Friday, September 11, 2020

Does Hoarding and Narcissism Go Together?

The other day I was binge watching this year's Hoarders show.  This one showed Sherry and her son, and there was this scapegoat daughter in the mix.  Sherry and her son were both hoarders. They lived in complete and utter chaos and filth, with some strange codependent relationship that seemed to border on emotional if not outright incest. They were totally insulting and rude to the daughter, Lauren, who lived in normalcy. The scapegoated daughter was definitely the healthy one in the mix, while the two scapegoaters were very severely mentally ill. They were very cruel to her, and put her down even as she tried to help them. I felt sorry for her, and wish I could have shouted through the screen "Go no contact!"  She wasted her time begging for crumbs of love from these moral monsters. Her family members were just gross. I hope one day she can wake up and see them for what they are.

I was rather angry at Dr. Tolin who didn't tell Lauren to go no contact but who said a few pat words about her family not treating her right. The counselors of the world need to stop pussy-footing around malignant narcissism and sociopathy. Lauren is wasting her time seeing those two as "her family", they will never love her. Her brother and mother don't care about her and never will

Then there was the story with Carol. Be forewarned, she will give you the willies. She moved in days after her "best friend", Bea, died. One son told us it was "ruled as a suicide". Carol then married her husband. He was a rich guy, and she cleaned out the money shopping and hoarding until she dropped. She even had a second mortgage taken out on the house. One daughter, Missy, discussed Carol's financial shenanigans and seemed to believe Carol was out to use the family from the start. The house was a beautiful mansion which was completely trashed.

The husband was an absolute push-over and the adult kids you could tell were horrified by all the proceedings.  You could tell they were disgusted and one got the feeling there was a lot not being said between the lines. Was Carol having an affair with the husband to start with? The adult kids did accuse her of using their Dad and lying. Even Dave the milquetoast husband called her "very controlling". Just watching her in my opinion was watching a malignant narcissist in action using DARVO, projection, and fake tears. At least in this case because Carol did not own the house, the Hoarders people were allowed to clean things up even with her protestations. Sadly soon after this clean-out, the father died and the family were forced to sell the house.

Some of the most nasty personalities have been showing up on there. Watching Hoarders to me sometimes is like watching malignant narcissist personalities in action. I know hoarding is it's own mental illness so not every hoarder is going to be a malignant narcissist or sociopath. Some of the hoarders on that show definitely fit other mental profiles, but there are a lot of malignant narcissists, who are abusive to those around them.

 There's many mental illnesses that play into it here, but definitely some very toxic people have been put on display. Sometimes it drives me nuts personally watching people with loving adult children who love and care about them take them for granted. It also is hard to watch the sheer selfishness as objects are chosen above people. There's part of me thinking why do these people even deserve to have families? Sadly many times you can see the dynamics in the house played out where the whole family is kissing the person's ass who is completely trashing the place and destroying their lives. They all give in and do everything they are told. Why won't they just get a shovel and giant box of trash bags and get to work? Dysfunctional dynamics have to be going on within a family that allows a house to be destroyed via hoarding.

How many narcissists are hoarders? The two women mentioned above definitely are ones. While writing this article, I went and asked Google, "Are Hoarders Narcissists?" I found this video, and this vlogger definitely things many hoarders are narcissists and describes her reasons why.

I won't name names or details, as to which of my now ex-friends were hoarders or not, but there was a few hoarders I had for friends. There were three friends who had major problems with hoarding. Five all together if you count two main relatives who were hoarders, and one I spent a lot of time with in my early years. This included Aunt Confused and later Aunt Scapegoat.

Some may find it weird that I befriended so many hoarders. As I said, I suck at cleaning but I throw things away, I want things to be clean and nice even despite my lower socio-economic standing I had my carpets cleaned just a month ago. In my family there were two major hoarders, there was Aunt Confused who hoarded out a trailer into trash and left the pig's head in the oven, and there was Aunt Scapegoat hoarding her trailer to the point she had to have a forced clean out by other relatives. I see a pattern here as both aunts, both had severe narcissistic related problems with one being a covert narcissist and one a full blown although more on the border-line wing.

