Question: “My recentley deceased father was a hoarder. I am looking for a reputable house clearance service to clear his cluttered house. I wanted to ask what distinguishes true hoarding tendencies from tendencies toward laziness? Would it be realistic to think that someone could suffer from both?”
Answer: Although a principle feature of hoarding is the failure to discard or get rid of possessions, it is not the same thing as simply being too lazy to do so. For people who hoard, difficulty discarding possessions is associated with beliefs about and attachments to objects. Those beliefs and attachments have to do with the objects’ potential usefulness, importance, or emotional significance. People with hoarding problems can’t tolerate the prospect of losing important information or losing something that is emotionally meaningful. Attempts to do so produce distress and indecision. Saving things reduces or avoids altogether these unpleasant experiences. Continued near the bottom of this page.
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Laziness, on the other hand, implies a lack of motivation. People who can easily discard unneeded items sometimes have a hard time seeing how difficult it is for people who do to get rid of or organize things. When they see a room filled with things they could easily discard, they imagine the problem is one of motivation (i.e., laziness) rather than attachment. For instance, the first thought of someone without a hoarding problem upon seeing a room filled with stuff is often “in just a few hours, I could make a significant dent in the clutter in this room”. Since there is little recognition of how difficult this would be for someone with a hoarding problem, laziness is an easy explanation.
There are a couple of circumstances in which motivation to get rid of things is low, and can look like laziness. For instance, sometimes people with hoarding problems know they want to get rid of things, but before they can, they must extract anything of importance from them. Often this material is trash or clearly useless objects. This form of hoarding involves an obsession over being certain that nothing is being lost. To create that sense of certainty, the object must be thoroughly checked. However, the effort this requires is so great and the process so time-consuming, that the amount discarded in this way could never keep up with the material flowing into the home. In these circumstances, people with hoarding problems sometimes give up and no longer try. This can look like simply laziness. In addition, people with hoarding problems often suffer from depression as well. Motivation to do anything is severely compromised when someone is depressed. Neither of these circumstances reflect simple laziness, however. It may be possible for someone to have hoarding tendencies and be lazy as well, but the two are not synonymous.