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In a recent Chicago Tribune feature by Alison Bowen, married couple Bec and Lee Shuer share the steps they took to manage Lee’s hoarding disorder. In the article, Lee discusses how hoarding impacted his life, and how with support from Bec, he was able to overcome his disorder, and eventually offer help to others.

When Bec and Lee Shuer were dating, she thought all of the stuff crammed into Lee’s house belonged to him and his roommates.

When they later moved into a studio apartment together in Massachusetts, she realized all of that stuff was Lee’s. Overflowing boxes, stacks of albums and games — the seemingly endless inventory filled not only their home but a storage unit and shed, as well.

Bec’s frustration mounted when, months into their marriage, she found herself climbing over piles of objects to access a kitchen gadget or get dressed for work. 

“I was losing myself,” she said. “I couldn’t access my hobbies, my love of cooking. My home was a misery for me.”

The Shuers attended the International OCD Foundation’s annual conference in Chicago last year to talk about hoarding, a disorder characterized by excessive accumulation and an almost paralyzing inability to get rid of possessions.

Read the full story on the Chicago Tribune website here.


  • Joyce peden

    Mu daughter needs help- she is a hoarder, her house is a terrible mess, her husband doesn’t, help- she has young children

    • Alex Bahrawy

      Hello Joyce,

      Feel free to contact us directly at info@iocdf.org and we would be happy to help your daughter find some local resources.

  • Hi, I’m a journalist–not a clinician–writing an article about hoarding. Would it be possible for someone within the organization to review my finished 700-word article, to be sure I’m covering the latest research and treatment options? It’s a huge responsibility that I take very seriously to get the right information out there.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    • Alex Bahrawy

      Hello Kristen,

      I’d recommend reaching out to our Communications Manager, Meghan Buco, who handles media requests on behalf of the Foundation. She can be reached at mbuco@iocdf.org.

  • Lauren Hassing-Patterson

    My brother has struggled with mental illness for 50 years. In his adolescence it started with anxiety, then OCD and then Hoarding. He has been under treated, treatment resistant and medication resistant and has refused to let anyone in his home to help. I was not in touch with him for 10 years and he dramatically deteriorated and now his OCD is in charge. He will lose his home soon if something doesn’t change. I have tried to provide support for the last nine months and cannot keep it up. He is in the Kaiser system and is not able to navigate that system to get better. If anything the stress of trying to get help in the system is causing further distress. He has been on Adderral for 3 years) and is going through withdrawal symptoms as his Dr. will not prescribe it any longer. He was not weaned off of it and is not being medically supervised. He is on 5 mg of Lexapro (just started 2 months ago) and this is not a therapeutic dosage

    I would like to be provided with programs in our area for OCD and Hoarding.

    Thank you

  • Lauren Hassing-Patterson

    So sorry, we are in the SF East Bay Area

  • Vincent

    I fear losing things most of which are insignificant any information or idea about that

  • JG

    My mother is a hoarder. it got significantly worse after my sister and I grew up and got married. My mother’s house is a health hazard but she refuses to see she has a problem. I can’t even take my son to my mothers house because of the condition it’s in. I worry about my mom and her health constantly but she won’t get help. Says she keeps everything because she is poor and cant afford to replace it but he floors are covered in trash and her cupboards have mouse droppings and the house reeks if mice and odors. What do I do?

    • Alex Bahrawy, IOCDF Community Support Specialist


      I would highly recommend checking out our “For Families” section of this website. This contains a large amount of helpful information and tips for family members of somebody with hoarding disorder: https://hoarding.iocdf.org/for-families/for-families-2/

      In addition to this, it may be helpful to contact a hoarding disorder specialist yourself or even visit a hoarding support group. You can search for these types of resources directly under where it says “Find Help” on this website. You’ll be given the option to input your zip code and search based on location.

  • stefanie mackenzie

    I need help in knowing how to help my son. He’s got a hoarding disorder. We discovered it last year. He agreed to accept help, and has gone to see a therapist on your website. He’s been going semi regularly.

    We got Spaulding to clean out the house and then I had it renovated. Mostly the flooring had to come out. His cats,2, had urinated on the floor upstairs to the point the carpet and wood sub flooring was ruined. The smell was unreal. There were major clutter issues as well.

    He’s been living with me while his house is being renovated. He’s done quite well here, but now it’s time for him to move back in.

    I’m horrified that I haven’t done anything to consciously work with him. We’ve discussed things openly and frankly, but I don’t want to push as I know his willingness to change is what’s paramount. He’s been living with me for 6 months. His cats have been here, living with mine.

    I’ve arranged to have a cleaning service for him every other week for 6 months. They are to report to me if things are getting out of hand again.

    How can I help him? I feel as if I’ve lost a precious opportunity to work with him.

    • Alex Bahrawy, IOCDF Community Support Specialist

      Hello Stefanie,

      I’d highly recommend checking out the Hoarding Disorder & Families section of our website here: https://hoarding.iocdf.org/for-families/for-families-2/

      This contains a lot of great information and some tips on how to best help a family member with Hoarding Disorder.

      • barbara strandt littlefield



  • Erik Svendsen

    Hi there,
    My mother is a hoarder and lives in Rochester, NY. I live in Fort Lauderdale, FL and just recently visited for a funeral. She is currently living with my Uncle and grandma in a sub city of Rochester. I went over to her house and it was worse than I thought. Raccoons are in the house and I opened the door to stuff being eye level with me. I am 5 ft 7 in tall. I took a video and am at a loss as to what to do. We don’t have money to spend and I am truly at a loss as to what to do. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Alex Bahrawy

      Hi Erik,

      You can search for hoarding disorder treatment options and other resources using the Resource Directory on the main page of this site: hoarding.iocdf.org.

      Many professionals and programs are able to offer low-cost treatment options such as scholarships or sliding fees. You can search this using the Resource Directory or by inquiring directly with any professionals you find.

  • What can you do when your spouse has Hoarding Disorder, and quite possibly Borderline Personality Disorder and flies into s rage whenever I bring up getting rid of the piles and piles of things she’s collected? She’s completely filled up our 250 square foot shed, a small camping trailer that was supposed to be temporary while we were moving into our very small house. And it’s impossible to organize anything that’s in our house because there’s no space left to put like things together. It’s truly driven me crazy for decades.

    • Jessica Price

      Hi Bruce — Thank you for sharing, and I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles. Please contact us at info@iocdf.org or (617) 973-5801 and our resource specialist will help you find support.


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