Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Personality Quirks: D is for Disposophobia

Are you a writer looking for some interesting personality traits and quirks to create characters? Or maybe you’re a logophile, someone who loves words, and wants to collect more of them. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.

Pathological hoarders are disposophobic. They have an irrational fear of throwing things away. I understand that hoarding is a kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder. They exhibit an excess of acquisitiveness even when they put themselves and others at risk for disease or hazard. The items are typically valueless, but the disposophobic cannot discard them.

The etymology of disposophobia is Greek phobos (fear) and Latin disponere (arrange).

The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization has identified five levels of hoarding:
Level 1: household is standard but disorganized
Level 2: professional organizers are needed to return the household to a standard level and other professional may be needed to deal with the condition
Level 3: professional organizers are needed to return the household to a standard level and highly trained professionals are needed to deal with the condition
Level 4: professional organizers are needed to return the household to a standard level and a team of highly trained professional service providers are needed to deal with the condition
Level 5: household and the person require intervention from a wide-range of agencies (including social services, mental health, building/zoning, fire/safety, and legal representatives. The household might be under care of a conservator, in which case that person is part of the team. A professional organizer should never take this level on without a team.

You can already see your characters developing, can’t you? From the mildest form to the most severe you have a lot you can do with this condition. Whenever I have seen TV shows on hoarders, I create their back stories. Those conditions are just ripe with possibilities when you see what they have chosen to hang onto.

In its mildest forms, your disposophobic character can be played for laughs. Heesh is always losing things, has a messy domicile, and can’t keep things organized. Heesh never wants to host the bridge club because it is too overwhelming to get the house ready, and just where did those cards go?

In the more extreme forms, you might have a nephew who is looking to take over Auntie’s estate by having her evicted from an unsafe home and committed to an institution for her mental illness. Or you could have a concerned distant friend or relative call for a wellness check and the responders cannot get into other rooms without a landslide that could injure them or the rodents and roaches might have created a sanitation hazard. Does the friend/family member come to the rescue or has heesh had it since past attempts to clean up have failed?

Can you guess what E will be?

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Disposophobia is a real thing and writers can use it for character development from @RomanceRighter


  1. Disposophobic - That's an interesting character to use in a story, though I have seen a few such people in real life too.

  2. Interesting word. A great way to add some uniqueness for a character.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author