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Understanding Squalor Syndrome


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Squalor Syndrome: What It Is and Why It Happens

Squalor Syndrome: What It Is and Why It Happens

Squalor Syndrome

What? Squalor syndrome (also called Diogenes, Havisham, Plyushkin, or messy house syndrome) is a condition where people elect to live a squalid life of deprivation amongst their own garbage and filth.

Why? It is not known exactly why they are like this. The difference between these people and those stricken by poverty is that they have other options but still live this lifestyle.

Who? It's found mostly in the elderly, but also in the young. Individuals who are unable to take care of themselves and find themselves in squalor do not have this syndrome. The difference is choice. However, saying someone "chooses" this lifestyle might not be entirely accurate. Their mental illness makes it impossible to live a normal life. They can get help to manage their symptoms, but they will always have the disease.

Senile Squalor Syndrome (or Diogenes Syndrome)

Squalor (aka Diogenes) Syndrome is a behavioral disorder that affects older adults who live socially withdrawn lives amongst rubbish, vermin, and filth. This syndrome involves self-imposed squalor and neglect that is not due to financial misfortune or physical limitation. These individuals are mostly (but not always) older people who are isolated from friends and family, usually because they purposely estrange themselves from others. Sometimes, their aloof or negative behavior begins when they are young. It can be classified as primary or secondary.

  • Primary: Primary Diogenes Syndrome has no mental disorder component.
  • Secondary: To be considered secondary, the person will also be diagnosed with dementia, extreme grief, schizophrenia, or a mental disability.

They don't want help.

Needy individuals living in squalor who don't have the disorder are glad to get help from anyone to relieve them from their situation, whereas people with Squalor Syndrome will need intervention and careful handling since they won't be receptive to help.

Signs of Senile Squalor Syndrome

  • They refuse assistance. Their attitude is that this is the way they live and no one should interfere with it.
  • They isolate themselves from people. Their situation prevents social calls. People are kept at bay by their uncooperative hostile behavior and lack of hygiene.
  • This might include dirty clothes, overgrown nails, uncombed dirty hair, decayed teeth, and body odor.
  • Because of their lack of cleanliness, the homes are full of bugs and rodents. Vermin and smells can travel, especially in apartments or to close neighbors. Bed bugs, fleas, roaches, and rats can migrate and cause havoc on the unsuspecting neighborhood.
  • They try not to call repairmen and avoid doctors.
  • Money is hoarded and not spent, even on basic needs. There are newspaper accounts of homeless people found with bank books showing they had money, yet they were living a piteous life on the streets.
  • The windows will usually be kept covered to prevent people from seeing inside and calling the authorities.
  • The person with the syndrome will be very uncooperative, preventing any meaningful response and alienating the neighbors further.
  • They usually do not seek medical or any other type of help. If they have a known illness, they may not take their medication, don't trust doctors, and believe they know better.
  • They usually have hoarding tendencies.
Hoarding and Squalor Syndrome are not the same, but they sometimes coincide.

Hoarding and Squalor Syndrome are not the same, but they sometimes coincide.

Living With Squalor and Other Hoarding Syndromes

Hoarding also occurs in concert with Squalor Syndrome: Approximately 10% of hoarders present with Squalor Syndrome. One leads to the other, depending on the type of hoarder they are. After the hoarding gets out of hand, it can become a squalor situation.

Hoarding vs. Squalor Syndrome: What's the Difference?

  • Some compulsive hoarders do not live in squalor. Granted they live among clutter, but some do take care of themselves somewhat.
  • Some hoarders try to keep their living areas as clean as possible and their collections neat and orderly until they get overwhelmed.
  • Ill health can be, but isn't always, a contributing factor in hoarders losing control of their stockpiles.
  • Some hoarders try to hide the fact of how they live so when they face the public, they try to look presentable. People living with Squalor Syndrome are noted by their bad hygiene and motley look—they don't even try to look presentable.
  • Hoarders might also be sociable and spend some time away from their home.
  • They may be unable to part with their possessions yet unable to manage them anymore.

With Squalor Syndrome, the operative word is squalor and in compulsive hoarding, the operative word is hoarding. But of course we see people with both.