With Aunt Scapegoat, during the earlier years in no contact while I was writing those articles, I realized that Aunt Scapegoat was narcissistic as well. She never thought of the needs of those around her, she was parasitical even during the years she was healthy enough to work, and she did things like having people come visit from 2 hours a way only to refuse to answer the door.  She would even keep her door shut and locked with one cousin coming to the door. Oddly the family would say weird things like, "She is just that way". So in many ways she matched the predominant behavior of the family. My fond feelings for her were based on rose-colored glasses childhood and teen memories, but even with her, I was stuck in the mode of begging for her affections as well, and they were anything but freely given. My feelings towards her did change, and I realize it was her choice to ignore my gifts, cards and attempts at a closer relationship.

I had three college era friends who became hoarders or showed major possible signs of it and where attachment to objects came first. My mother while neat, put THINGS first, so I can see how that pattern came about in my life. Our entire life was spent around the fixing, cleaning and organizing of things.  With a few of the friends, their hoarding was less noticeable in college, they were maybe sloppy like me in our dorm rooms but full hoarding came out in their adulthoods.

Some may say who are you to judge? I am bad at housework, however I can throw things away. I don't get attached to all objects and if someone said I could have organizers and cleaners in here tomorrow, I'd jump at the chance. My apartment is under constant inspection, twice a year, monthly doctors so even if I wanted to become a hoarder, it couldn't happen. I had the carpets cleaned two months ago.

But watching these shows I had some revelations, while I grew up with neat freak family members the fact that two hoarders arose out of my family did not surprise me. Looking back, I definitely was befriending other people with severe problems where hoarding was a red flag sign. What else was there? I would end up ending all friendships where these problems existed after my no contact.

Some may find it weird that I befriended so many some ways it makes sense.

Some psychologists here would say that water floats to it's own level. Broken people will find other broken people. ACONs have the danger of re-enacting family dynamics in friendships, and I did to the max. I realized when I was befriending people deep into hoarding and other behaviors, this was a sign I was befriending other very troubled people.

I have strange memories in my head of these friends during my young adulthood. One friend let maggots take over her sink, as I visited her just acouple years after college. She was poor but this was beyond the squalor issues that can come with poverty. The dirty mattresses on the floor and other lacks were bad enough, but I was wretching over that sink. That was not normal.

One other friend she let two cats pee up her house, I went on a visit, where the smell of cat pee all over gave me asthma attacks and once I even left early because I could not take it anymore. There was trash on the floor of every room and piled up boxes. This lasted for years and was true of several visits during the late 90s and early 2000s. She kept every piece of clothing she ever owned back to childhood. This was not normal either. I have the feeling this friendship was ended and cut off, due to the problem of hoarding. She would not let me visit. I saw her last home in 2001 or thereabouts, and she had become a full hoarder, and black trash bags filled up the entire second floor of things she "had to go through".

Another friend told me she had gotten complaints about the things outside her house. She used to trouble me, she could afford organizers and cleaners in her case. It never made sense to me. I used to think why go through that hell if you can hire someone to just clean it up? I hadn't seen her house since 2001 either. One reason that friendship ended is because objects even new ones became her whole life. I felt like all emotions were shut down, she cared far more about her things. She also was against my no contact as well.

All of these friends with hoarding and other problems came out of ACON families themselves. One came out of a family where they scapegoated and screamed at her constantly even when she was an adult in her 40s. She identified and stayed within the family accepting her role. I was unable to. This made it clear why this friendship was doomed to failure. Another friend, her mother was a complete malignant narcissist who even verbally abused me calling me "the fat lump", and telling her that she should get a thinner friend. Enmeshment was the name of the game there where this suffocating mother called several times a day, and that friend chose to identify with her family too.

 In this case, I think she served a golden child role while others were scapegoated around her mother. Still another friend whose mother was so cold, she gave me the willies and who became the most severe hoarder came out of a very dysfunctional family like this too. Narcissism predominated.

Lest someone thinks I am trying to make myself out to be perfect here, I wonder at times if I could have turned into a hoarder myself.  Cleaning was always difficult for me. My ADHD made focus impossible and continues to this day. When I was young, my car was full of trash, and my husband remembers sitting in it with a foot of papers under his feet. It even saved my husband then boyfriend from getting a ticket once when he borrowed my car.  He got pulled over for speeding. The cop asked for the license and paperwork and the car was way too messy for him to find it. The cop threw up his hands in frustration, and gave him a warning.  In my case, I didn't put objects above people and could throw things away but some of those signs of dysfunction touched my life too. Did the narcissism I grew up with affect me in living this way? It would take years to get a semblance of order out in my own life, but I purposefully avoiding becoming a hoarder. As everyone knows, housework is the bane of my existence. 

