Our Hoarding Tendencies

On a level of 1 to 10, how much of a hoarder are you? At Nautilus, David Wallis examines our tendencies to hoard, and how it has “taken on full-fledged disorder status in the DSM-V handbook”:

This year, for the first time, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM—the bible of psychiatrists and insurers—listed it as a distinct disorder. It is also one with serious consequences, with the potential to ruin relationships, result in evictions, and fuel lethal fires. And according to the American Psychiatric Association, 2 to 5 percent of the United States population suffers from it.

After all, we are being pushed to consume. “Contemporary U.S. households have more possessions per household than any society in global history,” explains Jeanne E. Arnold, professor of anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In 2012, Arnold and a team of sociologists and anthropologists published a book, Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century, based on a four-year study of 32 middle class, dual-income families in Los Angeles. The authors found that 75 percent of families banished their cars from garages “to make way for rejected furniture and cascading bins and boxes of mostly forgotten household goods.” Superstores like Costco, they argued, have increased our tendency to stockpile food and cleaning supplies—and the result at home is stress. Women who described their homes as cluttered had higher cortisol levels—a sign of stress—than those who didn’t.

It’s not just us either: squirrels hoard acorns, but studies have suggested that 74 percent of the acorns are never recovered. In his piece, Wallis recounts a story told to him of an eagle that collected 23 dog and cat collars after supposedly eating the animals.

I’m not a minimalist, either.

The item that adds up the most in my house are paper products: magazines, old wedding and baby shower announcements, bank statements from years ago that have collected in a box. I’ve requested paperless banking when possible, but things still trickle in. Perhaps the thing I finally need to get is a shredder.

Photo: Buzzfarmers

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