The word “hoarder” gets thrown around a lot these days, but we should really be careful with how we use it. There are quite a few key differences between being a pack rat and a hoarder, and the distinctions are important to recognize before anyone jumps the gun. We’ll go over a few of the signs that indicate whether someone is a true hoarder or not, as the actual condition is not as widespread as some people believe.
Pack Rats Tend To Keep Things With Purpose
One of the biggest differences between being a pack rat and being a hoarder is the idea that pack rats keep things for specific purposes. They may have a lot of items, but if you ask a pack rat what the purpose of keeping something is, they will usually have a good reason for hanging onto it. Sometimes the item only has a niche purpose, but it still has one. On the other side, hoarders tend to accumulate more items that serve no purpose other than to take up space.
Pack Rats Are Usually More Organized
If you enter a pack rat’s home, you can normally see that there is a system taking place inside the space. They’ll be able to tell you why things go in certain places and how they’ve organized in each room. Compare this behavior to a clinical hoarder who rarely has set ground rules for where things should go in their homes. A pack rat’s tendency to organize is what separates them from a true hoarder.
Hoarding Interferes With Daily Life
One of the signs that a hoarding tendency has become a clinical problem is when all the stuff they’ve accumulated becomes an interference in their daily lives. Where pack rats usually have a place for everything they keep, hoarders will keep things wherever they happen to fit. This can interfere with things such as cooking, bathing, and even just walking around. A pack rat, on the other hand, wouldn’t let their items become such an interference.
Hoarders Will Keep Anything and Everything
There are certain things we keep for longer than we should, but a hoarder takes this to the next level. Anything at all can become part of the hoard, whether it’s valuable or it’s simply trash. The compulsive need to hoard drives them, rather than the actual desire for the items themselves. Pack rats, in contrast, tend to keep a lot of things for a long time, but those items usually either serve a purpose or have some sort of meaning attached to them as well.