Thursday, August 10, 2006


Last night, MSNBC was running a show on people who hoard. I've been assured that I am as yet nowhere near being a capital-H Hoarder, a pathological label for behavior that is thought to be a manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder. (The program also mentioned research about a genetic propensity, as well as the presence of a certain strep-related antibody which may affect part of the brain which is involved in OCD--all interesting stuff...)

However whenever I encounter such stories, it's sort of like a Scrooge/Ghost encounter. I feel I'm being shown what might have become of me but for the grace of God/dess and my husband....or what I could yet become. I always find things that resonate.

The program last night emphasized some of the therapeutic work hoarders can do. One of the things is to gain an understanding of why the OCD manifests itself in compulsive collecting, amassing of Stuff.

There is the insecurity of feeling as though each thing is a thing you might need someday.
There is the exhaustion of having to think very hard about that, analyzing the possible future use of each piece of paper, old bolt, broken clock. That is so overwhelming that people allow the things to accumulate, waiting for the day when they will feel up to the task of thinking, sorting, discarding.

And then there is the perfectionism. This is what many people find difficult to believe-that these people who live in the extreme conditions that can result from hoarding are perfectionists. Perfectionism is overwhelming and inertia-creating. Because you can't do the task perfectly, or because you are so afraid of doing it never gets done.

These aren't new thoughts, and perhaps I even wrote about them before. But seeing the program has gotten me thinking about these things again. And I think it is really important to spend some time in understanding the "why" - for those of us suffering from Clutter, Disorganization and Too Much Stuff.

I think the key word is "suffering" - there is a certain amount of clutter that is part of my creative process, and it is a clutter that is inspiring and moves me forward in my artistic endeavors. Then there is the clutter that overwhelms, that absolutely impedes my work, and stands in the way of happiness and growth. That's gotta go!

Right now, I'm going to focus on the perfectionism. My goal right now is to identify when that is operating in my psyche and move through it to get some things done, however imperfectly.