Question: Hi. My roommate, who has been a friend of mine for several years, is exhibiting signs of being a hoarder (piles of newspapers, saving all mail, not being able to sleep in her bed because of having too much random stuff on it). I actually had to move out because it got so bad. Her family isn’t on the other side of the country, and her boyfriend doesn’t mind her mess, as long as she keeps it at her apartment. She is in complete denial about the problem. Is there any way for me to help her?
Answer 1: Motivation is the key, and it’s hard to motivate another person. I assume you’ve been honest with her about why you moved out. Continue to be honest with her, but don’t make demands, and don’t expect her to make any changes. Good luck. Continued near the bottom of this page.
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Answer 2: You might try finding some of the Web sites about compulsive hoarding to print out some information you can show her. It is true that denying the problem is very common. Some professional organizers provide treatment if the problem is not too severe and if you can convince her of the need to get her stuff organized so she can find things.
Answer 3: It is not clear there is a lot you can do to help this individual. One of the problems in working with OCD and related problems is that the person with OCD needs to put a lot of effort into the process. The most common reason for therapy to fail is probably because people refuse to do the work. They may be primarily motivated by fear and the desire to reduce or avoid it. The hoarding form of OCD is often difficult to treat in part because it is effective as a compulsion in avoiding anxiety and the person with OCD leaving minimal reason to try to change.
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