It seems that the hoarding aspect of Squalor Syndrome garners the most attention. Individuals who do not hoard can live under the radar because their behavior does not impact on others as much. Even though they live in filth, their squalor is not as noticeable to outsiders.

Animal Hoarders

The animal hoarders we see on the news seem to have Squalor Syndrome due to the proliferation of feces and vile living conditions. There are plenty of people who keep a lot of pets that do it safely and cleanly—these do not fit the criteria of Squalor Syndrome or hoarder.

Early Signs of Social Breakdown

As with anything else, prevention is the best medicine, and if someone starts to show early signs of the syndrome, this would be the best time to help. But that is not possible in the overwhelming majority of people as they are only brought to the attention of authorities due to abnormal behavior.

Social Breakdown Syndrome is another term used for individuals who live in squalor. There can be many early signs of this problem. Aloof antisocial personality is something that can be seen early on; an unkempt appearance and untidy housekeeping might also be early signs.

Independence vs. Antisocial Behavior

These individuals usually are not close to any family and don't have any significant relationships with anyone else. The majority live alone and are widowed, divorced, or single. In some situations, this person would be labeled "fiercely independent," a person whose privacy should be respected. In some cultures, this behavior would be excused as "just the way they are." They don't consider themselves lonely and seem not to worry about their self-imposed isolation.

When Others Are Involved

What is true is that some are married or live with others, and this might help in preventing them from being totally isolated. Even within the house, they will isolate themselves from the rest of the household.

However, if these people are in control of others (like a dependent adult, child, or an animal), then they too are condemned to live in this manner. This is considered an abusive situation.

What can you do for a person who lives in squalor?

What can you do for a person who lives in squalor?

Is There Help for People Living With Squalor Syndrome?

There is no cure but there is help. Social services sometimes get involved with court orders to spend the person's money on necessary items. They might be put under a guardianship to force them to get medical care or repair their home from safety or sanitation violations.

Who can help?

If family is available to help, then they should be encouraged to try to keep in contact. If not, then local community members could fill the social gap.

Should they be removed from their home?

It is best for all if they can be helped and still reside in their own home.

What if intervention does not help?

Unfortunately, it is shown that even after an intervention, the prognosis is not good and most continue with the same behavior. However, a few can learn to function reasonably. Their home and person will never be clean but "reasonably" clean. We can't expect a complete cure, but we can hope for enough compromise to prevent their house from being condemned or their eviction from an apartment.

Will placement in a longterm facility or nursing home fix the problem?

If the circumstances call for placement in a longterm facility, they will bring their behavior with them. Refusal to take medication and refusal to wash or change clothes is common. Socializing with the other residents is something they have a hard time doing. Being verbally aggressive to staff and other residents prevents them from being liked. They tend to be aloof and disinterested in the activities that are offered. Their mortality rate is grim in nursing homes.

What if they are released from the nursing home?

If they go back into the community, they usually continue to live as before unless someone is monitoring them. The idea is to focus on the important things like washing and bathing, changing clothes, brushing their teeth, taking their medicine. They might need help with meals and cleaning.

How can I help?

It's important that the people who want to offer support have realistic expectations. This person will never reach what we consider "normal" standards, but they can make some improvements in order to stay independent.

Inside The Collyer Brothers House

Inside The Collyer Brothers House

Famous Hoarders With Squalor Syndrome: The Collyer Brothers

The Collyer brothers were hoarders and misers who had Squalor Syndrome. In March 1947, the Collyer brothers were found dead in their New York apartment, surrounded by over 140 tons of hoarded items. They had spent many years collecting massive amounts of stuff that cluttered their Manhattan mansion with tons of garbage. They were self-abusive, as they did not take care of themselves or seek medical care. Instead, they self-treated.

They lived in a self-imposed isolation of fear amongst their mountains of papers, car parts, dusty furniture, and vermin. They were afraid someone would steal their "treasures." Robbery attempts were cited as one of the reasons for the burglar trap inside the mansion that killed one of the brothers.

A Case of Squalor and Self-Neglect

While I worked for a hospital, there was a patient well known to us with COPD who had extremely bad breathing problems. COPD is a progressive breathing disease brought on mostly from long term smoking. He kept many dogs in his home and his clothes had fleas and ticks on them. He was presenting to the ER more and more because of his breathing.

Since he was known at the hospital, they would take care of his clothes and de-flea him if he needed to be admitted to a floor. I remember one time for whatever reason he was admitted without those precautions being taken and he infested the ward with fleas and ticks.

We assumed at the time that he was that way because his illness (COPD) made it hard for him to take care of himself, although his wife looked almost as bad as him and she did not seem to have any debilitating illness. He was instructed on methods to help his breathing, including cleaning his environment. He did not follow the instructions so he kept ending up in the ER.

Staff from the home care division did not like going to his house because of the flea infestation and clutter in his residence. This is also a problem with the social withdrawal of these individuals. People are repelled by their unhygienic behavior and look. They can smell bad and bring fleas, ticks, and roaches into any environment they go to. There are instances where they are told that they are not welcomed places because of fear of infestation and making other people uncomfortable.

His health suffered because of the living conditions. It is well-documented that indoor pollutions like dust mites and cockroach and mouse droppings can trigger an allergic reaction in COPD patients. His environment had more triggers than most yet he couldn't improve the situation.

The Oldest Story of Squalor Syndrome: Diogenes the Cynic

Diogenes of Sinope (412 BC - 323 BC) was a Greek philosopher who, among other things, was famous for walking around in daylight shining a lamp into peoples' faces looking for an honest man.

He was part of the Cynic school of thought, whose name comes from the Greek word meaning "dog." Plato is said to have called him Diogenes the dog. Apparently people would make fun of him, bark, and call him a dog. Diogenes is said to have responded by asserting his preference for dogs over humans. Some artwork show dogs with him or him depicted as a dog.

Diogenes was said to have detested extravagance, among other things. He ate very little and believed one should be self-sufficient and live as naturally as possible, which for him included begging and stealing from others. He was said not to have worn much clothes but the ones he did wear were coarse and filthy. He lived on the street and is described as being "shameless." Accounts have him doing private things in public places, which dismayed onlookers. He was very opinionated and never shied away from expressing any of his opinions. He was never one to isolate himself and stay aloof.

This is the person whose name is given to describe Squalor Syndrome. Most think the name is inappropriate for the syndrome.

More Famous Cases of Hoarding and Squalor Syndrome

Ida Mayfield Wood (1838-1932). She lived many years at the New York Herald Hotel with her sister and her supposed daughter. They had clutter in every room, piled to the ceiling. They lived on very little and hoarded every penny. In 1931 when a relative had her apartment searched, it was found to contain hundreds of thousands of dollars hidden in boxes and pots and pans. She did not trust banks and was distrustful of people, fearing they would steal her money.

Eliza Emily Donnithorne (182? -1886) is also known as the Australian Miss Havisham. The story goes that she was engaged to be married in 1856. When the groom failed to show, she took to her room, insisting that the wedding feast remain untouched. Although she was a pretty and social young lady, she is said to have never left her home again. She lived in her wedding gown and let the house fall down around her. There are various similar versions to the story including a Charles Dickens connection. He is said to have heard about her and based the Miss Havisham character on her. There are no facts to back up most of this story but it is still very popular.

Quentin Crisp (1908-1999), was a British writer, eccentric, and actor who prided himself for living in squalor, saying that "cleaning would be a terrible effort." He lived in Manhattan's East Village in a single room that was filled with dust and grime, including the "filthy dressing gown" he wore while home. He became famous after writing The Naked Civil Servant, a memoir.

Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (Big Edie) and daughter Edith Bouvier Beale (Little Edie) were the cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who lived in a crumbling Long Island, N.Y. estate called Grey Gardens. The former socialites lived among raccoons, multitudes of cats, and junk. They were brought to the attention of the public first by a magazine article in 1972 and by a documentary in 1976. In 1972, Mrs. Onassis paid to fix up the place and clean out the garbage. The house was sold a couple of years after the documentary upon the death of Big Edie.

The Collyer Brothers, Langley and Homer, lived in a home in Manhattan cluttered with 100 tons of papers, car parts, bicycles, chandeliers, and anything that could be carried in their mansion. The gas was shut off and they had no heat or hot water. Homer went blind and had a stroke in 1933. He was not followed by any doctors but Langley devised a treatment which included 100 oranges a week and resting his eyes by keeping them closed. Langley died when he tripped on one of his homemade booby traps (set to catch burglars) and massive amounts of junk fell on top of him. His dependent brother died soon after without care, probably from dehydration.

Howard Hughes (1905-1976). It is said as a child, his mother was overly concerned about his environment. In adulthood, he showed signs of obsessive compulsive disorder by being unduly interested in the size of the peas that he ate. He had numerous plane accidents culminating in the last fiery crash in 1946 that changed him forever. Some claim, without proof, that his later deranged behavior stemmed from stage three syphilis.

A once social and public person, he became more isolated from people, including his wife, actress Jean Peters. From about 1961 until 1971 when they divorced, they were living apart. She said she had not seen him for a few years before their divorce. By 1968, he had become quite reclusive, living in seclusion except for hired people he had control of. There were doctors on staff, but he did not listen to them. He was addicted to various pain killers stemming from his plane accident. He became bedridden from a fractured hip and continued to live in squalid conditions despite the fact that he was a germaphobe and worth billions of dollars. Even in his relative isolation he still involved himself in political pursuits.

When he died, it was ruled as kidney failure. He was dehydrated and malnourished. X-rays showed there were broken-off hypodermic needles in his arm. His nails were long, his hair was long, and he had a long beard. His height in his youth was 6"4" and at death he weighed only 90 pounds.

  • Squalor Survivors
    In the Squalor section we have a scale for assessing the seriousness of a squalor problem, and information on hoarding. The Stories section contains the real-life experiences of people who lived in squalor (some are now free of squalor, some are stil
  • Squalor Syndrome: Living Happily Among Cats, Fleas and Filth
    Those who live with the syndrome manifest personality traits like reclusiveness, suspiciousness, obstinacy and other isolating tendencies. There are often precipitating events -- such as physical illness, deafness, blindness and bereavement -- that m
  • Diogenes syndrome
    More info on the rare syndrome.
  • Extreme Phobias: The Collyer Brothers
    Homer Collyer (1881-1947) and Langley Collyer (1885-1947) were two US brothers that became famous because of their reclusive and hoarding lifestyle.
  • Collyer Brothers Park
    The brothers spent their retirement secluded in the brownstone they owned at West 128th Street and Fifth Avenue, now the site of this park.
  • Cops find man isn't dead, just a slob
    The awful stench coming from a Queens apartment on Monday was so bad that cops thought they would find a body inside
  • Diogenes the Cynic
    Gives a pictorial account of the ancient Greek Diogenes whom this syndrome is misnamed. Diogenes did not have Diogenes syndrome.

Poll On Squalor Syndrome

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Any Comments about Squalor Syndrome?

deb on September 29, 2017:

do individual states have laws regarding squalor? I was told by a social worker that my stepmother has the right to

do states have laws regarding squalor?

The daughter on September 19, 2015:

I knew it had to have a name. I haven't been to my mothers house in 40 years, yet I live a mile away. All my life she had cats and those cats were a priority - still are, in fact. She doesn't avoid medical care. She just avoids cleaning. The Clown Lady video is nothing. My mother was recently hospitalized and I told her I would take care of her cats... 7 of them, although 5 remain in hiding... Probably feral. My dad was the one who was the animal hoarder. He. Fought them home, she was supposed to take care of them. He was your basic hoarder. She has squalor syndrome. When we entered the house, the smell was atrocious. The drain in kitchen didn't work, nor were there light bulbs in the kitchen or bathrooms. The filth was horrendous. Cat food cans were everywhere due to an Ina iLife to easily get around. There were piles everywhere..garbage, papers, roaches, feces in one room that literally had to be shoveled up. All of the animals take flea preventative so fleas aren't a problem. She bathes and presents as a very intelligent 80+ year old woman. She's very likable as well as a good conversationalist. She has pretty much always been a slob, but this was so much worse than I imagined it would be. I am devastated at one point during a conversation on the phone while I was cleaning the mess she said she was hoping I didn't have to see it until she was dead... Among the filth are family heirlooms, jars of coins, old family pictures everywhere, so you can't just trash everything, but honestly, if she were dead, I might just have the place leveled. I can't write any more right now, but thank you for your website.

carmillatheblack on January 13, 2014:

A very good friend has a father I strongly suspect has this disorder. He is a multi-millionaire but looks like a street person. His hygiene is so terrible that being around him is revolting. It is an understatement to say that he truly stinks. He has been ostracized by most everyone because of his filthy demeanor. He was a dentist but refusing much-needed dental care. He is also opinionated, egocentric to the extreme, and miserly beyond belief. He dresses inappropriately when the weather is cold, because he refuses to spend money on a coat. He darns his ancient socks with green dental floss. What can be done?

jillaginn on November 23, 2013:

Fantastic information. My mother just passed away in her squalor at the age of 83. She lived among rats and their feces, with a basically non-operative kitchen (due to her squalor), and near the end of her life, no water service either, again due to her squalor. I had not been to her house in 10 years. She visited me and my family instead, and those visits were always tense because of her horrible hygiene, which she seemed completely unaware of. Going to her house after she died, it was just 10 years worse. I called the company that films that Hoarders TV show, they came and one day and $4200 later, everything in that 1700 square foot house was in 2 of the largest dumpsters you can imagine. My mother played bridge right up to her death and was in the top 5% of bridge players in the country - so she was intelligent, but she had a twisted mind. My sister thinks my mother hated her because my mother was so mean. Definitely didn't seem to care about her children, or anything much except getting her own way. She had her moments where she could be caring, but they were ruined by her mental illness. I hope she is free of this now. My sister and I are. It is strange to feel a mixture of relief, disgust and regret when you think of your mother and her death.

Colin323 on November 05, 2013:

A recent court case in our area highlighted the case of a lone parent, whose youngest child had died two years earlier, but whose mummified body was still in the house - which was knee deep in refuse. Helplessness and alcoholism had overtaken the woman. I felt anger and pity in equal measures about her.

GrammieOlivia on August 15, 2013:

I had the unfortunate experience of renting an apartment to someone who has this disorder. It took me 6 months to get him out of the apartment and then another whole month of cleaning everyday, 3 great big bins 4ftx8ftx4ft high to get rid of all the garbage. I don't know where he is living now and I really don't care. Part of me feels very sorry for this man, but relieved that he is not under my roof anymore.

anonymous on August 06, 2013:

I am so happy I found this site. My in-laws always had a filthy home ever since I met them 38 years ago. They were not hoarders but extreme misers who never spent a dime on home maintenance or on themselves. The house was in disrepair, they wore old, wrinkled clothing. I never knew it was an actual mental disorder. Now my father-in-law has died and mom is alone. The house is worse than ever even though my husband, her son, tries to clean and fix things up. She refuses to let him do anything. We were so frustrated by their behavior but now we know it is some sort of mental disorder. Too bad she is now 85 years old and nothing can be done about her condition. All we try to do is to maintain a path from the sofa to the kitchen to the bathroom. Her bedroom is so cluttered that she can not even sleep in the bed. She sleeps on the sofa. We feel that we have tried to help time and again only to be yelled and screamed at by her that everything is just fine. As I said, we feel better knowing she has an actual mental disorder that has caused this to occur when they both were young people.

Cynthia Haltom from Diamondhead on May 25, 2013:

This is definitely a problem that must be addressed. Living in conditions such as this are not acceptable and the health of individuals is certainly in jeopardy.

anonymous on January 04, 2013:

@sandralynnsparks: It is very difficult. Has your situation improved? Do you have an update? I'm trying to figure out what to do with my daughter.

anonymous on January 04, 2013:

@anonymous: My daughter has this problem and she lives with me. I wish I knew what causes this. I know it's a mental illness. She is 45. I feel trapped and used.

anonymous on December 29, 2012:

@dhogueruegh: You obviously did not understand that these people have their children taken away and put into foster homes because of filth and general medical neglect. also their neighbours are invaded with fleas and rats!! I guess that's paradise for someone like you.

anonymous on November 18, 2012:

@anonymous: From what I understand, it's caused by severe trauma and/or damage to the frontal lobe. It's unlikely that your cleanliness caused this. I'm in the same boat with my daughter. She's not quite squalid, but sees nothing wrong with living in filthy, disorderly conditions.

