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Disposophobia: The Fear of Getting Rid of Stuff

Assistance with Getting Rid of Disposophobia or The Fear of Throwing Things Away

Ever felt on edge when your family forced you to clean up in your childhood?

Does the task of discarding old possessions make you feel uneasy and restless?

Do you constantly have anxiety about getting rid of things, some of them that have absolutely no utility?

If the answer to all of these questions is a yes and you constantly wonder ‘Why can’t I throw stuff away?’, you are most likely going through Disposophobia.
Let us understand in detail about this irrational fear of throwing things away.

What Is Disposophobia?

Simply put, disposophobia is the irrational fear of getting rid of stuff. You may ask why is getting rid of stuff so hard? The individuals in this condition experience conflict in throwing away things. They have a constant desire to accumulate things that have no utility or value.

Fear of Getting Rid of Stuff

The term itself is derived from the Latin word Dispos implying “getting rid of personal belongings”, and the Greek word Phobos meaning “fear.” Together, Disposophobia is the irrational fear of getting rid of possessions. It is similar to a hoarding disorder.

In severe cases, their homes are crowded with piled-up things on tables, counters, floors, and windows. They may have no moving space, and this can quickly compound into further issues such as self-isolation and health risks.

The individual suffering from Diposophobia will carry out compulsive hoarding. They experience acute anxiety when any of these items are moved or thrown away.
What is hoarding a sign of? Hoarding is a disorder on its own or maybe a symptom of any other condition. It is closely linked to obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression.

What Causes Disposophobia?

Similar to other specific phobias, Diposophobia may be inherited due to the person’s childhood or any environmental factor. Some probable causes include:

● Having a family member with this condition
● Injury in the brain that triggers you to hoard things
● Uncontrollable buying habits and inability to detach from the existing ones
● Traumatic life event
● Depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder
● The individuals have an intense sentimental value with the things around them. They feel they will lose the people and the significance of the things if discarded.

Disposophobia Symptoms

Disposophobia is associated with certain general, physical, and psychological symptoms. The hoarding disorder affects an estimated 2% to 6% of the American population. Let’s understand all these signs individually.

General Symptoms

● Hoarding of unnecessary things
● Exhibiting indecisiveness, avoidance, procrastination, and lack of organization
● Difficulty in discarding or parting things, and constantly saving hoarded items
● Cluttering the rooms with food items and trash
● Not washing or avoiding waste of things
● Experiencing a feeling of comfort and security from the collected items
● Having a deep emotional connection with the items around you

Physical Symptoms

If an individual attempts to discard or is confronted to do away with the collected things, they might undergo severe anxiety. Here are some physical symptoms of the same.
● The individual might feel hot flashes or chills along with headaches and sweating.
● They might be trembling, or feeling shortness of breath.
● Nausea, dizziness, or feeling of fainting are also a few signs.
● There is increased numbness, a dry mouth sensation, and constant confusion.
● A person might hyperventilate over small things, and in extreme cases, the blood pressure also fluctuates.

Psychological Symptoms

A person suffering from Disposophobia might undergo the following during a panic attack.
● They may feel a constant fear of losing, and being ridiculed. This makes them socially aloof.
● They fear losing control and dread that they will self-harm.
● There is a constant state of hopelessness, lack of concentration. They are angry and irritated with severe mood swings.
● There is a lingering fear of rejection.

How To Get Rid of Stuff: Self Help For Disposophobia

● Start by locating a certified hoarding therapist. The individuals experiencing disposophobia must be able to trust the people who wish to help them. You can also take a disposophobia test to know the intensity of your hoarding disorder – involving a trained professional is a great way to better understand the phobia and work on controlling it.
● Try your best to understand the deep-rooted factors that have influenced this condition.
● The best plan of action can be undertaken when you come to terms with all the kinds of items hoarded. Hence, it is crucial for the person and their therapist to understand the different forms of hoarding.
● Once you have gained enough resources, you can commence with the cleaning and sanitization of the house.
● Disposophobia sufferers must divide their items into three categories to achieve a normal living. These are:
1. Keepsakes/collectibles
2. Donations
3. Trash/Garbage
● Once the items are organized, start placing them back into the areas they fit. Throw or donate away the items that do not find a place. It is important to remember that everything must be stored in a definitive place.
● Once you have completed the organization part, frequently clean your home to maintain a safe environment, and prevent future hoarding.

Disposophobia Treatments


Cognitive Behavior Therapy

In CBT, the individual is guided to work on his thoughts to achieve positive behavior. It is an efficient way as desirable thoughts impose a change of nature. The therapist supports discovering the reasons behind particular thoughts and behavior.
It is short-term and changes the way a person feels. It dwells on making improvements in the present rather than focusing on the past.

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is one of the most effective ways to treat a person with Disposophobia. In this method, a psychologist recommends ways to disrupt the pattern of avoidance of the fear. A safe environment is created by the psychologist where the individual is gradually exposed to the fears. This helps them reduce the avoidance and deal with the triggers better in reality.
The individual is also assisted with some relaxation techniques by the therapist.

Neuro-Linguistic Programs

This therapy involves guiding the individual to:
● Experience the phobia in a safe space.
● Dwell through the phobia along with happy emotions.
● Gradually detach from the fears.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

MBSR is an eight-week program that amalgamates meditation and yoga. Started in the 1970s by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, this addresses all the negative thoughts, fears, feelings, and behavior.
It develops awareness of the present moment and helps to reduce all the factors that contribute to stress and fears.

Tips To Avoid Disposophobia

While therapy and treatment for the phobia are encouraged, you can also adopt some healthy coping mechanisms that help you avoid the phobia.
● Meditation helps to clear off the bundle of random fears and thoughts. It gives you a calmer approach to deal with the feared stimulus.
● Self-help groups are a gathering of people going through similar issues. These groups provide you moral support to deal with or avoid the fear. They also present the personal experiences of others and broaden your coping mechanisms.
● Take up jogging or follow an exercise routine. A healthy body will promote a healthy mind.
● Keep a check on your eating and drinking habits. This will help you reduce anxiety to a major extent.
● Adopt a healthy sleep cycle to improve concentration and focus.

In Conclusion
Phobias can be physically and mentally exhausting. While the person has to deal with internal fears, he/she might also face stigma from the outside world.
If you are someone who is undergoing disposophobia or you know of someone who is suffering, remember that these fears are extremely valid. They occur to people from every walk of life and deserve attention and treatment.
Treatment and adopting new behavior have achieved milestones in reducing disposophobia and compulsive hoarding. It can curb the need to save items and live a hassle-free life.

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