Date: January 19 2015
Author: Erin O'Dwyer
Psychologist Meredith Fuller grew up in a hoarded house. Her mother Judith was a deserted wife who raised two children in the days before pensions and childcare. Plunged into poverty, she started hoarding. A million bits and pieces – books, broken blinds, cardboard boxes, clothes, furniture, plastic bags, sachets of sugar. Nothing was discarded, everything was salvaged.
"She had piles [of stuff] as high as I am," recalls Meredith, 58. "You had to burrow through these traps and mazes."
Hoarding is not a new syndrome. But last year, it was recognised for the first time as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). It affects between two and five per cent of the population and is often triggered by some kind of trauma. It's defined as the persistent difficulty to part with possessions, regardless of their value.