Do you ever watch the show Hoarders?

It is people who I feel are on the other side of extreme minimalism.

They keep everything from empty bottles of shampoo to plastic bags. It is really nothing I’ve ever experienced before, although I have some experience with it with my parents.

An example of a Hoarder’s home

My parents are mild hoarders

They like to keep anything they think might be useful.

My father is a bit lazy, so he’ll keep empty tissue boxes and use them as containers.

My mom will keep 25 pairs of old, ripped up running shoes from our track days, because someone might wear them someday.

I know what the reason is behind all of their hoarding — they grew up during the post-Depression as poor Baby Boomers were even a piece of dirty string was handy to have around to use when their shoelaces broke.

NOTE: I’ve noticed (read: other people have pointed out) that I keep writing that my parents grew up in the Depression in my earlier and newer posts

(I have posts scheduled until 2013, so I can’t correct the mistakes until the posts go live or else I’d be putting myself through post-checking hell).

For the record my parents are Baby Boomers who grew up in post-Depression but their multitude of siblings are much older than them (they were born in the actual tail end years of the Depression) which is why I kind of mistakenly lumped them all together as “Depression kids” which I am sure if my mother knew, she’d be thoroughly insulted to be portrayed as “that old“.

Also, my parents grew up very poor, and to my ears, that sounds depressing…hence the use of “Depression’ which is clearly not the correct term taking history into account.

Forgive my utter stupidity, please!

It can be very difficult to talk to a hoarder, because they have a psychological addiction to stuff, and it is really painful for them to let anything go, even an empty shampoo bottle.

It sounds so “weird” to us, but to them, it is something they know they have a problem with but they have another set of rationality and values by which they operate on.

Some tips in dealing with a Hoarder

  • Keep in mind that they’re addicted to stuff.
  • Be sensitive that getting rid of stuff is very hard for them to cope with.
  • Don’t attack them and make them go on the defensive.
  • Try and help them see that this clutter is weighing on their shoulders and their lives.
  • Take it step by step, one section of a room at a time.
  • Try and get them to understand why they are keeping each item: sentimental? “useful”? just in case?
  • Set up boxes to put stuff in, do a first pass and don’t dig back into the box.
  • Take pictures of items you’re keeping only for the memories.

Or do it like I did and just start chucking stuff. This is not recommended if they’re psychologically fragile or present in the home when they see you haul stuff away.

For me, watching those shows makes me want to get rid of something, or to re-evaluate what I own all over again.

Know any hoarders? 🙂

About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.