Compulsive Hoarding

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Compulsive Hoarding

Caroline “Carrie” Thompson


Summer 2013

Instructor Donna Higgins


If you are familiar with Degrassi, you would know of Eli Goldsworthy. Eli kept a load of items in his bedroom and his locker, shortly after his ex-girlfriend’s death. However, if not and you watch reality television shows, you might be aware of A&E’s Hoarders. Not to mention, TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive. Individuals on the program have similar problems Eli had with collecting belongings to the extreme.

This problem is clinically called compulsive hoarding. Compulsive hoarding is when a person saves and is incapable of removing or limiting the large amount of items, resulting in clutter. Usually it happens in homes.

Compulsive hoarding is not only brought up on TV. Behind closed doors, others had struggled with compulsive hoarding, in real life. During my trip to New York City, years ago, I spoke to a New Yorker when they mentioned two brothers who lived in their now torn out house. The names were Langley and Homer Collyer. They were both of old age. Homer was blind and depended on his brother Langley to give him food and water. At the time, it was an understatement to say their house was messy. When neighbors called the police, believing the residents had died, the cops couldn’t walk through the front door. They have to remove the door only to discover a wall of boxes, preventing an entrance. The police had to get in through the second floor. It was clear that the place was not livable. There were boxes slacked up and the house were infested with bugs and rodents. As for the brothers, Homer was almost immediately found dead. He died hours before the search, from starvation and dehydration. His brother, Langley, passed on as well after being trapped in his own boxes.

What made the brothers let their house to be less than a home? It beats me. Clearly, there was a distortion, but it would take decades later for the compulsive hoarding to be...