Individuals may hoard things for several reasons.
Some people have trouble passing up a bargain, and even though they may already have several meat thermometers, for example, seeing one on sale for only 99 cents becomes too much of a temptation to pass up.
Another example would be someone driving by a house on garbage day and picking up an old lawn mower sitting by the curb. She may think she could fix it or take it to a scrap metal recycler. Hoarders who like the idea of fixing machines would find it almost impossible to not pick up the mower, even though they may already have seven mowers that need fixing at their home already.
Or perhaps hoarders may be unable to get rid of things because of sentimental value, fearing that throwing out an item would lead to the loss of all of the memories associated with that item (such as forgetting about a baseball game you attended if you were to discard a souvenir mug from the game, even though it is cracked, and even though you have twelve other identical mugs from the other games that you went to that season).
Hoarding can become a danger to people for several reasons. A person’s house may be so cluttered that it is easy to trip over things and fall. Further, the cluttered items can be a fire hazard. Or all of the items may be so tightly packed that they may actually block off essential parts of a home, such as access to a furnace or circuit breaker.
People hoard all of these items because the fear of discarding them is greater than their fear of the danger the items actually create.
Unfortunately, hoarders may even choose their possessions over their own hygiene or over family members (some family members choose to move out of the home rather than live with all of the items cluttering the home).
However, there is hope for treating hoarders, and several new assessment tools and therapies are being researched to assist hoarders and their families. The OCF website (www.ocfoundation.org) also has an excellent section on hoarding.