Watching Hoarders became a lesson in what I wanted to avoid in life. My husband sometimes gets upset at me when I watch it, because I start cleaning saying we cannot turn out like that. He says it makes me worry about housework too much. Some weevils took over our kitchen last week. They probably came from a food pantry a few months ago in a bag of flour. We had to throw away bags and bags of flour, corn meal, pasta and everything they like to eat out of the cupboards. I think if I was a hoarder, the place would have become the Weevil Palace. 

With time, my changes did keep the predators away, I shut down vulnerability, put the empath crap to rest because all it did was get me used, and it changed my life, however socially it's rough, connection is far harder to find. There's also the issue, that after I went no contact, I walked from all of my family and at least half of my friends. The deconversion also has wiped the friendship slate clean with even the loss of a friend a few weeks ago.

Sometimes lately I have asked, why do I keep losing people? It's tough. I am not a cold person, I wanted some connection. Wanted the friends to care, or show emotion that simply wasn't there. The price of the family I had, has been too immense. There's life long repercussions. While I have and have had healthy and loving friends, my life, became very dominated by narcissists or those who identified with them.

I would end all these college friendships where they were hoarders after I went no contact. In my experience the two went together.

I am examining patterns. I met other people who were hoarders and while I was friendly with them, I am keeping distance due to my past experience. To me, it's a red flag sign.  I can't deal with it. Maybe some healthier people can't deal with messy me, so I have my constant conflicts, but it was too much. If people love and get attached to objects more, trying to get close to them, is not going to happen.  People who love objects and where things come first, it is a problem. It's not what I stand for. Narcissists are known for putting objects and appearances first.

 Maybe some hoarders are just people with OCD who aren't narcissists, and I've had trouble in that area myself without hoarding, but some major baggage can come with hoarding.

I would talk to the fellow past ACONs friends about leaving toxic families behind or reexamining their lives and treatment. In other situations, I wanted some to question fundamentalist religion but sometimes you do outgrow your friends. They aren't going to walk down your path. While you are being open and trying to have them understand it doesn't always work.

 I am not the person I was in college. Hoarding to me is tied to depression, darkness, and giving up in some cases. It's also tied for some people in my opinion who love objects more than other people. It's all very sad. Watching Hoarders I did think, what a waste. Seeing people brush aside all these people to put their things first made me sick. I even said to my husband while watching these shows, "Look at these people with those huge families, all trying to reach out and connect to them, and they don't even care!"


  1. Dear Peeps, you ask why so many narcs have darkened your door? Uhm, i seriously don't think it's you, or anything you're doing, or not doing. It's more like, stuff-loving, drama-making people are everywhere. It's like society is losing its marbles.

    1. I think society is having a collective break-down. USA especially...Life got too complex, even our technology ran ahead of our brains. Thanks for saying it is not anything I am doing. I think too many people put stuff first too.

  2. I think you make a good connection: Hoarding and narcissism go together. I became a minimalist pretty early in my life, certainly by age 10. I've actually had to teach myself to "hoard" a bit to have things on hand that I need, and of course the "prepping" that anyone in their right mind does these days.

    1. I think there's some cases where there is a different mental situation but yes often times, hoarding and narcissism walk hand in hand. Glad you become a minimalist. I know I need a lot too and yes with prepping, medical needs for me take up a lot of space. Even if I ever had big money I would not want the huge suburban house full of stuff, there's a point where STUFF OWNS YO U and this happened to all these hoarders!

    2. I became a minimalist by age 9 or so. I've had to teach myself to stock up on things. Today while out doing errands, I found (people leave stuff out on the curb all the time here) a nice wok, with a matching lid, that I think is probably a generation or three old and still solid. I was reading on reddit/r/preppers about a wok being a good thing to have, and I'm glad I stalled on buying one because I just got one for free. I've been stocking up on things like that, cookware and dishes, and especially books for when the internet winks out.

    3. Good idea. hey I think a lot of good things can be found for cheap or even in the trash. I wold have grabbed that wok too. They are good to have. I wouldn't mind one myself. Definitely want to check out that board. Yeah I got to get a few more dishes, when thrift stores are safer, and more books. I had books to read at least before libraries reopened.Yeah they will shut down the internet eventually here, many won't be able to afford it anymore.

  3. Internet here in Silicon Valley is almost as slow as dial-up. I can watch videos on YouTube at 240p-480p, once in a while higher but not often. I can't upload video to YouTube unless I feel like spending 1-1/2 hours to upload one minute of video. I'm not sure what my boss pays for this; I want to say $70 a month but I'd not be surprised if it's twice that.

