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Ask Dr. DombeckAsk Dr. Dombeck:
Psychotherapy and Mental Health Questions

Trashed House

Fri, Oct 15th 1999

I have a 62 year old male family member who has not let anyone into his home since his youngest child left (approximately 13 years ago). In that time the house has been filled with useless items obtained at garage sales and flea markets as well as trash associated with day to day living. He has been widowed for nearly 25 years. He has had one serious relationship since his wife's death that ended in part, because of issues related to his impotence. He maintains relationships with his immediate family members and several long time friends but his interaction with us is sometimes belligerent and always on his own terms. He also has a tendency to be very cynical, assuming people in power (especially lawyers, politicians and CEOs)are intent on taking advantage. It just recently came to our family's attention that his home is virtually uninhabitable although he continues to reside there. He travels often, admittedly to avoid being at home. Upon our being informed of how serious his living conditions had become, we have begun working with him to seek out psychiatric and psychological help. He is compliant in regards to taking his medication (Prozac) but has not made an effort to maintain psychological appointments. In an effort to continue to work with him to change his lifestyle (which he admits he wants to do) I am seeking out information and support for his disorder. I'm having trouble though, determining if his problems are anxiety and/or depression specific or if there is a separate classification for individuals who, like him, have literally turned their living quarters into a garbage dump. Please advise!

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