anonymous on November 18, 2012:

You can't imagine how glad I am that I found information about Diogenes Syndrome online. For years, I thought my mother was just a vindictive, lazy, negative person. Knowing that it has biologic causes helps me to understand her better. There is so little information and understanding of this, we, who love and live with sufferers have struggled to understand what's going on. When my mother's home flooded from back up of her septic system, she was left with little choice, but to move. For 3 years, her old house sat abandoned. It was overrun with rodents, especially because it was full of old pizza boxes and lots of places to hide. When she ran out of money, because she spent it all on junk no one else would want, she was forced to sell that home. My sister and I went in an cleaned it, spending $8k of our money in the process, and almost everything had to be thrown away because of exposure to weather, rodents, and mold. We found 8 dead cats among the rubbish. Anything that might've been of value was ruined. The worst part is, now my mother tells everyone we abused her by just taking her stuff without her permission. In her mind, the things are as new as the day she bought them. She just can't get her mind around the fact that they are ruined and no one would want them. In fact, no one did. We tried to sell, but eventually had to pay for almost everything to be removed. It sucks. You just can't win when you are dealing with someone who has this.

anonymous on November 18, 2012:

@dhogueruegh: You obviously don't know anyone with this syndrome, or you have it yourself. You really need to read the article more closely, especially the parts about the harms it creates, including and especially those who are forced to live with them, and about their denial of problems. I can tell you, having to live with my mother, who quite obviously has this syndrome, was pure child abuse. It impacted my life in so many negative ways, I couldn't begin to list them.

Aumlanka on November 08, 2012:

Thank you for this lens. It was actually educational to read about some the the similarities and differences of hording and squalor syndrome.

OUTFOXprevention1 on October 30, 2012:


anonymous on October 23, 2012:

@anonymous: My daughter lives like this too, with her husband and son. They get up from the table at night, don't even wipe it off, leave dishes with dried on food overnight or longer. Would like to correspond if you're interested.

anonymous on October 09, 2012:

I have one daughter who lives in squallor and another daughter whose not as bad but borderline. Otherwise they're normal and very gregarious people, but it just makes me sad as I think when they come home after a day's work their home should be a sanctuary where they can relax and unwind. Though they seem to be able to relax amongst all the dirt and clutter. I've now given up trying to clean for them when I visit.

anonymous on August 30, 2012:

Please, I know people who are desperate for help, they have clutter and bedbugs. The building management is sending an exterminator but they are unable to bag/box/sort/discard their possessions. They have very little money and live in Queens, NY. They both have physical and mental disabilities. Is there any help available?

anonymous on July 23, 2012:

@anonymous: my daughter lives like this along with her room mates. it makes me so sad. i was the complete opposite and i wonder if its my fault somehow. is there nothing that i can do??

CCGAL on July 16, 2012:

I had no idea this was a diagnosis ... amazing information here.

dhogueruegh on July 07, 2012:

Another convenient label for satanist shrinks. SOme people are untidy and messy, it doesn't make them loony. I know a poor guy whp was arthritic, refused held from the SS- and was then made homeless (his home sold, profits to local government) OH come on- sane adults need be allowed to live as they please- this is house-work police in action - I hate overly tidy people, they are ANAL- this is nothing but money for shrinks

Joanne Reid from Prince Edward Island/Arizona on June 05, 2012:

Thank you for this lens -- fascinating topic and something that I have struggled to deal with. I used to be a declutterer.

PennyHowe on May 07, 2012:

Thanks for a unique and very interesting lens. You have added to my education today. I think I am a bit of a hoarder, but nothing like you mention here. Plus, I know I can get rid of it if and when I want to. A very sad syndrome that I would not wish on anyone.

anonymous on April 25, 2012:

I know someone like this and I have tried to help them but once I leave things get bad again. Money is not the issue and this I think is a mental disorder separate from hoarding. They were not raised to live in squalor but choose to. Not cleaning the tub or toilet or bringing out trash invites mice and ants. Not doing the laundry makes it smell bad especially in the bedroom. A beautiful home is completely wrecked in a few short years. Sad...

Rose Jones on April 05, 2012:

Very informative, it is great to shine some light on this troubling condition.

