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Messie syndrome: From then on, disorder is a mental disorder

Messie syndrome: From then on, disorder is a mental disorder


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When does disorder become a disorder?

If people uncontrollably pile up objects in their apartment until complete chaos breaks out, so that a normal life in the apartment is hardly possible, then there is often an organizational deficit disorder, which is often referred to as Messie syndrome. Those affected are not just untidy, but suffer from certain experiences or impaired social functions that continuously drive them into chaos. An expert reports on possible ways out of chaos.

In Germany alone, 1.8 million people are known to have an organizational deficit disorder through help networks and other institutions. However, this is only a rough estimate. Because, according to the German Association for Occupational Therapists (DVE), the number of unreported cases is much higher. "The topic is as shameful as hardly any other," explains DVE occupational therapist Karoline Stiebler.

Almost everyone is a miniature messie

Most people know the basic problem of themselves. Old tickets or postcards are stored in a drawer. Small souvenirs from holidays can be found everywhere and old favorite clothes clog the closet, but are no longer worn. People are reluctant to part with things to which they attribute meaning, even though they have little real value.

When passion for collecting turns into illness

What can still exert a certain charm among collectors becomes an agony for those affected by an organizational deficit disorder. "What is shown on the outside reflects the inner life of those affected," Stiebler explains in a DVE announcement. These people find it extremely difficult to make decisions. This also affects the choice of things to keep or throw away. In addition to certain personality traits, trauma or impaired social functions are also often the cause.

Internal reasons for the disorder

Another theory sees the reasons in the inner soul area. For example, excessive self-efficacy in childhood can lead to a lack of self-efficacy, or an overly strict upbringing leads to a pronounced lack of independence. There are many reasons why an organizational deficit disorder develops. Those affected suffer very much from the situation. Often they don't let anyone into their apartment for years and have problems with their partners, landlords or neighbors. In some cases, even children are taken out of families by the youth welfare office.

With respect and clear goals from chaos

Occupational therapist Karoline Stiebler reports on possible ways out of chaos. She knows from experience that as a therapist you first need a great deal of sensitivity to build trust in those affected. “These people are afraid that their things will be taken away from them. They have already experienced that, ”emphasizes the therapist. She treats her clients at eye level and with respect, makes clear agreements with them and works out common goals.

Separate yourself from superfluous things with the basement trick

According to Stiebler, the motivation must first be clarified why those affected want to change something. The so-called 'Messie House Index' can be used to determine how much area of ​​the apartment is still accessible. Then you have to start together to clear the chaos in small steps. For example, a box in the corner or unnecessary dishes can be stored in the basement. Everything is done with the consent of those affected. If the sorted things are not missed after a few weeks, those affected often find it easier to separate them.

Promote motivation

As Stiebler reports, it is particularly important for occupational therapists to strengthen the motivation of those affected. For example, this can be done by consistently praising the success. The constant interweaving of the reasons for the change could also help those affected to achieve their goal. In the event of setbacks, one has to show understanding. "As a therapist, it is really important to free yourself from the fact that only results count," says the occupational therapist. In the end, it depends on the importance of those affected by things.

Therapists are more distant than family members

"If the client cannot let go or give away things, that is his and not my thing," emphasizes Stiebler. In contrast to relatives or friends, therapists are less emotionally involved. This professional behavior is not to be expected from the family. The task of friends and family is more to remain in a positive and appreciative relationship with those affected.

How can changes be permanently preserved?

If there is more order in the apartment, it must be ensured that it can also be kept. Daily schedules, weekly schedules, and budgets can help keep things organized. "There are self-help groups that call themselves, for example, 'Messiehilfe' or 'Messie-Selbsthilfe group'. Tips are exchanged there and relatives can also come along, ”the expert recommends. (vb)

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