Research on Hoarding as a Disorder

lazy_gardensAugust 8, 2012

people who hoard have a hard time processing information normally, and that when they have to make a decision their brain goes into overdrive -- specifically, those parts that are involved with identifying the relative importance or significance of things.

Here is a link that might be useful: original article

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Great article! Thanks for posting.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 3:36AM
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I had heard once that hoarding is a form of OCD. Obsessive compulsive Disorder. OCD symptoms include behaviors such as constant hand-washing as well as compulsive shopping and being unable to throw out items of no use to you, resulting in clutter and hoarding.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 6:40AM
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Great article, lazygardens. Thanks for posting the link. The author of the study is David Tolin who appeared a number of times on Oprah and wrote the book, "Buried in Treasures."

Jannie, that is what people have long believed. But if you read the article, the brain scans show that, when faced with the task of identifying the relative importance of items, a hoarder's brain response is different than that of someone with OCD. It says that "people who hoard have a hard time processing information normally, and that when they have to make a decision their brain goes into overdrive."

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 8:49AM
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My personal belief is that hoarders have all kinds of reasons why they hoard. I have a lot of "stuff" and not a lot of storage space so my home looks fairly cluttered. for example, I have no furniture that's brand new from a store. I have furniture that was gifted by family and friends, things I found at Goodwill, as well as a table I found in a neighbor's trash. I love books and have them stacked in every bedroom. I don't consider myself to be mentally ill. I just have too many interests and too little time and space. Animal hoarders are like crazy people-who keeps on taking in animals that eat, poop,get sick and die? And then there are those Hoarder shows on TV. Many people hoard because they are depressed due to a divorce or death of a loved one. Seems like they've basically "given up" on keeping their homes neat and clean.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 3:52PM
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I noticed that on the hoarder shows too. So many of them had suffered a huge loss in their life. In some cases it was already somewhat of a problem, but the hoarding got worse after the death or divorce. In those extreme cases there is definitely mental illness involved. I think you can be a "borderline hoarder" and not be mentally ill.
Jannie, I love books too and have a difficult time parting with any of them, especially cookbooks and gardening books.I have partially solved the problem by never buying fiction anymore. I use the library for that. I also have donated quite a few books to my library for their annual booksale. I still have lots of books but they are all neatly shelved and I do use them and enjoy them so I don't consider them junk. Now those hobby magazines that I have stashed away that I no longer do the hobby and never even look at, they are junk and are on my list of things to donate.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 8:55PM
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Thanks for the link, that was an interesting article. I work w/a hoarder, he's def. mentally ill. I watch him squirm when I throw junk mail away. I've watched him go through my trash can & retrieve garbage he 'may be able to use.' He keeps plastic containers cause they're so handy to have around (like dozens of them). His desk hasn't been usable since I hired in, it's literally piled 3 ft high with old phone books, containers, etc. I shudder to imagine his home.

He gave me a lift to the airport recently, had to go on a work trip. He drives an extended cab pickup, with room for himself only. I don't know how he shifted the crap to make room for a passenger, but when we arrived at the airport & he went to get my suitcase from the backseat, junk started falling out all over the pavement. A clown car of crap, old newspapers, a small box labelled & stamped & ready to mail, plastic carryout containers, etc.

Then he ate some chicken salad this week that he had left in the truck overnight. Said it would be ok, it didn't smell bad & we had a low of 65 degrees the night before. Forget the high of 85 during the day....

I have worked w/him for 4 yrs now. I must admit curiosity overcame me last yr & I drove by his address. It looks like there's a tree growing out of the roof of his home. Total squalor. We don't think he has running water at home & his personal hygiene reflects that. I keep a fan on my desk just for when he is nearby, automatically switch it on when he is in my office. We have to complain to the boss when he makes our eyes burn from his stench. I vacillate between pity & frustration with this man. I bet if he had a scan like in the article, it would show a lot of the activity the other hoarders had.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 10:29AM
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Here is another article discussing the study, with commentary from experts.

"This study is very interesting as it demonstrates that brain regions associated with monitoring for errors under conditions of uncertainty are activated when hoarding patients are deciding whether or not to throw out personal items."

In other words, hoarders assign too much value to their possessions, making it difficult or impossible to decide to get rid of them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hoarder study

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 1:14PM
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