Compulsive Hoarding

Individuals who suffer from Compulsive Hoarding have great difficulty making decisions of any sort, this being most evident regarding decisions about saving and organizing possessions. Compulsive Hoarders have difficulty combining similar objects into meaningful categories for filing and/or for storage, perhaps because they perceive each possession as unique and irreplaceable. They demonstrate emotional attachments to possessions that are different from, or at least more extreme than nonhoarders, and they also show excessive sentimental attachments to seemingly meaningless objects. For the compulsive hoarder, possessions seem to provide a sense of continuity, safety, and a comforting quality. When attempting to discard or organized items, thoughts about the cost of discarding it overwhelms the individual who feels compelled to collect items because of the remote chance that they might be of use in the future. They do not experience this dilemma, or the correlated anxiety, when saving possessions. As a result, possessions rapidly accumulate and frequently their homes become engulfed by these items sometimes to the point where pathways need to be made. Functional spaces in the home are lost due to the clutter (e.g., chairs and desks can not be utilized because they are used to store possessions, kitchen counters can not be used to prepare food because of the clutter, etc). The compulsive hoarder usually feels overwhelmed and embarrassed by the excessive clutter.