Richard Wallace has become one of the UK’s best known compulsive hoarders since his appearance on the Channel 4 documentary, ‘Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder’. The 63 year old has made great strides in his recovery, storing far less junk than he used to. His large garden now only holds 16 cars, surrounded by trolleys, chairs and walking frames, while a marquee stores 36 years worth of newspapers and magazines.
Inside the house there are multiple fridges, TV sets and milk bottles among other things. And although he can only just get into four rooms of his bungalow (the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and lavatory), he has already removed over 100 tonnes of junk from his home.
Richard’s tentative steps towards recovery have been helped by his friend, neighbour and psychiatrist Andy Honey. While Richard has made progress, it is not happening as fast as Andy would like.
“Richard is looking at a five-year programme, but I’d like to think it will be under control in another 18 months. He doesn’t need to clear every single room, but I would like to see the things he needs become accessible to him and the papers stored in a way that he can get to them.”
The condition is said to affect 3% of the population and levels of relapse tend to be high. New hope for sufferers arrived over the weekend however, when the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recategorised hoarding as an illness in its own right (after previously treating it as a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder). The result of this will hopefully mean more money for research into the condition, boosting hope for a more effective treatment.
Are you a hoarder?
1. Do you fid it difficult to use your rooms because of clutter?
2. Do you find it hard to disregard, recycle or give things away other people would normally get rid of?
3. Do you collect things you can get for free, or buy more than you can afford?
4. Do you experience any emotional distress because of the clutter?
5. Is your clutter and/or inability to throw things away having an adverse effect on your social life or relationships?
If you have answered yes to these questions and think you may have an issue with hoarding, speaking to a counsellor could help you uncover the cause and work on reducing the compulsion. For more information, please see our Compulsive Hoarding page.
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