MUSEUM OF MODERN JUNK: The CAGE questionnaire. Assessing your problem.

Precontemplation.  It means you don’t really believe you have a problem.  Perhaps the previous entry helped you get there.  Maybe not.  Here is a tool that might help.  It is called the CAGE alcohol screening test.  It has not been proven to help self-identify other addictions, but I think we can use it to become self-aware.  Here are the questions, modified to apply to a clutter problem (the original had 4 questions but I added more):

CAGE Questions

  1. Have you ever felt you should cut down on the amount of shopping, dumpster diving, bringing home “found objects”, shopping at thrift stores, shopping at all?
  2. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your clutter and lifestyle?  Have they threatened interventions, clean-outs, calling Adult Protective Services, Child Protection, or threatened divorce or moving out?  Have these things already happened?
  3. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about the state of your home, car, and yard?  Do you feel sad, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed or desperate about your cluttering
  4. Have you ever gone in search of treasures first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or toget rid guilt feelings?
  5. Do you crave the slight high or feeling of good-will when you buy a “perfect treasure” for a friend or family (then it “doesn’t count”), or a deal on a piece of furniture that you can fix up and resell (free is best!)?
  6. Do you hang out at thrift stores or discount stores like some people hang out at bars?  Do you secretly feel you are better than alcoholics or drug abusers because all you do is collect things?
  7. Do have a scheduled time or day that you regularly thrifting.   Does everyone at the local thrift store know you by your name?
  8. Are you making yourself into the curator of our times and our paraphernalia?  Do you think that if you don’t save certain treasures no one else will and they will be gone forever?

So, that is your homework.   I do not want your journey to the contemplation stage to stymie you or block that wonderful coasting that happens when you climb the hill of pre-contemplation to contemplation.  Get to work answering these questions and I will see you when you come back!


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