, or even to pay for trash pickup or fees at the dump, or gas to get there. Or if they have the money, they are afraid that if they let a repairman in they'll be reported and kicked out of their home. They get so bottled up and neglected for so long that they are slowly reduced to an almost animal state. They are just surviving one day to the next, in whatever hellish circumstances that they can't get out of.

I find those shows too painful to watch. I always picture the people ten or fifteen years before, and wonder what would have happened if they'd had a friend they could trust to be discreet and not to judge them. Someone who would just help them cheerfully to get re-organized or to get that toilet fixed. In the end, it's only societal neglect that lets it get to that state.
  #84  
Old 01-24-2020, 04:51 PM
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The house APPEARED clean and organized, so it wouldn't have made you think he was a hoarder. There would have been nothing worth putting on a TV Show. However, he had shit jammed in everywhere. Since it wasn't in any noticeable way affecting their lives - he didn't have shit piled up in the kitchen so you couldn't use it, like you see in the shows - he was not diagnosible as having a disorder, but I'm convinced he came up just 10% short. He was buying things and never using them - he had like five cordless drills, three of which had never been taken out of the box.
It's sometimes a feature of aging that people start buying the same things over and over. I'm not sure it's exactly dementia (although it probably travels with it frequently) but it does seem to be a sort of cognitive issue with many elderly people. A friend's parents started buying certain items like tin foil and sandwich bags every time they went to the store, whether they needed them or not, as an example. When they passed away he divvied the stash up and four people each got a 1-2 year supply of the stuff - the boxes had been neatly stored, unopened, yet they kept buying a bunch more every week. Like they had a grocery list with those on it and they simply could not deviate from it.

At work I run into people with similar problems. One lady told me that if she goes shopping without mom sometimes she takes the particular items from mom's pantry, puts them in her car, drives to the store, buys what is needed, then brings the needed stuff and the hoarded stuff in together "Mom, I got everything!" and then puts everything away. In that particular case, mom is happy because she perceives the stuff a being newly purchased and doesn't seem to see any anomalies. Whether or not any other elderly person would be fooled by this is a crapshoot.

But that gets back to the "why" of the problem. Different hoarders hoard for different reasons. If the reason is connected to aging/damage/injury/dementia it may not be amenable to treatment. If it's connected to depression that calls for a different approach. Bad habits from childhood another. Also, of course, there are different degrees of this problem, and the TV shows only show the worst.
  #85  
Old 01-24-2020, 05:08 PM
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I don't think I'm a hoarder, but I probably look like one and might be one....[snip]...On the other hand I might actually be a hoarder because I'm a collector. Not a random crap collector - I have three (or four, or five) specific things that I collect:

1) Legos (hundreds of sets)
2) Transformers (hundreds of figures)
3) Blurays/DVDs (nine bookcases filled)
4) Books (to a lesser degree - only four or five bookcases)
5) CDs (two shelves double stacked, kept as originals/backup copies)
There is a difference between collecting and hoarding. If you're the sort of collector that for the most part actually stores your collection in some sort of protective manner, who sells/trades/buys, and in other words is not just buying and stashing and never looking at stuff again....

That is a collector, not a hoarder.

My late spouse was a collector. Because he stored it carefully the items retained their value and I have been able to sell it after he was gone. I have gotten several thousand dollars for it (and still counting, though most of it is gone now). It actually did have value that I could cash in.

So... if your collections are like that, good.

If stuff it just thrown in a corner or storage shed and deteriorate.... that's more hoarder-like.
  #86  
Old 01-25-2020, 12:12 PM
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A few years ago, our house was infested with vermin and we had to have an exterminator in. Couch, love seat, and overstuffed chair - all had to be taken away to the dump. Mattresses - sprayed, and zipped-tight covers put over them, and the box springs. I had been collecting clothes from the thrift stores for years (blouses, denim things, purses, cashmere sweaters) and we got rid of at least 10 trash bags full of them.

It was exhausting and expensive. There are only two of us. But once we got the ball rolling, we decided to bite the bullet and get rid of some of the thousands of books we had, all over. Some, old textbooks or old Stephen King hardcovers, we threw out the covers and put the paper in the recycling bin. We mercilessly went through dozens of covered storage boxes and got rid of old toys and baby clothes - I brought the good stuff to the thrift store. Old coats, a dozen. Called our daughter over to look through her old closet, full of books, toys, stuffed animals, and she kept a few things. She is never going to have children, no use saving it all. Husband threw out a lot of his old hobby stuff - beer making equipment, karate uniforms, dozens of dried up little paint bottles, magazines, catalogs, books books books! The library got so many books, good ones, lots of kids books. I got rid of a vast bin of sewing material, scraps, old thread, trims, half-finished sewing projects. Hundreds of VCR tapes, all the Disney tapes we were so eager to purchase.

