The issue has been broached that perhaps my prepping habit is merely a semi-acceptable disguise for a pathological hoarding compulsion. An interesting theory! Let's take a look at it.

The dictionary definition of a hoarder is: "A person who accumulates things and hides them away for future use."

Under that definition, I am absolutely a hoarder, as I do accumulate food and supplies, and I definitely hide them away, and I totally expect that there will be a future use for those items one day.

But now let's take a look at the definition and symptoms of pathological hoarding:

Definition: Pathological or compulsive hoarding is a specific type of behavior characterized by:

  • acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items that would appear to have little or no value to others (e.g., papers, notes, flyers, newspapers, clothes)
  • severe cluttering of the person's home so that it is no longer able to function as a viable living space
  • significant distress or impairment of work or social life
Already we're running into trouble trying to fit my square-peg hoarding tendencies into the round-hole of these symptoms.

Do I collect items that appear to have little or no value to others? Hell no! OK, I admit that I now own four (count 'em, FOUR) gas powered electrical generators. I guess that might seem strange to non-preppers. All of them were purchased for less than $100 and all of them are in good working order, so I'm not collecting junky  generators. When I bought the first one, I thought, "Great! Now I can have electricity when SHTF!" When I found the second one, I bought it thinking, "I can use the first generator for my own needs, and hook the second generator up to serve the tenants who rent out the apartments upstairs from me." When I found a third generator (for $25 at a garage sale) I thought, "Hey, I could use another one in order to give it to some needy person, such as someone who will die without their oxygen machine." When I found the fourth one (for $45 at an estate sale), I reasoned, "Now I can have an extra one to sell for enough money to pay me back for all four generators!" So, even though it's unusual to own 4 generators, I'm not collecting things of "little or no value to others". When these generators become valuable, they will be very, very valuable indeed!

The second criteria is severe cluttering of the hoarder's home. This one doesn't fit because I have made a schtick out of hiding all my hoarding, so much so that there is not a single clue any place in my home that I am a stockpiler. I live in a fairly small space; I have seven rooms, two bathrooms, three closets, a small basement, and a crawlspace. I do not have an attic, garage, or shed. I do not own any spare properties. None of the rooms in my home has a suitable set-up to be dedicated to holding supplies. I am not willing to give up ANY of my limited living space to prepping. Therefore, I've made a gimmick out of sticking my hoard where the sun don't shine: under things, behind things, above things, in between things. I have preps in all rooms of my home, but they just don't show. My house is tidy and organized. Therefore, this is strike two, because there is no inordinate clutter anywhere in my home.

The third symptom is impairment or distress in work or social life. This is another "Nope." My friends and co-workers think my prepping habit is a bit odd, but that's the worst that can be said. I have a terrific job that I've held for six years; a tight social circle that's been intact for two decades; and a vigorous marriage of 32 years, all to the same (slightly bewildered) husband.

Here are the questions a psychologist would ask of a compulsive hoarder, along with my answers:

  • Are you able to resist the urge to collect items, even those you know you'll never use? (I'm not just thrifty; I'm ultra-thrifty. I'm not just frugal; I'm uber-frugal. I never buy anything unless I think it will be useful, and I only buy useful things when I can get them dirt cheap. How many cans of soup will I buy when they cost $1.50? None. How many will I buy when they cost $1? Ten or twelve. How many will I buy when I can use coupons to get them for 25 cents each on double coupon day? 50 or so, depending on how many coupons I have!)
  • Do you often avoid throwing things away because it is too upsetting? (Nope! I make regular trips to the donation bin at Goodwill, as well as the dumpster in the alley.)
  • What percentage of your house is unusable because of clutter? (None, not a single square inch; see above.)
  • Are your possessions disorganized? (NO! I am a bit OCD about organization. I have a lot of preps and am compulsive about tracking their location.)
  • How much does the clutter in your home embarrass you? (Not at all. I love showing off my home, having parties, inviting people over. People who visit have no idea I'm a hoarder.)
One final point I'd like to make in defense of my hoarding habit is that I do not know anyone else in my immediate circle of people who is also stockpiling supplies. Therefore, when the food supply finally does reach a bottleneck (for whatever reason), I'll be the go-to person for all the people who previously made fun of me. Because I know they will be coming to my door, and because I know I will not be able to turn them away, I therefore resolve to continue collecting so that there will be enough to go around among my unprepared friends, family, and neighbors. This is therefore a humanitarian effort on my part, and not the result of mental illness.

Hoarder? Yes, I am a hoarder. Pathological hoarder? Nope, not by any stretch of the imagination. So there!


5/28/2012 10:27:33 pm

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