Here's something I've mentioned before, but it's worth mentioning again. Let me set the new scene.
A few days ago I overheard a co-worker of mine complaining about his wife and her stuff. Apparently, she has many big boxes of stuff that had been moved from the year before, and have yet to be opened. It was the same old story I've heard before: one spouse is a packrat, the other isn't. And the one that isn't thinks that making threats and ultimatums will actually do something. He said, "I told her, if she doesn't have all this stuff moved out by this weekend, I'm throwin' it out myself." I turned to him and said, "Are you ASKING for a divorce?"
My point, as I explained to him, was this: making ultimatums is unlikely to get the problem solved.
Am I trying to defend this packrat whom I have never met? No. She has a problem, whether it's just an isolated incident blocking her hallway, or a more general problem of always keeping too much stuff, and she should do something about it. And he's stuck with living with this unwanted stuff in the same home, which isn't fair for him. Again, my point is that of all the ways of helping a packrat with their cluttering problem, some ways work but some ways do not and might even backfire. This was a case of the latter.
As with any sort of compulsive behavioral problem, it's hard to understand the situation if you don't have it yourself, and thus make the mistake of oversimplify the solutions. What may seem like the most logical solution to YOU, is not necessarily going to work for THEM. Mind you, I'm not knocking logic. Hell, I have a Master's Degree in mathematics, so trust me when I say I'm no enemy of logic. But you have to realize that people like hoarders do NOT cognitively think in the same way as your average Joe does when it comes to these objects. That's why they're hoarders in the first place!
I often bring up alcoholism as an analogy. Let's say you have a friend who's an alcoholic. She has a bottle of Jack Daniel's in her hand. Logically, somebody might look at that and think "Ah-ha, that's the source of her problem, right there in her hand. So if I reach down and take it away, the problem will be solved." Yeah, right. Ever try to take a drink away from a drunk? They don't get sober. They get violent. They'll find ways to sneak in more booze. Likewise, packrats will naturally get defensive (or worse) when you try to take their stuff or move it without their permission. They will just hate you, and may just end up getting more stuff which inevitably winds up in the space you just cleared.
I've written examples of "do"s and "don'ts" in the following past two blog entries:
It will be interesting if my co-worker has new stories on Monday...