I can go on and on. We have slacked off now, there is still much to be done, but it seems like a huge project to be continued, don't know where to start.

I have to say, getting rid of old photos, clothes, hobby equipment, baby clothes, toys....I was fighting back tears. Everything had meant something to us when we were younger and had a kid. It almost felt like WE had died, and we were ghosts, looking at all our 'stuff'.

I was just this winter over at a housewarming party for two middle-aged bachelors who furnished their new apartment with one solid wall of bookshelves from ceiling to floor . Filled with I don't know how many sets of old Encyclopedias. More than the library has! Someday, someone is going to have to back up a dumpster at their front door.....

Last edited by salinqmind; 01-25-2020 at 12:17 PM.
  #87  
Old 01-25-2020, 12:23 PM
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Yeah, that's actually something I noticed about my wife and her family.
1) My wife grew up kind of poor in a rural community. Not really destitute or anything. But she definitely adopts a lot more of a "save money wherever we can" mentality. Making sure we get every last drop out of the toothpaste tube. Saving food a bit longer than the FDA might recommend. Saving every fucking plastic or paper bag because we use bags for garbage and whatnot and not it costs $0.10 to but a grocery bag. Which strikes me as odd because we are a multi-six figure income household.
2) They seem to have terrible skills when it comes to spatial relationships, organization, or how things go together. In contrast, I was almost an architect and actually have a degree in structural engineering. So I look at their "piles" of clutter almost as a personal affront.
3) My wife's parents are constantly holding yard sales where they buy and sell junk from other people in the neighborhood buying and selling junk. There are stacks of magazines from years ago my wife won't throw away because "I haven't read them yet". Let me spoiler this one for you - Whitney Houston dies in a few years.

Lie one thing I would do is clean our apartment whenever my wife takes the kids to her parents. She would inevitably come home and get upset. "I can't find anything!!". So..what are you looking for? Bills are in the bills drawer. Books are in the book cases. Dirty clothes in the dirty clothes hamper. Kid's toys are in one of their 15 toy bins, with the exception of Legos which are on the kitchen table that our son has turned into a Legopolis.
I could have written this post, almost word for word (except for the yard sale thing), to describe my wife (see post 29 above).
  #88  
Old 01-25-2020, 12:28 PM
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I think the emotional effects of such clean outs are often dismissed or ignored, but they are very real.

Back to work for me today - a couple of contractor bags of garbage and some miscellaneous stuff that went directly into the dumpster, out of my late spouse's workspace, to free up space to move things around. The dumpster, by the way, is now about half full, starting from "empty" this morning. As pick up is not until Tuesday we may have to stash some garbage until after Tuesday morning and then fill the dumpster up again.

I find, for me, that I need to make one pass to get through the "low hanging fruit" - the obvious stuff. If I stop to sort through things that require thinking I'll get lost. So right now it's the "first pass". I've had to stop my friend who is like "is this thing working or not" and say I don't know, put it over in that corner for things to go over later. Right now, we're clearing the floor and the sort piles are "obvious garbage", "to be recycled", "e-waste", and "don't know - worry later". As I said, this frees up floor space and makes room, allowing for more productive workspace.

As I said, just dealing with the obvious and clearly garbage has taken up half a dumpster. Sure, everything else needs to be dealt with, but just the obvious garbage going out the door right now makes for progress. It's easy, it's quick. It's the part of the process we're focusing on right now. When that's done I'll move to the next thing on the list and keep going. This breaks it down into manageable bits for me.

Your mileage may vary. This is what works for me. If something else works for you then great.

We'll be staging the stuff for the recyclers and I'll have help loading up my pick up to take it away on Monday, when the recyclers are open. I may also be putting together a "donation" pile that will likewise be dealt with on Monday. There will be a "burn" pile - self explanatory.

The ceiling is leaking at the old building, so some stuff is getting ruined. Much anger and sadness over that.

We broke for lunch and some rest. Lunch was home-made soup and home-made bread. We'll probably head back for more work in an hour or two.

The old landlord is stopping by later. Spoke with him on the phone and already he's started up with "are you really going to get rid of that?", "I can fix that", "that's worth money"..... He's more of a hoarder than I am at this point, for sure. Let's just say there are issues.

My BFF's husband is due in tonight. Maybe we can get the bicycle hangar up then, and go back to the Old Place tomorrow. I'm hoping with three people and the husband to help with the heavier items we can make some substantial progress.
  #89  
Old 01-25-2020, 12:38 PM
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Did you ever clean out a hoarder's house when they weren't there? If so, how did they react? Can this lead to a complete mental break down?
I've thought about it. The house (well, apartment) is my own -- it's my wife that's the hoarder (see post 29 above).

