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Compulsive Hoarding is No Laughing Matter

by on Jan 22, 2007

Ever feel like your house is filling up with crap? Do you have trouble getting rid of things? Well, things could be worse:

Compulsive hoarding is a dangerous psychological condition.



And while the images of compulsive hoarders’ homes can strike us as humorous by their sheer absurdity, this is a serious pyschological condition with dramatic consequences: 


ABC News ran a piece this weekend on the psychology of compulsive hoarding (often correlated with obsessive-compulsive disorder). What was most interesting to me was evidence cited in the report showing hoarders have a reduced ability to group items into meaningful categories. What this means, essentially, is that for some compulsive hoarders, every item belongs in its own category, so it’s almost impossible for them to organize their belongings and make decisions about what deserves to be saved and what doesn’t.

On the other hand, hoarders show an unusually high capacity to locate spefic items; usually describing their location very precisely, and in graphical terms (i.e. three inches from the left on the middle table in the living room).


More resources:

Wikipedia – Compulsive Hoarding

The Psychology of Compulsive Hoarding

Langley Collyer: The Mystery Hoarder of Harlem

University of Minnesota’s Impulse Control Disorders Clinic