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The Difference Between Hoarders and Preppers

Many people just automatically assume that hoarders and preppers are the same. With the creation of new television series such as TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive and Hoarders, the difference between them has become an interesting subject.  Generally, when most people think of someone stockpiling, they usually put everyone in the same category. And that category is with the so-called pack rats and hoarders.

“Preppers are hoarders!” is a common statement. I know I’ve heard it many times before when trying to explain what I do. This of course irritated me beyond belief because of two reasons:

  1. Preppers are not hoarders and
  2. Hoarders are not preppers.

Hoarders

The best way to start this off would be to simply define what a hoarder is. A hoarder is a person with a genuine personality disorder which cripples their ability to function normally and to have a normal life. Compulsive hoarding is a type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which compels the sufferer to collect and store things that they feel are important to them because of a sentimental reason. True, some preppers are touched with this disorder but not all.

Hoarders come from all walks of life. They are young, they are old. Some are even high ranking people in the corporate world. The disease is not discriminatory when it comes to choosing its victims. Since it is considered a personality disorder, most hoarders are diagnosed and treated by licensed therapists. Once they’ve accepted help, the change in this compulsive behavior doesn’t happen overnight and usually takes months and even years to get to the root of the real problem and to correct it.

But of course, a compulsive hoarder cannot get help from a professional if he/she doesn’t feel like there is a problem. And when they do not feel as though they have a problem it usually makes their situation worse. They tend to see life through blinders, only seeing what’s in front of them instead of seeing the picture on a larger scale.  It’s like the pink elephant in the room that everyone refuses to acknowledge is there. So is the mind of a hoarder. It’s their brain’s way of rationalizing and coping with the reality that they are living in a heap of junk. Everyone else can see the problem except for them. Which leads me to the next point of interest.

Hoarders usually have don’t organize their hoard. Their stuff (often things of little value to everyone around them) is tossed here or there and is not arranged in any organized fashion. Compulsive hoarders tend to take everything to an extreme level and not see anything wrong with it. Oftentimes too, hoarders become overwhelmed and their hoard takes over their homes. People on the outside (family, friends, neighbors, can only look on in disbelief.

worm farming

Hoarding is so extreme because they have a true mental illness which causes them to live in conditions that are not suitable for most humans. Sometimes the conditions are extremely deplorably and unsanitary and hoarders feel like it’s completely okay. This is really a sad case. Those living with hoarders tend to suffer mentally as well because of the hoard. Hoarders sometimes have spouses and children who either adopt the way of life as their own or create a happy clean bubble and remain in that clean space.

Here are a few examples of hoarders’ houses:

A Look Inside the Home of an Extreme Hoarder Named Mike

Children of Hoarders – Children of a compulsive hoarder

Another More Extreme Case of Hoarding in an Unsanitary Home

As you can see from these examples, hoarding is not a good thing, which is why preppers like me hate to be put in the same category with hoarders. Hoarders claim to care about their possessions and their home, but they really don’t. They see nothing wrong with the mess. And that’s exactly what a hoard is: A big mess.

It’s a sad situation for a person who suffers from compulsive hoarding and it’s a sad situation for their family and friends who love them. The conditions they live in threaten their lives and shorten their lifespan because of the unsanitary and dangerous positions they allow themselves to be in. Clearly hoarders need professional mental help because they are a risk to themselves and to those who live with them.

Preppers

Preppers on the other hand are completely organized with it comes to their stockpile. We never call our stockpile a “hoard”; to do so would diminish the value of our hard work. Preppers take pride in making sure their stockpile of food, water, supplies are fresh and arranged in an organized manner. While some preppers are touched with a compulsive personality disorder, the overall group of us function on a highly calculated level, calculating every plan and every idea down to the simplest of details.

Everything is planned out, from the way we set up our pantry to the amount of time passes in between the rotation of the supplies. Preparation is the heartbeat of preppers. Everything is done with the purpose of maintaining and extending the life of the family unit.

An advanced prepper with an organized stock of supplies could easily walk into his pantry and find exactly what he wants. Even doing so sometimes with his eyes closed. I like to arrange my survival pantry like a convenient store. Each shelf has items that belong together, each shelf is labeled, and each item is properly categorized. This works for most preppers, even beginners.

Preppers know that the best way to survive is to know exactly what you have and to know exactly where it is at all times. This is one of the aspects of prepping that sets them clearly apart from hoarders.

Although sometimes hoarders may be able to locate an item of interest, usually everything is lost under layers and layers of the hoard. Preppers on the other hand, take pride in the organization of their stockpile. Preppers may have stocked a lot of items, but each item has a place, a category, and even sometimes a label.

If granted access to view it, people on the outside looking into a prepper’s stockpile may at first be completely blown away by the immensity and detail of their stockpile. They may stare in wonder or even be shocked at how extremely organized it is. A successful prepper makes sure that his or her stockpile is in order.

And also unlike hoarders, preppers can function normal lives, and they do! They are not afraid of inviting family and friends over to their home because more than likely, they have a separate room or area of the house set aside for they stockpile and generally preppers don’t let others know what they have. But when they do feel like showing, they’re not embarrassed and their guests are not embarrassed.

Here are a few examples of a preppers’ stockpiles:

Suburban Prepper’s Huge Stockpile

Healthy Prepper’s Pantry Tour

Super Organized Prepper Pantry

You Make the Call: Are They the Same?

Hopefully this article has answered that question for you and you now have a better understanding. Seeing the stark difference between hoarders and preppers lends to the understanding of why preppers don’t appreciate to be put in the same category as hoarders. No mental disease is fun, and it usually take professional help to “cure” a hoarder.

Prepping is not a disease and preppers are not a bunch of pack rats collecting junk. Everything that a prepper stockpiles, goes towards the enrichment and the prolonging of life. Every plan a prepper puts into place – is carefully calculated and every action is thoughtfully executed.

End of the Matter

It’s not easy prepping for a crisis or a collapse in society. Prepping is an art, a very skilled art that takes years to master. To refer to a prepper as a hoarder is not only derogatory but also a misinformed view. When examined side by side, the differences between hoarders and preppers are extremely clear. While they both have a lot of items in their possession, they couldn’t be any more polar opposites.

Hoarders are surrounded by a world of disorder. Disorder in their minds and in their lives. Their accumulation of things is out of control, unchecked, and it takes over their lives. They need professional help to clean up their homes and to help stabilize their minds.

Preppers are surrounded by a world of planning and organization. They plan out their every move, their every purchase, and their future. The things that they’ve accumulated are there particularly for the purpose of extended the lives of them and those with them. Preppers usually don’t need help maintaining their stockpile, and if they do, they delegate the help to those inside the family unit.

This article discussed the differences between them. With closer examination, one could see that these two groups of people are truly different.

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About MIra J. Ross

Mira has been prepping for 10 years. Living in the outskirts of metropolitan Atlanta with her 3 children, she's preparing not just for SHTF events but also for everyday emergencies.

One comment

  1. Those examples of hoarders aren’t just hoarders; they are filthy and lazy. Too lazy to make it to the dump or trash can.

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