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How can Sharyn's family help keep her hoarding in check so this doesn't happen again? "Sharyn's off to a great start, and I think what Sharyn and Marvin and the kids are all bearing in mind that is really important is that this cannot just be about the stuff. It is not about physical possessions," Dr. Tolin says. "If it were that simple, all we'd need to do is clear out the house and the problem would be solved."

Dr. Tolin says Sharyn needs to clear her head, not just her house. "She needs to really reorganize not just her possessions, but the way she thinks about her possessions. She needs to alter her behavior in a fundamental way so that this problem doesn't grow," Dr. Tolin says. "And the best thing for the family to do is support her without pushing. Because if they push, they're just going to get a push back."

The psychology of a hoarder is why Peter says you can't clean up someone's mess for them. "They just get more and more entrenched. It's like the argument. Once you start arguing about the stuff, someone has to win and someone has to lose. And I can guarantee it, the person who has all the clutter or the hoarder will never lose that argument ever," Peter says.

Peter thinks Sharyn is on the right path. "Sharyn's ready, she's agreed for ongoing help, the family have agreed to monitor it. Sharyn has agreed to get into some substitute activity, into some volunteer work. She stopped shopping," Peter says. "I think all the indicators are there that she is on track and that change is possible."

It took a lot of hard work, a team of people and a heavy duty cleaning crew... See the dramatic results of Sharyn's home makeover.

Could you have a hoarding problem? Take this self-assessment. 
FROM: Inside the Lives of Hoarders with Peter Walsh, Part 1
Published on November 15, 2007


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