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How can I help someone with that clutter disease?

I have friend I think she is a little crazy. Her house is a disater
Her apartment is really small she has 3 kids 6 ,7,12. and 2 dogs and a cat! She has no rug on her floor and no kitchen tabale or dressers for her kids clothes. She doesn't throw anything away. Her husband is useless. He is never home and when he is doesn't do a thing. I offer to help and she says she doesn't need any. What can I do?

Thu. Aug 9, 11:17pm

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Maybe this will help

I think often times people are like that because they are unhappy with the way things are and tell themselves someday soon things will be different, better. The clutter is only temporary in their minds. They don't throw things out because they believe that when things get better and they have more time they will enjoy those things. They are little reminders of a time in the future when life will be the way they planned it. To throw them out is to give up on that future, and to give up on hope. If they give up on that hope they will have nothing to live for.
I think the key to helping her is to help her develop a realistic plan to change her life into the life she desires. If she truly believes she can move closer to her dreams and has a realistic plan to reach her goals, she may eventually let go of the clutter.

Friday, August 10, 2007, 4:42 AM

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$:42 AM Thanks fror the great insight ! She is just so hard to talk to. OP

Friday, August 10, 2007, 7:43 AM

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I think you should drop the subject until SHE asks for your help or advice. You've already offered help and she turned you down.

Friday, August 10, 2007, 8:13 AM

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But she has children living like this! She is a good mother and they love her. The kids would be very upset if they were taken away from her. They do love those animals. It is just that the house is so small and they have no money

Friday, August 10, 2007, 8:29 AM

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Child Protective Services doesn't just swoop in and snatch your children because you are a packrat who doesn't organize well. You yourself claim she is a great mother so why are you so hung up on her housekeeping? As the anally neat child of a semi-reformed packrat - let me tell you there are more important things in life.

You are concerned, you offered, she said 'no'. Why doesn't 'no' mean 'no' to you?

Friday, August 10, 2007, 9:52 AM

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I think your desperate "need" to help your friend is probably turning her off and that's why she won't accept your help. Make sure you are not making her feel cornered or forced into the way YOU think her life should.

Change can't be forced on most people. They have to come to it themselves. Let her be until she comes to you.

Friday, August 10, 2007, 10:45 AM

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why not buy her a dresser from goodwill and present it to her as a gift? tell her you thought she might get some use out of it, but if she doesn't want it, you can find a home for it. don't even mention her need for a dresser, just make a simple, casual offer. you can also inquire with the department of human services or the department of family affairs and see if you can find more suitable housing for her and her family. another point, if she has very little money, having pets that require regular shots and flea medications may not be the best way to spend her money. not to mention the cost of pet food. i would hate to think that the health needs of the pets (re: rabies and distemper shots, heartworm pills, flea powder) were being ignored, as this poses a threat to the children. if you can find a loving home for the animals, even a place where the kids could still visit them, it might be better for everyone.

Friday, August 10, 2007, 10:55 AM

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If she truly has hoarders syndrome . . .she's probably doesn't even think there is anything wrong with the way she collects things and lives. My boyfriend's mother has this condition (he was raised in it-he's the opposite! he's incredibly neat) and despite years of therapy (she has other issues as well), nothing has changed. Her house is completely not safe to live in, yet she won't go anywhere, and refused to let us help her get her life together.

I agree w/ the poster who talked about it having something to do w/ her hopes and dreams. My bf's mother often talks about "losing memories" if something gets lost or thrown out. She thinks that she needs to hold on to things or it's like those years never happened. She still has every toy her two children ever had, but they're in a room that is full of mold due to a leaking roof. She also has a sister that has the exact same problem.

I wish I had some real advice to offer you-it is a sad thing to see someone like this. I guess if I were you, I would talk to her family, see what they think and know about it, and maybe together you can get her some help. Good luck!!

