We know that when we get anxious, the fight-or-flight response is triggered and our bodies experience many physiological changes and symptoms that we find stressful and unpleasant. But, do you know what causes us to get anxious? It may not be what you think.
No, it’s not that upcoming presentation at work or that plane flight next week. It’s not something external.
I’m a psychologist, so I’m going to try to help you discover the answer. Here’s an example. You and a friend are out on a morning walk and a neighborhood dog barks loudly. You love dogs and this makes you smile as you comment, “He’s up bright and early.” Your friend, on the other hand, is startled. Her heart begins to race and she finds herself a bit breathless, as she comments, “Oh my! Where is it? I don’t like dogs.” Same situation. Very different reactions. Okay, now do you have an idea of what causes anxiety?
Compulsive hoarding has attracted a great deal of media attention. These media portrayals, whether they are television, newspaper, or other illustrations of the problem, tend to be somewhat unidimensional. Yes, these individuals’ homes are frequently difficult to navigate, and, yes, these individuals appear to be excessively attached to items that many of us view as of very little or no value. However, these snapshots into the lives of these individuals sometimes lack the depth of difficulty these individuals have in their lives.
Let’s look at a few of the challenges that are often under-conveyed, but that are very real, very significant challenges to individuals, their family members, and to us, as psychologists who treat them.
The compulsion to hoard belongings has been likened to addiction; yet there are some important differences between the two. In a previous post, some of those differences were discussed. Most importantly, however, are the differences in treatment approach. I am frequently asked by loved ones, “Can’t I just go in and clean the house?” It can be difficult to understand why this is not in the best interest of the individual struggling with hoarding difficulties. Herein lies the reason: