Many people just automatically assume that hoarders and preppers are the same. 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.
However this is an inaccurate statement and not fair to those of either group.
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.
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 deplorable and unsanitary, yet 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.
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 on the other hand are completely organized when 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 and 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, analyzing every plan and idea down to the simplest of details.
Everything is planned out, from organizing the pantry to monitoring the amount of time passing 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.
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 possibly 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.
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.
You Make the Call: Are They the Same?
Hopefully this article has answered that question for you and you now have a better understanding of both. 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.