Friday, August 10, 2007, 11:08 AM

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i think this "condition"also comes from a loos or a lck of a sense of self. for someone who has an essebtially non-existent marriage and has 2 kids, 2 dogs and a cat (and a husband) and a household to take care of, it's no surprise that a person could lose their sense of self. so she keeps/collects things that remind her of who she wants to be, who she has been, or who she wants others to see when they think of her. this was my situation. i knew who i wanted to be (or though i did) and kept things around that reminded me of that type of person. i kept note, letters, used napkins even of an ex-boyfrined so i could look at those things and remember how it felt to be loved by him. it was like i had to create memories of myself because i had no sense of myself anymore. maybe you could suggest that the 2 of you pitch in and do a big cleanup of both of your living spaces, together? or help her to express herself in order to find herself again through activities that are condusive to her living situation. buy some cheap photo albums to store pictures, get a scrap book for loose papers, that kind of thing. something that can allow her to focus on what's in her home and find a safe place within her home to store those things.

Friday, August 10, 2007, 11:32 AM

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that should begin with, "...a loss or lack of a sense of self."

Friday, August 10, 2007, 11:33 AM

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You are absolutely right. Having lived with a father who exhibits all of the signs of this "pack-rat" syndrome, I can vouch that this is absilutely the best explanation.

When we moved to America, he bagan this insane behavior, I guess hoping for things to get better for us. They never got better for him, and he still hangs on to everything he can. He collects 20 toothpicks when you should take 1, 20 business cards when only 1 is needed, 10 bruchures, tons of free napkins and condiments, never throws anything away. He collects pretty leaves in the part, nice pieces of bark and branches, for a future "art project" that never happens. Old pieces of string, old nails, screw, and other things in case something need to be fixed. Old teabags, old gum, old newspapers, old ID tags, and old letters. The problem is that nothing is organized, it is just everywhere. But he has these symptoms that also go hand in hand with intermittent alcoholism and depression. Whenever anyone tries to bring up cleaning, he becomes defensive and unreasonable, like it is not even an option to get rid of the things. When ever I talk to him, he tells me he is "cleaning", although whenever I see his house now, it get worse and worse every time.

This is really a very sad state of mind, and no nurturing or convincing can help. To him, he needs al of these things for the future, when things will improve and he can finally put them to use. Perhaps the subconcious idea that America is only temporary, that one day he will return home, is another factor. Therapy, medication, and other more thorough and dramatic approaches may be the only way. Unfortunately, he can't afford any of these things.

Friday, August 10, 2007, 11:59 AM

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If you can get her to visit, she will recognize herself there.


Friday, August 10, 2007, 2:46 PM

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i hate that site. it's def not for regular working people who have other things to do.

Friday, August 10, 2007, 3:19 PM

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I learned from an OCD support group (my daughter has OCD) that hoarding is one of many different OCD manifestations (but not my daughter's particular problem.) Unfortunately, it is one of THE MOST difficult compulsions to break. There was a family at the the support group that we went to where the wife was such a hoarder that you couldn't walk into any of the bedrooms because of all the 'stuff'. They all slept in the living room because it was the only room they could get in and out of. Your friend desparately needs the help of a therapist specializing in the treatment of OCD. I doubt if there is anything you can do to help her.

Friday, August 10, 2007, 5:53 PM

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4:42 again

I agree with 5:53. I should have added how deeply ingrained in the mind this thing is and that professional help would go a lot farther toward helping her. But I also know that it would probably be very difficult to convince her that anything is wrong or that she needs help...kind of like addictions.

Saturday, August 11, 2007, 4:13 AM

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Saturday, August 11, 2007, 10:29 AM

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Thanks for everones input. At this piont I am going to give up or let go or whichever you want to call it!

Sunday, August 12, 2007, 6:30 AM

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so we responded with all of these ideas and you're not going to use any of them? were you even going to try or what?

Monday, August 13, 2007, 7:57 AM

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Lokk I fried and she told me to get lost!

Monday, August 13, 2007, 11:47 PM

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