fb-pixel Skip to main content

A cluttered house could be a sign of a deeper disorder

Re “Junk science can’t reverse a clutter disaster” by Beth Teitell (Page A1, March 28): Clutter is the tangible result of two opposing societal imperatives: acquire more and do not waste anything. At the intersection lies a massive accumulation of objects no longer needed but seemingly too valued to be trash. This makes clutter a pervasive problem.

As mentioned, paying for professional organizers and buying books on organizing doesn’t necessarily make you more organized or reduce your clutter. Paradoxically, it may increase clutter, as new books with new solutions are purchased and saved. Letting go of objects that you no longer need does reduce clutter significantly and make organized living achievable.


When clutter gets to overwhelming proportions, as described in the article, it may be indicative of a larger problem, such as hoarding disorder, which affects up to 6 percent of the US population. As many as 50 percent of those affected do not recognize they have hoarding disorder or that their behavior is problematic. Even worse is that hoarding symptoms increase in severity as an individual ages. Consequently, clutter may represent the tip of a mental health and public health crisis as people become increasingly unable to declutter their lives.

Kay T. Jewels

Clinical research assistant

Donald A. Davidoff

Chief, neuropsychology department

McLean Hospital