To what extent is hoarding affecting your life?

Hoarding syndrome is identified through the observation of 3 characteristics:

  • difficulty discarding,
  • excessive clutter,
  • excessive acquisition.

“… it is clear that what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine the line is difficult to draw. We feel and act about certain things that are ours very much as we feel and act about ourselves.”

William James (1890) in the principles of psychology, p. 291.

Read more about Hoarding Disorder here.

Here is a test to evaluate the extent of the behavior in an individual. The purpose of all tests on this site is for education. Do not use this as a diagnosis of any sort.

If you or any person feels like the hoarding limits your daily function or affects your relationships, do seek the services of a licensed psychotherapist.

Experiences of Grief after a Loss of a Loved Person

What does a person go through when he/she loses a very dear person? This person could be a parent, spouse, child, friend or even pet.  Every person’s experience is unique, because every relationship is unique. In order to understand what people may go through after the death of someone special, here is a questionnaire that I found.

How is the experience of grief described?

This is a set of questions that one can reflect upon when accessing the grief experience.

Since the death of your loved one, how often did you:

      1. Think that you should go see a doctor?
      2. Experience feeling sick?
      3. Experience trembling, shaking, or twitching?
      4. Experience light-headedness, dizziness, or fainting?
      5. Experience nervousness?
      6. Think that people were uncomfortable offering their condolences to you?
      7. Avoid talking about the negative or unpleasant parts of your relationship?
      8. Feel like you just could not make it through another day?
      9. Feel like you would never be able to get over the death?
      10. Feel anger or resentment toward your loved one after the death?
      11. Question why your loved one had to die?
      12. Find you couldn’t stop thinking about how the death occurred?
      13. Think that your loved one’s time to die had not yet come?
      14. Find yourself not accepting the fact that the death happened?
      15. Try to find a good reason for the death?
      16. Feel avoided by friends?
      17. Think that others didn’t want you to talk about the death?
      18. Feel like no one cared to listen to you?
      19. Feel that neighbors and in-laws did not offer enough concern?
      20. Feel like a social outcast?
      21. Think people were gossiping about you or your loved one?
      22. Feel like people were probably wondering about what kind of personal problems you and your loved one had experienced?
      23. Feel like others may have blamed you for the death?
      24. Feel like the death somehow reflected negatively on you or your family?
      25. Feel somehow stigmatized by the death?
      26. Think of times before the death when you could have made your loved one’s life more pleasant?
      27. Wished that you hadn’t said or done certain things during your relationship?
      28. Feel like there was something very important you wanted to make up to your loved one?
      29. Feel like maybe you didn’t care enough about your loved one?
      30. Feel somehow guilty after the death of your loved one?
      31. Feel like your loved one had some kind of complaint against you at the time of the death?
      32. Feel that, had you somehow been a different person, your loved one would not have died?
      33. Feel like you had made your loved one unhappy long before the death?
      34. Feel like you missed an early sign which may have indicated to you that your loved one was not going to be alive much longer?
      35. Feel like problems you and your loved one had together contributed to an untimely death?
      36. Avoid talking about the death of your loved one?
      37. Feel uncomfortable revealing the cause of the death?
      38. Feel embarrassed about the death?
      39. Feel uncomfortable about meeting someone who knew you and your loved one?
      40. Not mention the death to people you met casually?
      41. Feel like your loved one chose to leave you?
      42. Feel deserted by your loved one?
      43. Feel that the death was somehow a deliberate abandonment of you?
      44. Feel that your loved one never considered what the death might do to you?
      45. Sense some feeling that your loved one had rejected you by dying?
      46. Feel like you just didn’t care enough to take better care of yourself?
      47. Find yourself totally preoccupied while you were driving?
      48. Worry that you might harm yourself?
      49. Think of ending your own life?
      50. Intentionally try to hurt yourself?
      51. Wonder about your loved one’s motivation for not living longer?
      52. Feel like your loved one was somehow getting even with you by dying?
      53. Feel that you should have somehow prevented the death?
      54. Tell someone that the cause of death was something different than what it really was?
      55. Feel that the death was a senseless and wasteful loss of life?

Finding the Answers

The questions, answered in the affirmative within the first 2 years of loss of a loved one, reflects the natural response of grief. After a longer period of time, the feelings should subside. If feelings of grief develop into depression, seeking counseling can be a life saver.

Seeking a balance in allowing oneself to grief, and then to slowly move on with living a life without the loved one is an act of taking responsibility for one’s own survival. That is a matter of individual choice, and freedom. Finding resources to survive loss is part of the act of responsibility. A good resource one  can achieve for oneself is to find someone who would listen. This person may be in the form of another family member, friend, counselor, priest or psychotherapist.

Bibliography

Barrett, T. W., & Scott, T. B. (1989). Development of the grief experience questionnaire. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior19(2), 201-215.

Test: Fear of Being Judged By Others

One of the pillars of social anxiety disorder is the fear of being judged.  This test is certainly not diagnostic. It is meant for education purpose. If you have debilitating issues regarding social anxiety, do seek a professional’s services.

The fear of being judged is a positive aspect of human nature. This instinct holds us in good form within social groups in which we need to belong.  The balance between being fearful and being confident is necessary for daily functioning. Just as one can be impeded by exaggerated fear of being judged, there are also disorders in personality  (the extreme example is antisocial personality disorder) whereby no sense of fear or conscience is present.

