Hoarding Disorder is characterized by excessive acquisition of things, difficulty discarding anything, and living with excessive clutter under conditions best characterized as gross disorganization. Basically, the individuals usually begin acquiring things during their teenage years and often experience great pleasure, even euphoria, from shopping or otherwise collecting various items. Their homes or apartments may become almost impossible to live in. Most of these individuals don’t consider that they have a problem until family members or authorities insist they seek help.
1. Extraordinary strong emotional attachment to possessions.
2. Exaggerated desire for control over possessions.
3. Marked deficits in deciding when a possession is worth keeping or not.
Shopping or collecting things may be a response to feeling down or depressed and is sometimes called, facetiously, “Retail Therapy.” But unlike most people who like to shop or collect, these individuals then experience strong anxiety and distress about throwing anything away, because everything has either some potential use or sentimental value in their minds, or simply becomes an extension of their own identity. Hoarding behavior can begin early in life and get worse with each passing decade.
Treatment to Hoarding Disorder teaches people to assign different values to object and to reduce anxiety about throwing away items that are somewhat less valued. Preliminary results are promising but results are more modest than those achieved with OCD.
David H. Barlow, BOSTON UNIVERSITY
V. Mark Durand, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA- ST. PETERSBERG
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