What is Hoarding?

  • Acquisition of, and failure to use or discard, a large number of seemingly useless items that render living spaces sufficiently cluttered, precluding activities for which spaces were designed.
  • Also called syllogomania, disposophobia, and Plyushkin syndrome.
  • A ‘pack rat’ or ‘junkaholic’ places sentimental value on amassing array of generally worthless objects.
  • 1-2% of American population, tending older but from wide range of socioeconomic, racial, and educational backgrounds.
  • Fear of throwing things out linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
  • Two types are bibliomania and animal hoarding.
  • Motivated by similar compulsion and often overlapping with kleptomania, drug addiction, and over-eating.
  • Also linked to Impulse Control Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
  • Preparation for all possible eventualities, heightened sense of item responsibility.
  • Sufferers generally don’t recognize problem and its seriousness. Prefer to live in cluttered space than give up possessions.
  • Although somewhat treatable, cleaning hoarder’s house without permission does not stop hoarding.
  • July 2007 study in Behaviour Research and Therapy: cognitive-behavioral therapy worked with 50% of patients, regardless of position on 5-level hoarding scale.