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A client with hoarding compulsions cluttered room that is mitigated with America's Most Organized's specialization in remediation services for clients who need assistance with recovering valuable items during the clean-up process.

Organized Thoughts: America’s Most Organized Blog

  • Writer's pictureMelissa Hladek

Hoarding and Hoarder: Clean These Words From the Conversation

America’s Most Organized seeks to educate society about hoarding. We are introducing a new term to the conversation: clinical clutter. Clinicians adopted the word “hoarding” to describe accumulating masses of items; the word connotes compulsivity related to gathering and saving items. Individuals who hoarded were referred to as hoarders. These terms once served a functional and clinical purpose, but through the years, they evolved into an unfair stereotype or label. 


Words paint pictures in the mind; language evokes a power that influences perception and emotion and transforms our interpretation of an idea or an individual. Hoarding and hoarder are words to clean from daily conversation. The harm lies in the image these words project. Hoarding has become synonymous with sloth or gluttony, with overconsumption and laziness. However, this clutter says nothing about the individual or situation.



Hoarding disorder involves the compulsive need to collect items, resulting in dangerous and unhealthy environments.


What is Clinical Clutter Disorder?

Clinical clutter refers to the act of amassing items so that the amount of clutter disrupts the individual’s daily life or health. For example, collections could hide important time-sensitive documents, clothing, and necessary areas of the home, windows, or doors, posing a safety risk.


Like hoarding disorder, clinical clutter is associated with a spectrum of severity. While level 1 denotes little to no issues for the individual related to the impact on daily life. Level 5 is associated with a severe need to amass items, which might have little to no importance or intrinsic value; those who suffer from Level 5 clinical clutter disorder might have piles of items that block hallways and rooms. In addition, level 5 could also correlate to health issues related to the amount of clutter; rodent or bug infestations could manifest among the piles.


Many individuals suffer from mild or less severe forms of the disorder; however, the compulsion to collect still results in issues with health or everyday life. There are various symptoms between the least and most severe forms of the disorder (i.e., levels 2 through 4).


There are Psychological Reasons for Clutter

Many professionals still refer to the compulsion as hoarding, but the connotation of this term has resulted in a stigma of the disorder. Calling an individual a hoarder is a negative term that evokes an unfair stereotype.


Those with clinical clutter disorder suffer from a condition that compels them to save and collect “important” items. Although most items might not hold any true monetary value, the individual perceives them as necessary to save. 


When the compulsion of the disorder impacts daily life and the health and safety of the individual or the individual’s dwelling, intervention might be necessary. Helping someone with clinical clutter disorder requires compassion, understanding, and an approach that allows the individual to reevaluate and assess the items in a positive manner.


There are numerous reasons why and how someone could begin compulsively saving and collecting items. Some might save items as a way to deal with grief or anxiety. Others could save compulsively because they fear that the items will be necessary in the future. Some inherit the disorder. 


The disorder also manifests in each individual differently. Items that are deemed important are unique to the individual. The term ‘clinical clutter’ best describes the nature of the disorder because it is a true clinical diagnosis.



Remediating a hoarding situation creates organization and a more serene environment.


How to Organize Clutter: Every Possession Has a Place 

The team at America’s Most Organized handles each clinical clutter case with compassion and addresses the unique needs of each individual. Organizing for someone who suffers from clinical clutter disorder never involves simply cleaning the home or space.


Instead, the team partners with the individual and their family/legal counsel to manage every step of the remediation process. Items are sorted into piles, for example, keep, donate, sell, or discard.  America’s Most Organized has worked with families to recover valuable jewelry, important documents, and life possessions.


Clean Up the Conversation about Hoarding

For those with a friend or loved one who suffers from a compulsion that drives them to save an abundance of items, understand that the need to keep these items could be tied to clinical clutter disorder.Understand that clinical clutter disorder has many causes and manifests in different ways; reach out to our team to schedule a consultation and find resources about clinical clutter disorder.


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