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Understanding Squalor Syndrome


Senile Squalor Syndrome

Squalor syndrome is also called Diogenes syndrome. Other less used names are Havisham syndrome, Plyushkin syndrome or messy house syndrome. It is a condition where people elect to live a squalid life of deprivation. It is not known exactly why they are like this. The difference between them and poverty stricken people is that they have other options but live this lifestyle. Individuals who are unable to take care of themselves and find themselves in squalor do not have the syndrome, the difference is choice. But saying they choose this might not be really correct. They have a disease and find it impossible to live a normal life. They can get help to manage their symptoms but they will always have the disease.

Inside The Collyer Brothers House

Inside The Collyer Brothers House

Squalor Syndrome or Diogenes Syndrome

Found Mostly in Elderly But Also in Young

Squalor syndrome is a malady in which people live a life with rubbish, vermin, and social withdrawal. It can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary Diogenes syndrome has no mental disorder component . To be considered secondary the person will have dementia, extreme grief, schizophrenia or a mental disability.

This syndrome is 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 and start taking on this strange behavior. Sometimes the aloof or negative behavior is present when they are young and they purposely estrange themselves from others. Their attitude is that this is the way they live and no one should interfere with it.

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 really will not be very receptive.

Because of their lack of cleanliness, the homes are full of bugs and rodents which can impact on neighbors and cause their lack of social calls. Besides not getting visitors they try not to call repairman, but if they do it will be an unpleasant work space. The windows will usually be kept covered to prevent people from seeing inside and calling the authorities. Vermin and smells can find its way to neighbors especially if they are in apartments or in close proximity. Bed bugs, fleas and rats can migrate and cause havoc to the unsuspecting neighborhood. In order to eradicate these pests everyone must be on board. The person with the syndrome will be very uncooperative therefor preventing any meaningful response and alienating the neighbors further.

Money is hoarded and not spent on even basic needs. This is also known separately as being a miser. They isolate themselves from people, live in filth, usually do not seek medical or any other type of help. If they have a known illness they have medication non-adherence not trusting the doctor and believing they know better.

Living with Squalor and Hoarding Syndromes

Hoarding also occurs in concert with squalor syndrome. One sort of leads to the other, depending on the type of hoarder they are. Some hoarders try to keep their living area as clean as possible and their collections neat and orderly until they get overwhelmed. Hoarders might also be sociable away from their home. Ill health can be, but not always a contributing factor in hoarders losing control of their stockpile. They may be unable to part with their possessions yet unable to manage them anymore. Maybe about 10% of hoarders present with squalor syndrome. It seems after the hoarding gets out of hand it can become a squalor situation. If these people are in control of others, like a dependent adult, children or animals then they too are condemned to live in this manner whether they want to or not. This is considered an abusive situation.

Early Signs Of Social Breakdown

Social Breakdown Syndrome

Social breakdown or social breakdown syndrome is another term used for individuals who live as they do. There can be many early signs of this problem. A history of unkempt appearance and untidy house keeping might be a beginning. Aloof antisocial personality is something that can be seen early on also. In some settings this would be seen as a "fiercely independent" person whose privacy should be respected. This would be seen as just the way they are. These individuals usually are not close to any family and don't have any significant relationships with anyone else. 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 this frame work they isolate themselves from the rest of the household. The majority live alone and are widowed, divorced or single. 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. They don't consider themselves lonely and seem not to care about the self imposed isolation.

Is There Help For People Living With Squalor Syndrome?

There is no cure but there is help

There are newspaper accounts of homeless people found with bank books showing they had access to money yet they were living a piteous life on the streets. Social services sometimes get involved with court orders to spend the persons money on needed things. They might be put under guardianship in order to force them to get medical care, fix their home up from safety or sanitation violations. Unfortunately we read accounts of how either family or court appointed guardians steal their charges money, don't help them while making the situation worse.

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.

