Whether you are called a hoarder or a clutterer, the meaning, from the average person’s point of view, is still the same. They see you as someone who amasses clutter to the extent that it becomes a major problem, and maybe even a potential health hazard. With so many loose things lying around the place, including flammables like paper, and certain other materials, any fire hazard risk is greatly intensified.
But in actual fact there is a difference between someone who hoards things and someone who collects clutter.
There are millions of ordinary people who collect clutter, but their situation is not psychotic. The typical clutterer is someone who collects clutter through habit rather than through compulsion. They are probably quite capable of clearing up their clutter give the right stimulus or incentive to do so. Because their situation is no actually psychotic, it is therefore quite unlikely that the state of clutter in their home would ever get to the scale as to seriously interfere with either their living space, or the way they lived. They may often be lazy people who do not have very high standards of living. Given the correct motivation, they will reduce their state of clutter from time to time, and given the right coaching ,they are quite capable of being retrained if they are willing to do so,
The hoarder however, is a different kettle of fish altogether. A real hoarder is a psychotic person who suffers from what is called an OCD, or, obsessive, compulsive, disorder. It is a recognized clinic diagnosis. It is estimated to affect approximately 1% of the population. The compulsion to hoard becomes quite manic, and is certain to get to the sort of levels where normal living space becomes taken over by clutter, which is not only extremely untidy, but also ca be quite hazardous as far as fire risk goes. Sometimes even the trash does not get thrown out. Their home is not a place that any normal person would want to visit.
Just what causes people to become hoarders is not really known. There are many reasons, from a simple want to not throw away certain items that hold some sort of attraction or fascination, to a totally illogical want to hoard items that appear to have no understandable intrinsic value or use.
A hoarder can be quite manic and may get seriously disturbed and agitated at the mere suggestion that they should clear out the smallest amount of their clutter; and this is why it is only with professional help that the majority of these people can be treated.