I believe she would react with terrifying rage and demand a divorce. I'm not joking.

Recently she took the kids and went to visit her mother. I was tempted, I really was, to really clean the place out. Get rid of a ton of stuff, including some furniture (we have some furniture that was purchased to replace some worn-out items, but then she couldn't bring herself to get rid of the old piece, so now the place is jammed with furniture).

I was thinking I'd get my brother, who is aware of the situation (although my wife does not know, and can never know, that he's aware and has seen the place), to come over and help, and just get it done, but I think her reaction would be so insane as to destroy our marriage. I genuinely think she'd throw me out before admitting that there's a problem and dealing with it. Anyway, I did manage to throw out many large garbage bags of stuff. The place is so crowded she didn't notice.

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For damn sure, if you do that you will forever lose the trust of the hoarder and probably any shred of goodwill. Hoarders tend to react VERY negatively to people taking their stuff.
Yes.

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Originally Posted by teela brown View Post
Her counter was covered in old ketchup packets, napkins, and paper salt and pepper packets from McDonalds - all years old. Trying to help out, I cleared it all away and scrubbed the dirty counter.

She was MASSIVELY ticked off when she returned home. She had been saving all that stuff in case she needed it! I don't need to mention she had ketchup, salt and pepper in the cupboard already.
Have you been in my kitchen?

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Or if they have the money, they are afraid that if they let a repairman in they'll be reported and kicked out of their home.
Yes. Our washing machine leaks. I can't call a repairman. My wife is insistent that I fix it myself, but that's impossible -- I can't get it out of the laundry closet by myself, and I can't bring anyone in to help me.

This whole thread is terrifying. I really don't know what to do.

Last edited by Saintly Loser; 01-25-2020 at 12:39 PM.
  #90  
Old 01-25-2020, 12:48 PM
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Next time she visits her mother get a washer-repairman in. It won't solve everything, but it will solve one problem. When she comes back say "I got it fixed" and don't go into detail.
  #91  
Old 01-25-2020, 12:58 PM
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Did you ever clean out a hoarder's house when they weren't there? If so, how did they react? Can this lead to a complete mental break down?
I would LOVE that! I've always said it can be hard throwing out sentimental stuff (or stuff I MIGHT MAYYYYBE use some day). So I'd love to fill up two boxes of stuff I really need, put them in my car, take off for a week.... and have my kids* and their friends swoop in and empty the place.

It would be neat and clean and I bet I'd learn to cope with the few dozen times I really missed that book or record or Boba Fett PEZ Dispenser (just kidding, that'd be with me in my box of Necessities).

And if it turned out I really did need that Steve Jobs biography I'm never going to read, I could get it from the library.



*or if the kids are busy, a bunch of looters would do in a pinch...
  #92  
Old 01-25-2020, 04:11 PM
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Yes, a few.

My elderly neighbor up in Ohio. Nice guy. When he died I went through his place with his son. It was packed to the rafters with stuff. Old newspapers bundled up. Piles of receipts and other spare junk.
I once met someone like this. A few tall items of furniture, like standing lamps and bookcases, stuck out above the above-waist-high "sea level" of assorted junk and trash, except for narrow cleared "trails" that led through about the center of each room. Among other things, there was a 1960s console stereo system, of the kind they used to give away on game shows, completely buried under the rubbish. It had evidently never been used because the stereo demonstration LP was still on the turntable.
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  #93  
Old 01-25-2020, 05:58 PM
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Did you ever clean out a hoarder's house when they weren't there? If so, how did they react? Can this lead to a complete mental break down?
I don't know about complete mental breakdown, but the very few times I tried to neaten up my parents' home ("neaten up" = throw shit away) their reaction was anger at my violation of their space. They didn't have fits or anything but it was made quite clear that my efforts were NOT appreciated, thank you very much.
  #94  
Old 01-26-2020, 09:18 PM
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One of my best friends was a "clean" hoarder. When she died almost a year ago, she named me in her will as the executor of her estate and sole heir.

She lived alone. Her six-room apartment was almost completely filled up. We had to push aside a pile of packages just to get in the door. There was a path through the kitchen to the stairs. It was impossible to get to the other rooms on the first floor. Upstairs there was a path to the room where she had her computer (not operating) and another to her bedroom with a path to her (broken) bed and another to the bathroom. Other than the mold-encrusted bath/shower, and a generous covering of dust, the place was clean. She did not have a pet. There was no decaying food or biological garbage.

She also had three storage units. One we didn't know about in time to salvage the contents before the facility repossessed it and auctioned off the contents. The other two were literally -- this is not an exaggeration -- packed wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with stuff. In addition, she had inherited her father's residence in a retirement community out of state. That residence was about half full.

