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Having Trouble With Clutter

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My husband and I are trying to de-clutter our home. I have recently realized that, while I have no problem throwing out many items which are broken or no longer usable, I have a terrible time letting go of certain kinds of papers: letters, personal calendars, medical eob’s, tax returns (dating from 1971), work-related documents and time sheets. I am a musical instrument builder. At work, I have amassed hundreds of pages which no one except myself would ever think to look for, specifically, test slips which show test results for each individual instrument I have built. These slips bear technical information and an evaluation by the tester. The instruments are long gone, out in the world somewhere. I know I should get rid of them, but I just can’t bring myself to do it–why? My office and my home are filling up with things I no longer need but I can’t deal with them. What can I do about this?

Having Trouble With Clutter

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You may be dealing with the early signs of hoarding. Hoarding is a specific type of OCD. Hoarding and OCD are broadly classified as anxiety disorders. Hoarders are sometimes referred to as “pack rats.” This is because they tend to amass items that to the outside world seem excessive and are of little or no value. One of the most common signs of hoarding is difficulty parting with items.

What is very positive about this situation is that you recognize the potential problem. This is a very good sign because it means that you can begin addressing the problem. Sometimes hoarders do not receive help until the problem has grown to epic proportions. Some individuals who struggle with hoarding have amassed so many items that the county or local municipality threatens to condemn the home. Some individuals are forced out of their home.

There are two ways to deal with the situation. I would recommend counseling and consulting a professional organizer. Both you and your husband should participate in counseling and working with a professional organizer. It will be more effective if you and he work together as a team to solve this problem. Click on the find help tab to help locate a therapist in your community. I would recommend searching for therapist who specializes in hoarding.

The Arts and Entertainment channel (A&E) produces a television show about hoarding. You may find the program to be educational. On their website, they have a great list of resources for helping individuals with a potential hoarding problem locate mental health specialists and professional organizers. Hoarding has the potential to be a progressive disorder in that without treatment it may become worse. This is why it is important to seek help sooner rather than later. I hope you’re able to find the help that you need. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Having Trouble With Clutter

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Having Trouble With Clutter. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 24, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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