    People not being able to afford it is one thing, and also just overall collapse.

    The library here has/had a business model of allowing you to check out books and then when you returned them, claiming they never got them and charging exorbitant prices for them. Think $100 for a small hardcover. Think $200 for a DVD. It was nuts. So I didn't borrow there any more, but they had a really nice book sale area and I'd drop $5-$10 on some nice books. Well, now that's gone, but there are these "little free libraries" around town and I pick up books there and also order books on Amazon if it's something I really want.

    On Reddit, /r/preppers, /r/prepperinfo, and good old /r/collapse are always good.

    1. Wow is the internet slow there because that's the center hub and they neglected the locals. My husband works online that would not work. We pay a LOT for internet and cable. The amount borders on embarrassment, let's just say it's a giant chunk of household income but part of this is for him to work. I worry about their plans to charge for every website, like they've done nickeling and diming over every cable channel. I've never seen anything on Netflix, can't afford it, hear about all these great shows, there's a point I can't pay for all of them. Worry about different charges coming for every individual website.

      I wonder if you could get reciepts of returns to library. Hell at that point I would demand it, and signed by librarian that checks in my books, I am a bit of a rabble rouster that way. I can't afford to buy all my books, maybe that would be a solution, that is nuts charging that much. Glad you find the free libraries. Our library is fair but this is an affluent town where they do get new books a lot. I check out books every two weeks, and it's one of the few places I am going. Thanks for reddit, pages, I hang out on collapse already. That board can be scary to read, but it's real what is happening.

  4. Hi Peeps,

    When I have looked at the literature about hoarding and talked to psychologists, it can often be a PTSD "thing".
    Covert narcissists especially can display co-morbid symptoms in terms of PTSD (C-PTSD, if you go by the World Health Organization rather than the DSM).
    My late father (an empath with incredible integrity) was a hoarder in terms of food, warm clothes and to some degree reading materials. I attributed it to the war he lived through where he did not have adequate clothing in snowy weather and often not enough food to eat (especially when supply lines were broken for days on end). He said that there were times when he would only get one meal every 3 days.
    I knew a lot of soldiers who hoarded food, particularly if the food came in cans.
    One guy had a wall of shelves lined with cans from floor to ceiling in his basement and he'd have the oldest cans towards the door, and the newer ones at the other end. Like a whole grocery store aisle of canned goods and not kidding.
    From what I have witnessed with narcissists is that they are either so clean and anal that you can eat off of their floors and look terrified if so much as a crumb falls, or they are pack-rats and hoarders. It's the extremes.
    There are actually a lot of reasons for hoarding, but PTSD is just one of them which narcissists, victims of narcissists and war veterans can get.

    1. Yeah OCD as I mention above, definitely impacts hoardering, and PTSD can do it too. Like a "I am going to run out" sort of thing. You always read about those kids who went without food who get into a safe fosterhome full of food and hide it upstairs in their rooms. I can fully understand why that solider hoarded food. Makes you wonder about all the prepping in the USA. Everyone here knows I have strong interest in prepping, is that related to my time in that blizzard with only a box of Cheezit crackers and some Vienna Sausages for a week? Interesting you've noticed the narcissists are either extreme neat freaks, or pack-rats and hoarders, I've noticed the same. Of course I grew up with the "neat-freak" kinds in the immediate family. Yeah I fully agree with you PTSD can lead to some hoarding behaviors.

    2. Same here: neat freaks in the family.
      I also worked with someone who was a micro-manager to the extreme (she was a co-worker and not a boss - but they do like to pretend they are bosses!) - and she had all of the symptoms of NPD. But the main thing is that she would be triggered into a rage if something wasn't placed "just so" or it ruined her idea of perfection. She said that I had to "please her OCD." Like the guy in "Sleeping with the Enemy" - also a narc.

    3. Oh those neat freaks make the rest of us so miserable, it's horrible you had to deal with one at work. I hate the ones who lecture on cleanliness but who never help. I would tell her, it's your job to deal with your OCD not mine. I am done with neat freaks. Yeah I remember the guy in "Sleeping with the Enemy". Both my mother and sister are extreme neat freaks-dry out the sink, I once saw a picture of my sister's refrigerator prior to no contact, she actually put all left overs in acrylic boxes with LABELS. Not a spot or a crumb. That's just insane. So wonder she had no hobbies. She has the money to be a Stepford Wife.