We have all read about hoarding, about recluses who have died under an avalanche of trash…
Although people around the world may scoff at the absurd fact that in the United States there are over 1 million people afflicted with pathological hoarding, the fact remains that hoarding is a condition that seriously impairs those that suffer from this form of obsessive compulsive disorder. We have all read about recluses who have died under an avalanche of trash, but less visible are those who merely live in filth with fire hazards or unsanitary conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic it is a difficult problem to treat, but by applying EFT for the underlying related causes I have seen the worst pack rats be able to toss out the clutter. The following are two examples from my practice.
Susan came to see me after her relative called me and voiced her concern that Susan would soon be buried under a mountain of junk. When we spoke, Susan identified a fear that she would need the things she was keeping in the future and that was the reason she couldn’t throw anything away. This seems to be a common theme with hoarders. The feeling she had of being able to hoard and keep all of her things gave her a sense of safety.
I asked her to name a time when she felt a lack of safety and she immediately recounted several memories of sexual abuse as a child. Besides clearing all the unresolved emotional pain of her abuse, we worked on letting go of the fear that she’d be getting rid of something of possible value. Within 3 sessions she was able to organize her apartment and give away or throw out truck loads of rubbish.
Lorraine called me when she felt too paralyzed to be able to move from her childhood home to a different city where she knew her life would improve. One aspect of her potential move that felt overwhelming was being able to clean the house to get it ready to sell as she had piles of junk on every conceivable horizontal surface. We went through different fears including the one I worked on with Susan. One core issue that appeared was an attachment she had to the items that belonged to her deceased father whom she had a particularly strong relationship with.
Even though I will feel guilty if I let this trunk go I will let my father’s memory go…
Even though if I give this to someone who can use it I will be letting go of my father and everything he meant to me…
I am afraid that by discarding this trunk I will be discarding a material expression of the love he had for me, but I deeply and completely accept myself anyway
After we got to a level of intensity of zero on these statements we then did a few rounds of positive reframes:
My father is laughing in heaven at the fact that I have become so obsessed with this old piece of junk.
The joyful memories I have of times together are what I carry into my new life and not the lifeless items in this old house.
A few weeks later Lorraine has tossed away bags of clutter, signed a lease on a new place in her favorite city, and has even found lucrative new work – all of which she had told me were steps too daunting to act on before we began using EFT. Here are other examples of issues related to hoarding:
Trouble making decisions – “I can’t decide what to do with this so I might as well stick it here for now.”
Procrastination – “I’ll deal with this mess later.”
Forming strong attachments to things or animals – “This item is a part of my life and I can’t let it go.”
Luckily not only are all of these tappable issues but any subconscious associations and emotions can me cleared completely as well making it less likely that the problem will reoccur.