JaneEyre9999 on March 25, 2012:

Wow, this was enlightening. I've known people like this.

anonymous on March 11, 2012:

How sad it is that there are people who suffer this way from squalor syndrome. The youtube video made my skin crawl. I feel sorry for those who have this disease. Before reading your lens, I was familiar with hoarding, but didn't know there was a separate syndrome for people living in squalor. How terrible it must be for those suffering from both! Thanks for sharing this lens with us.

Linrow on February 19, 2012:

Very good article, that is interesting and informative. Well done!

chromegrrrl on February 06, 2012:

I didn't realize there was a distinction between squalor syndrome and hoarding-- thank you for making that clear. Lots of great information on this lens.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on December 03, 2011:

I know a couple individuals with this syndrome and dust mites and other breathing hardships are very common in homes of this condition. (Wish I could get my husband to have a little less stuff too). Fantastic article on Squalor or hoarding syndrome. Very well written.

beckyf on November 13, 2011:

This was a very interesting lens.

yayas on October 19, 2011:

This is scary. I have often wondered how some people can live under such conditions. Thank you for clearing it up. I had no idea there was such a disease, but it certainly does explain a lot.

GreenfireWiseWo on August 02, 2011:

Really informative. Thank you.

sociopath-free on July 09, 2011:

Very helpful information for those with this condition.

Othercatt on June 11, 2011:

Blessed by a Squid Angel.

anonymous on June 06, 2011:

Great lens. Thanks for allowing me to visit.

anonymous on March 24, 2011:

I have a family member who may have squalor condition. She has a job, friends, stinks real bad and I snuck into her house tonight while she was away--disgusting I counted over 150 dog and cat feces on the floor and mould all through the bathroom. She has 1 dog and 4 cats but doesn't have all that many possessions so she's not a hoarder. Very puzzling and worried

anonymous on January 14, 2011:

@sandralynnsparks: Unfortunately my boyfriend's mother has this and her home is tame compaired to the uploaded You Tube video listed on this site. She is lives in a large house with rooms of filth upon filth and she also hoards animals..mainly sheep and cats. She is very aggressive, obstinate controlling and difficult. She elects to eat mouldy food and is extremely difficult when she people attempt to stop her doing it. Her kitchen is like a living horror film and in other rooms rubbish is 6 foot high with pathways between it, and water runs down the walls. The absolute worst of it is not her home which on Xmas day had no heating, no electric and no water due to burst pipes, but, the fact that she controls her son who farms her farm. She terrifies his previous girlfriends, sometimes spitting at them, and refuses to let go of him in the saddest most controlling manner - both emotionally and financially - Does anyone have similar experiences on the controlling side of other adults by Diogenic Syndrome individuals - Your help is much appreciated !! x

Eliza Rayner from Boulder, Colorado on November 30, 2010:

Interesting to read about these syndromes. I think Oprah had a few people on who had some of these conditions and when they went in to clean up the place and help the people it was very interesting. I especially enjoyed the personal individual stories you wrote about. Thank you for sharing.

Jeanette from Australia on November 24, 2010:

My word. How tragic. But what an interesting read.

Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on November 08, 2010:

Hm, this is something I'd never heard of before. I've certainly known people who've chosen to live a simple lifestyle, like hobos, but not what you've described here.

sandralynnsparks on October 06, 2010:

Thank you for doing this. I've had to deal with living with people who had this, and it's very, very difficult...

Seeking Pearls from Pueblo West on April 07, 2010:

Really interesting lens about Squalor Syndrome. I did home health care for a period of time and what really disheartened me was the conditions of so many of these people.

MargoPArrowsmith on March 30, 2010:

Well, at first I was worried, but then I looked at your pictures and at my house and realized I am not quite there yet!

That was my first thought, but seriously, you did a great job on an important subject

5* and fanned

anonymous on March 25, 2010:

@Addy Bell: I'm also saw a trailer on collyer brothers on. Really that was close to heart.

NC Shepherd on December 05, 2009:

I saw the film "Grey Gardens." I was fascinated.

Addy Bell on November 10, 2009:

Really educational. i think I heard about the Collyer brothers on the radio recently... maybe there's a new book out about them? Anyway, nice lens.

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