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My Partner Is A Compulsive Hoarder

Sounds trivial doesn't it? "We all hoard stuff," you're thinking.

That's true but the way my wife hoards is different. Firstly, the buying and hoarding are only the most obvious signs of an all-consuming mental condition that mediates her responses to her family and anyone else who might get near the house.

The condition has only recently got itself a proper heading as a discreet mental disorder, so only after years of suffering her tantrums, social paranoia, her hiding things and, of course, the clutter, did I find a book which described the whole condition. Only then did I realise that all these problems were common to most hoarders. Not to mention the consistent refusal to accept formal treatment.

Only now too have I found a support group where I discover that true cures are very uncommon and that most sufferers end up forcing their partners and children away from them and then living - and dieing - alone in houses where only tiny pathways remain snaking between towering piles of dirty magazines, books, clothes, shoes and garbage waiting for recycling.

There are already three rooms in our house where the doors won't open and others where we can't reach parts because the clutter piles are too high. All the rest of the house is getting harder and harder to live in. Any suggestion of clearing just results in a torrent of aggression. There are almost no visitors to the house at all.

What can I do? I care for her I suppose, but I love our son and I have responsiblity to give him a proper environment to grow up in. Not to mention my own interests. I see no alternative to divorce.
londonwestman1 londonwestman1 51-55, M 3 Responses Feb 24, 2012

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I'm so sorry for you and your son but also sorry for your wife.
There was a documentary on tv about people like your wife. They called them messies. A social therapist helped to clear the flat but when she came back a year later, the hoarding had started again.

There have been a spate of similar TV shows lately. In fact we were nearly on one. But, as you say, the extent to which hoarders drop back into the habit is a major issue with this as well as with proper talking or drug therapies. Some of the TV shows are presented echoing the basic structure of a home makeover program. This would involve the hoarder and the shows presenters revealing the newly cleared house to show off how well they have been "cured" which is obviously pretty monstrously inappropriate.

no there is help and you must insist on getting it. many of us hoard but not to the kind of extremes seen in this article. because its more common than we think it is not taken as seriously as we would like. you need all agencies working together with you . environmental health is the first port of call if there are serious health issues for your self and son this should get the ball rolling. if you love your wife then she needs support as it is often easier to walk away . dont take no for an answer there are plenty less deserving who have money constantly thrown at them

Gawd! That's weird.... Not meaning to pry, but can't you get divorced? Maybe you're afraid that she'll demand a huge alimony, right? You and especially your son sure need space to stretch your legs.

I am moving ahead with divorce now. It's been delayed mostly by my worry that there's danger, even in what looks like quite a clear-cut case, that the man can end up "losing" on the day - especially as regards custody. Also she does not respond to solicitor's letters and - let's be honest - I've been slow.