It is best for all if they can be helped and still reside in their own home. If family is available then they should be encouraged to try to keep in contact. If not than local community members could fill the social gap. Unfortunately it is shown that even after an intervention the prognosis is not good and they continue with the same behavior. Some can function on a reasonable level. Their home and person will never be clean but "reasonably" clean. With them we can't expect a cure only enough compromise where their house is not condemned or they are not evicted from their apartment.

If the circumstances call for placement in a long term facility, they still carry the same 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. If they go back to the community they usually continue to live as before unless someone is monitoring them. The idea is to focus on the important things like encouraging them to wash or bathe, change clothes, brush teeth, take medicine. This might include bringing meals and someone helping with cleaning. They can't reach what we consider normal standards but can have some improvements in order to stay independent.

The Difference Between Squalor Syndrome And Compulsive Hoarding

Some Individuals Have Both

The difference between squalor syndrome and compulsive hoarding is some compulsive hoarders do not live in squalor. Granted, they live among clutter but some do take care of themselves somewhat. Some hoarders try and 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.This is a part of their neglectful behavior. Not all of them live with mounds of hoarded stuff. Some live with minimal possessions in substandard conditions. Missing in their home might be the basic of necessities like a stove or refrigerator. With squalor syndrome the operative word is squalor and in compulsive hoarding the operative word is hoarding and of course we see people with both.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 people who keep a lot of pets that do not keep themselves or their pets in this kind of situation, they do not fit the criteria of squalor syndrome or hoarder.

It seems that the hoarding aspect of squalor syndrome garners the most attention. The individuals who do not hoard can live much longer 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. The harm they do is basically to themselves and more hidden.

The Collyer Brothers

Squalor Syndrome, Miser Syndrome and Compulsive Hoarding

The Collyer brothers were hoarders, misers and had squalor syndrome. They collected massive amounts of items 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. Both lived in a self imposed isolation of fear with their mountains of papers, car parts, furniture with dust, dirt and vermin. They were afraid someone would steal their "treasures". Robbery attempts were cited as one reason the burglar trap that killed one of the brothers was established inside the mansion

A Case Of Squalor And Self-Neglect

Chronic Lung Disease And Diogenes Syndrome

While working 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, 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 infested the ward with fleas and ticks.

We assumed at the time that he was that way because his illness 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 pretty much 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, with the dust, dirt, and clutter. It is well documented that indoor pollution like dust mites, 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.

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 faces looking for an honest man. He was also notable for living in what mostly is described as a barrel or tub in the middle of Athens and his great wit.

He was part of the Cynic school of thought which 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 and bark and also refer to him as that. Diogenes is said to have responded to them basically intimating his preference to dogs and their behavior 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 natural as possible. That 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 in public 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. Tales abound of him and famous and not so famous men of his day conversing and interacting. 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.


Diogenes and Squalor Syndrome

Living In Squalor

Famous Cases of Hoarding and Squalor Syndrome

Famous people with Hoarding and Squalor Syndrome

Ida Mayfield Wood -(1838-1932) She lived many years in the New York Herald hotel with her sister and her supposed daughter. They lived with 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 called by some people 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 a pretty and social young lady she is said to never have left her home again, Instead continually wearing her wedding gown and letting 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) British writer, eccentric and actor 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,''

Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (Big Edie) and daughter Edith Bouvier Beale (Little Edie)- Were the cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and 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.

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, 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 home made booby traps 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 it was notices that 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, with no proof, that his later deranged behavior stemmed from stage three syphilis.

He is said to have given his last interview in 1958. A once social and public person he became more isolated from people including his wife, actress Jean Peters. From about 1961-71 at the time of their divorce they were living apart. She would only say she had not seen him for a few years before their divorce. By 1968 he became more and more reclusive and living in seclusion by 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 lbs.

Links on Diogenes Syndrome

  • 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.
  • Self Neglect
    Self-neglect is a general term used to describe a vulnerable adult living in a way that puts his or her health, safety, or well-being at risk.
  • 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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