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Available through Amazon

Available through Amazon

Where are the lines drawn between the disease-stricken hoarders, the messy clutterers and the over-enthusiastic collectors? Dr. Barry Lubetkin, Phd, ABBP offers us insight on the distinction between a diagnosed disorder and a hobby or personality characteristic.

Hoarders and Clutterers and Collectors Oh My!!!

The Psychiatric problem of hoarding had been under diagnosed for many years .But recently with increased media attention(see several New York Times articles in the past four months),the

wildly popular reality TV show “Hoarders” and recent major advances in the diagnosis and treatment of this mental affliction, many more people are getting professional help.
It is important to point out that while many of us may have lived with and accepted clutter in our homes for our entire lives, being diagnosed as a hoarder requires that the clutter must seriously interfere with the quality of our lives and risk our safety. Navigating through dangerous paths in our home with furniture and garbage piled on either side, shame of exposure leading to living lonely isolated lives, or irrational superstitious beliefs that cleaning up or throwing out certain articles will lead to terrible consequences………these all will confirm the diagnosis.

The etiology of hoarding is multi determined…….a previous diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder, prolonged depression, unkempt,and chaotic childhood homes, have all been implicated. Even the well intentioned collector who has enjoyed his passion for saving and displaying his collections is sometimes at risk if other psychiatric disorders emerge and create a vulnerability to depression and indifference to caring for themselves or their living conditions.

Treatment involves a variety of interventions :Anti depressant medication,engaging family support during the clearing process, Cognitive Behavior Therapy to reduce anxiety and panic and designed to educate the hoarder on the irrational and superstitious thinking elements of the disorder,and guided practice in controlling their environment post treatment.

With less serious clutter collectors who feel their mess has gotten difficult for them to control, I suggest starting with small portions of the affected areas (one corner of the bedroom,piles of books and papers on the floor,etc), and slowly progress over time to prioritize what to throw out. Dividing your “stuff” into A ,B and C groups………must keep, maybe keep, must dispose, is often very helpful. Feel free to contact me at ibt104@aol.com for further advice.

 Barry Lubetkin, Phd, ABBP is co-director of the Institute for Behavior Therapy in Manhattan.  Dr. Lubetkin has written two widely acclaimed books. Bailing Out (Simon and Schuster and Prentice Hall Press) and Why Do I Need You To Love Me In Order To Like Myself (Longmeadow and Borders Press). In addition, his 3-disc audio series on treating insomnia Dr. Barry’s Sound Asleep has recently been published. 

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Deutsch: Bleistiftspitze English: Pencil tip

Deutsch: Bleistiftspitze English: Pencil tip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you ever see an old pencil?  Well of course you did… you could tell it was old because it had advertising on it and and the phone number was DIamond 436-6871.  Diamond?? Yes kids, telephone exchanges used to be designated by words.  Usually just the first two letters or sometimes three letters of the word.  Growing up, my exchange was DIamond, my husband’s was    TEmpleton .

You can also tell when a pencil is old because it’s more than likely round and a color other than yellow.  And then of course the eraser is a dead giveaway.  Atrophied, hard as a rock, blackened and totally unusable.

BUT the pencil….!!! If it’s dull all you have to do is sharpen it and it will write just like it was a newbie fresh out of a box.  And it doesn’t matter whether the pencil is a vintage No. 2 Farber or a stub of an old giveaway.  Once sharpened, you can write with this pencil today, tomorrow, a year from now, 25 years from now and it always writes the same way.  It doesn’t deteriorate with old age.  It doesn’t wrinkle, sag, lose its sight and hearing or for that matter, its hair, its arteries don’t harden although its head does!

It will write in cursive, block print or anything in between you scribble.

Think about it….wouldn’t you like to age like a pencil?

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OK clearly this question is limited to those of us who are of either a certain age or are collectors.

Unfortunately I fall into both categories although admittedly an avid collector, records is not one of my collection addictions.  No, I leave that one up to Peter.  Yesterday was a sweet example of making a collection work for you;  Finley came over for a visit and since we know she is fascinated by all media we thought we would expose her to kiddie records from the 40’s and 50’s. We happen to have an extensive library of kiddie records because Peter’s father was a partner in Record Guild of America, a leading manufacturer of wonderful laminated and illustrated cardboard records for kids to play on their very own phonographs.   I had a really cute red and white record player like a little suitcase.  Anyway, we finally found an old one in good condition and couldn’t wait to introduce little Finny to this particular pleasure.  We thought she would be fascinated by the fact that there was sound but no moving pictures.  And she did love it!  After showing her how it worked, Peter let her put her own records on and move the needle arm and play the records.  NOW, I know I sound just like a proud grandmother, but really, she is only 2 yr. 8mo old and she quickly grasped the concept and knew to move the arm gently.  It was quite a treat for us and we hope she enjoyed it as well.

kiddie records, phonograph, child's record player, Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, Record Guild of America

The picture goes round 'n round!


Now here’s the good part;  Mommy showed up with little Francesca for a short visit and the first thing Finley said to her was, “see my DVD‘s”  – oh well…..

So back to the first album you ever bought.  The first album I ever purchased was “Only Love Can Break A Heart” by Gene Pitney. First of all, I thought the song was great and I also liked The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence – what can I tell you – I was a strange teenager I guess.  The reason it was probably my first album purchase was because by the time it came out, I had some of my own money to spend, whether it was from babysitting or my weekend work at The Cenacle (that’s a whole other blog).  I was a rabid Elvis Presley fan but when he was really at his height I only owned his 45 rpm records, probably my father bought them for me.

So I’m throwing out this question in hopes of getting some interesting replies from everyone.  It will be fun to see just what was the first album you bought?

Only Love Can Break A Heart, the man who shot Liberty Valence

Gene Pitney

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