Social Anxiety Test

This is a questionnaire to help construct the definition of social anxiety.  Being anxious in social situations is a “normal” human condition. As social beings, we feel the need to get along with others. Being in communities gives us a sense of belonging and safety. The flip-side of having such need to belong to group or groups, is having to behave in manners that is conducive to being an accepted member in the groups. Social anxiety can become a “disorder” if it pervades our minds, keeping us from normal functioning as a happy person. Having fears of being judged by other’s for example keeps us from being in contact from other people, and the result is self-imposed isolation and loneliness.

In extreme cases of social anxiety, the individual loses all interest in stepping out of the home.  Sometimes severity of symptoms get worse with age. These factors vary individually.

Psychotherapy works for social anxiety through a 2 step process:

  • behavioral change : client is motivated to make baby steps, like making eye contact in conversation, leaving the house, envisioning a change. This measure helps the patient active in making change, but does not necessarily solve the underlying problem.
  • emotional awareness: client is supported in being aware of negative feelings (of e.g. fear / panic / loss etc.) that underlie the anxiety. This method provides for lasting alleviation of the distress.

Group therapy is recommended for clients who have progressed in individual therapy or who have very mild anxiety.

The goal of therapy in this situation is to enable the client to analyze the root of his/her distress, overcome setbacks, and learn new behaviors that would turn into second nature.

The test below is by no means diagnostic, but rather educational. If you or anyone you know find the self having debilitating issues regarding social anxiety, do seek a professional’s services.

 

 

Are You in a Relationship with Psychopathy

This is not a test for diagnosing people as psychopaths. It is, rather, a test for you, if you are in a relationship that feels confusing, and unpleasant. If the person you are living or working with sends you conflicting vibes: ecstatic to be in this relationship, being put on a pedestal on one hand, and being thrown into the ditch on another.

Sometimes it helps victims of abuse to have a name for it. Sometimes it could just be that the other person is being him/herself, and you have your own unresolved psychological issues. Whatever your reason may be, if you are here to use this test, I hope it is insightful.

Alexithymia Quiz: How to Tell if You are in a Relationship with Someone with No Feelings

You may wonder what is the significance of knowing this: is my spouse / boss / colleague / friend / sibling someone who happens to be alexithymic? Someone who has literally no feelings?

We are not all the same. In fact we are often blind to the people we live with, to their personality and character traits, because we live within our own personality biases. Without psychotherapeutic work, we are often not aware of the fact that we see and feel the world differently from the people around us. That we also have a tendency to assume that the other person understands us and vice versa.

Alexithymia is not uncommon. It is assumed that about 10% of the population is alexithymic. With awareness through psychotherapy, one may get to realize that one is or had been living with persons who are unable to identify and describe emotions in the self.  This condition is seen as dysfunctional because it leaves the person un-empathic, and the  people around the sufferers often get hurt.

Alexithyma proves to be prominent in a number of clinical disorders (e.g., somatoform disorders, panic disorders, depression with dominance of vital and somatic symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], and eating disorders).  Extent of Alexithymia is also significant to outcome in the treatment of these disorders.

Psychological questionnaires used to measure Alexithymia include: Observer Alexithymia Scale (Haviland et.al, 2001) and the the Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire (Vorst et.al, 2001).

Reference

Haviland, M. G., Warren, W. L., Riggs, M. L., & Gallacher, M. (2001). Psychometric properties of the Observer Alexithymia Scale in a clinical sample. Journal of Personality Assessment, 77(1), 176-186.

Helmes, E., McNeill, P. D., Holden, R. R., & Jackson, C. (2008). The construct of alexithymia: Associations with defense mechanisms. Journal of clinical psychology, 64(3), 318-331.

Vorst, H. C., & Bermond, B. (2001). Validity and reliability of the Bermond–Vorst alexithymia questionnaire. Personality and individual differences, 30(3), 413-434.

Quiz: How to Identify Alexithymia in a Person

Note: this is a basic quiz and not to be used as diagnosis of yourself or the other person. If you suspect that the condition affects your psycho-social functioning, please consult a mental health professional.

Does he/she:

Psychological Test: Hypomania, Bipolar or Depression

Hypomania is, as the term implies, a minor form of mania. The occurrence of hypomania is more common than realized. As in a case study described Kets de Vries’ Reflections on Character and Leadershiphypomanic episodes are very common among people in our lives known to be exceeding high achievers, leaders and colleagues. Read case study here.

We may even be one of the many who “suffer” hypomanic episodes too. I put “suffer” in inverted commas because the episodes of hypomania do not feel like suffering. It is exhilarating and productive. So why are we concerned with hypomania?

Documentary about Bipolar Disorder:

Episodes of hypomania almost inadvertently leads the person to long spells of depression. These mood swings creates instability in the lives of the individual and strains relationships. In crisis situations, hypomania develops into mania, and depression leads to addictive or even suicidal behavior.

Here is a short questionnaire for self-reflection / reflection of the other. This is, however, not a diagnostic test. If you feel that your mood swings and/or that of your family members are affecting your lives, contact a mental health professional.