Chronic disorganisation is a term used by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization but is not a medical term or a mental health issue. It was first spoken about by Judith Kohlberg, founding member of the National Study Group for Chronic Disorganization, later to become the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.
It describes disorganisation that has
- persisted for a long period of time
- negatively impacted a person’s quality of life
- not improved despite self-help efforts
- and is expected to continue into the future.
Chronic disorganisation is different from situational disorganisation, which may occur due to a life event such as grief and loss such as bereavement or job loss, similarly, with occasional periods of disorganisation, such as when a person is studying for an exam at the expense of other activities.
Impact on daily living include falling behind, such as paying bills, making medical appointments, and failing to turn to appointments on time. It can impact both having an organised space and being time organised.
Many factors are associated with chronic disorganisation, including but not limited to:
- Brain-based conditions (ADHD, anxiety, depression, executive functioning)
- Communication patterns (inability to say no, decision-making, problem-solving)
- Living spaces (quantity of things vs places to store)
- Systems (storage, system, habits)
- Physical challenges (impaired mobility, fatigue, sleep disorder)
- Beliefs and over-attachments to possessions (overvaluing possessions, keeper of memories, parts might be required, might fix it one day)
- Information processing (reliance on seeing things, distractibility, difficulty to organise).
- Behavioural tendencies (over acquiring resources, information, searching for a bargain, self-soothing).
For more information, view the Institute for Challenging Disorganization Introduction to Chronic Disorganization for the Public.