Article 15 – Hoarding: Greg’s Story

A Valentine twist.  As is usual with hoarders, addicts, or behavioural disorders in this range, it was a family member that had called, desperate for help.  Having seen the first series of “The Hoarder Next Door” Judith rang Channel 4 to see if they could help her.  You will have met Pauline, from the ‘Xmas Special’, episode 1, in my last article.  Greg is my second client on that programme in this 2nd series.  (You can view the episode again via 4 on Demand)

Antique dealer Greg’s hoarding had gone way beyond a collection, or a reasonable overspill.  Judith and Greg had lived together for a number of years, both previous marriages having broken down.  Judith clearly loved Greg but she just didn’t feel she could continue living with him AND the excessive hoarding.  Judith was at the end of her tether.  One of them HAD to go!  They were living in Judith’s house and she was financing the keeping of them and the house, while Greg was trying and wanting, in vain, to make an income and contribute to their financial needs, via his interest in 2nd hand furniture.  But time after time his obsessive buying had eaten up the little and irratic income he had.

As you watch the programme, you will notice Greg’s resistance to working with the expert De-Clutterers. We were puzzled why they were put to work with Greg and his hoard BEFORE he had his first therapy session with me.  This merely confirmed what we expect – that will power alone is highly unlikely to effect the change needed to break such addictive or obsessive compulsive behaviour patterns.  Whether in personal determination, New Year’s Resolutions, or with all the professional and extra support a TV company can muster, lasting change doesn’t occur at this conscious level.  Using brief psychotherapy we are able to identify the original, often deeply hidden cause very quickly, enabling us to get straight to work to clear away the disabling, even terrorising thoughts feelings immediately, that Greg never realised were buried.

Not only did we identify Greg’s trigger, and historic events that caused his unhealthy impulses to keep on buying, but he also realised how affected he was by his partner Judith’s harrowing baggage from the past and with their house.  Once we had unhooked the negative and excessive emotion from driving him, we then looked at the emotional needs that were clearly lacking in his life.  To effect lasting results, we set goals for his new future, with steps and the accountability to keep him on track.  As a result, physical de-cluttering of their home, his relationships, and his rather different view about “buying” now flowed naturally for him, as will be evident from the TV Documentary. Greg left saying “It’s a release to dig into the thoughts and things that are holding you and decisions back in life.  It’s like a peeling off the layers of the past.  Things are a lot easier now; my thoughts are a lot freer.  It’s a lubrication of the mind; a good release of baggage. It’s certainly cleared me up.  I can see a lot clearer now . . . I don’t HAVE to buy items now.   I’ve got to look at things that are cost effective.  I can appreciate things without having to buy them now!” 

Lisa with Greg and Judith

Lisa with Greg and Judith

Their TV episode having been aired at Xmas, in their final follow up session, on Valentine’s Day 2013 in Birmingham, it dawned on Greg: “Everyone else I know in antiques does it as a hobby, only part time.  I could go get a normal job and bring money in that way and then enjoy the antique fairs as my hobby!!” Animated discussion ensued as we identified two areas that Greg could step right into – work ready and waiting for him.  And as we set this goal I challenged Greg on the necessity to define and separate his home life with Judith from his work at home, and that if he wanted to stay with Judith, then he had a choice to make . . . Greg realised that, not having ever married Judith, how it must seem – to her at least – that he was more committed to his hoarding which had taken over her home, than he was to his relationship with her.  Greg, needy for security – whether Judith’s love, or his finances – had unconsciously secured his future with a false sense of security . . . How could he leave with his obsessive hoard having taken over every room in Judith’s house. . . the very same house that Judith had lived with her husband and . . . the very place where her husband had suicided . . . Whether they realised it or not, it was not surprising there was a negative emotional behaviour hooked to this house.

So our session ended with revisiting and revitalising Greg and Judith’s joint vision – of moving to a new home together in the countryside, to start life over again as a couple and with their own space (with a separate and contained barn for the antiques)!

View video testimonials and case studies of Greg and Judith

Hoarding: Greg’s Story

For Emotional, Physical, Stress & Crisis Relief & Workshops
Lisa McCorrie . . .“Well Naturally!            HG Dip. (Psychotherapy) GHGI
Specialist in Mental and Emotional Health & Well Being
Journey Ambassador for Central England           See:
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To speak to Lisa about private or corporate Workshops, or her private Therapy Practise in Birmingham, “Well Naturally!”, contact her on lisa.havecourage@gmail.com