News Trove, In Excess, Piling On & Letting Go

News Trove, In Excess, Piling On & Letting Go

News Trove, In Excess, Piling On & Letting Go 2011 1491 AEPC Health

Warning: Possession Obsession Poses Health Risks

Ever feel like you just can’t resist buying that new electronic gadget, extra pair of shoes or colorful socks during the latest greatest sale even though your house is being taken over by stuff?  Or when you open your closet and felt like you’re staring into a time capsule of ‘maybes’? How many times have we hung onto jeans that are just a tad too tight, convinced we’ll shed those extra pounds? Or that shirt from 10 years ago that surely will come back in style?

Then there’s the stash of ‘someday’ items. Boxes filled with gadgets we rarely use but swear will come in handy someday. Books we’ve been meaning to read, hobbies we plan to pick up, or kitchen gadgets that promise to revolutionize our cooking—eventually.

And don’t forget the treasures we keep because they might be worth something someday. Antiques, collectibles, or random knick-knacks—we’re convinced they could be valuable down the road.

Well, imagine that feeling cranked up to eleven!

Legends of Excess
Born into a wealthy New York City  family in the late 19th century, Homer and Langley Collyer seemed destined for success. Both attended Columbia University—Homer earned a law degree and practiced law, while Langley, with degrees in engineering and chemistry, never held steady employment and preferred playing the piano.

Despite starting their privileged beginnings as upper middle class in a three-story brownstone family home, the brothers grew increasingly reclusive as adults. After Homer was left blind by a stroke in 1933, Langley quit his job to care for him and began collecting items like car parts, pianos, newspapers, books, and magazine. Their home became  filled from floor to ceiling with Langley’s collections. To prevent break-ins, Langley boarded up windows and rigged the house with booby traps and secret tunnels.

Their story took a dark turn in 1947 when Langley, attempting to bring supplies to Homer, triggered one of his traps and was buried under debris. He died, and Homer, unable to fend for himself, passed away soon after.

Authorities later removed 130 tons of junk from their house, including baby carriages, rusted bicycles, guns, glass chandeliers, bowling balls, camera equipment, dressmaking dummies, painted portraits, plaster busts, rusty bed springs, 25,000 books, eight live cats, silks and fabrics, clocks, and 14 pianos.

More Than Too Much
Named after the infamous Collyer brothers, Collyer’s syndrome describes a compulsive need to hoard things, often leading to hazardous living conditions. Today, this syndrome is recognized as hoarding disorder, distinct from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) since 2013. It commonly coexists with other mental health challenges like depression and anxiety disorders, affecting over 14 million people across the United States.

Hoarding prevalence and severity increases with age, affecting roughly six percent of adults over the age of 70. Hoarding disorder places older adults at greater risk of falls, increases the likelihood of losing critical items such as medication, and heightens social isolation.

Understanding and addressing hoarding disorder requires compassion and support, recognizing it as more than just messiness but as a serious mental health challenge that can be treated.

Be sure to check out In Excess for more on hoarding disorder.

Happy reading,

Suzanne Daniels

  • News Trove: current healthcare news, including GLP-1s lower cancer risk, FDA bans food additive, Louisiana surgical castration law.
  • In Excess: hoarding concerns increase, stress of multigenerational hoarding and using virtual reality to treat hoarding.
  • Piling On: the problem of employees working on vacation, concierge medicine disrupts care for many, and a few surgeries account for post-op opioid use.
  • Letting Go: including my personal favorite, Pathbreaking South African Horseman Hands a New Generation the Reins!

Enjoy the weekend!

Suzanne Daniels, Ph.D.
AEPC President
P.O. Box 1416
Birmingham, MI 48012
Office: (248) 792-2187
Email: [email protected]

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