Most of what was in her homes and storage units was mail-order goods, primarily clothes, and the majority of that wasn't even opened. There were probably hundreds of large plastic bags filled with a mixture of used clothing and various papers. We had to search through each and every bag since some of them contained important documents.

It was very sad looking through everything. She apparently would just order clothing, or jewelry, or household items that she found attractive, but in most cases did not bother to open the packages when they arrived. Some of what was there seemed to have been intended as gifts that were never given. Most of what she had I gave away either to people I knew, or to various charities.

What she left was not cheap stuff, either; mostly it was high-quality and some of it quite expensive. I was left just hoping that she derived some pleasure from the accumulation of these possessions.
  #95  
Old 01-27-2020, 08:48 AM
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My MIL was boarder line. My husband filled two 18 yard dumpsterS before and after she passed. Dead mummified squirrels in the attic. Empty cottage cheese containers in chest of drawers, a clump of rusty silverware under the sink, a trunk full of used envelopes etc.
  #96  
Old 01-27-2020, 09:53 AM
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My wife's father is one. A dozen dead cars, a few motorcycles, and tractor because something could supposedly be salvaged or restored someday. A garage impossible to walk through packed with old tools and construction scrap slowly rusting together into a single iron oxide mass. There is a mobile home that they used to live in that is now packed full and moldy and rotting, too dangerous really to even explore what's inside.

When he passes, it's going to be best as a bulldoze it all and sell the land to developers situation.
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  #97  
Old 01-27-2020, 10:20 AM
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I would like to put up a defense of hoarders, or at least inadvertent ones.

I saw this trend in my mom, and now in me. You see something of interest -- a book, an object, whatever -- and you put it aside for the future. You have used this item before; your interest is substantial; the time necessary just isn't there, but you expect it will be. Maybe when you are on vacation; maybe when you retire.

But time catches up to you. Your physical and mental facilities decline, subtly and imperceptibly. It's hard to realize your ambitions may never be fulfilled. Your retirement with all its promise of copious free time never materializes. There may come a day when you are no longer able to handle such demanding tasks that were once easy. But the important stuff is still there; in boxes, in the basement, attic, or garage.

And then you die, leaving behind all these hopes, dreams, and stuff you saved that is now worthless to anyone else. Was it hoarding or just unrealized ambition?

It's a fact. Of life. Of death.
  #98  
Old 01-27-2020, 01:41 PM
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Handy hint: whenever I see something I'd like to buy, I snap a picture of it. Then, at the end of the day (or week) I scroll through my pics and see if I still want/need it.

The answer's almost always no. Then I delete the photo (if it's mayyybe... then I keep it and review again in a few days).

Last edited by digs; 01-27-2020 at 01:46 PM.
  #99  
Old 01-27-2020, 02:03 PM
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I would like to put up a defense of hoarders, or at least inadvertent ones.

I saw this trend in my mom, and now in me. You see something of interest -- a book, an object, whatever -- and you put it aside for the future. You have used this item before; your interest is substantial; the time necessary just isn't there, but you expect it will be. Maybe when you are on vacation; maybe when you retire.

But time catches up to you. Your physical and mental facilities decline, subtly and imperceptibly. It's hard to realize your ambitions may never be fulfilled. Your retirement with all its promise of copious free time never materializes. There may come a day when you are no longer able to handle such demanding tasks that were once easy. But the important stuff is still there; in boxes, in the basement, attic, or garage.

And then you die, leaving behind all these hopes, dreams, and stuff you saved that is now worthless to anyone else. Was it hoarding or just unrealized ambition?

It's a fact. Of life. Of death.
Wow, that really hits hard.

I see that alot in hobbies like woodworking where people will buy tools because they KNOW they will be putting together a woodworking shop someday or they buy a boat or an RV because they KNOW they will have all this free time someday BUT the thing just sits there and is never used.

Hoarding or unrealized ambition? Hard to say.
  #100  
Old 01-27-2020, 02:14 PM
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Dont some people keep old textbooks because, well it makes them look smart?
This is me. My degree is in Aerospace Engineering and part of it is that basic engineering fundamentals haven't changed so they are still occasionally useful, but I'll admit that really it's because I think books with titles like "Airplane Performance, Stability and Control" or "Theory of Wing Sections" look cool sitting on the shelf.

Anyway, my grandmother had hoarding tendencies, but the hoarding was confined to the basement. While the rest of her house was perfectly normal and uncluttered, the basement was packed full and had narrow pathways everywhere for getting around. When she moved to a nursing home, they ended up hauling multiple dumpster loads out of there.
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