compulsive hoarding

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compulsive hoarding2016-12-27T21:06:13+00:00

compulsive hoarding 

compulsive hoarding image from New Medical Terms

compulsive hoarding


A pattern of abnormal behaviour characterised by excessive acquisition of and unwillingness to discard large quantities of an array of objects which cover living spaces in the home, causing significant distress, functional impairment, economic burden and adverse effects on the hoarder’s friends and family.

Significant hoarding can limit normal activities of daily living, including cooking, cleaning, movement in the home, and sleeping.

Health risks Risk of fire, falling, poor sanitation–e.g., rat, roach and other vermin infestations.

Pathological hoarding is included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–DSM 5 (2013). 

Diagnostic criteria 

• Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of the value others may attribute to these possessions.

• Difficulty is due to strong urges to save items and/or distress associated with discarding

• Symptoms result in the accumulation of a large number of possessions that fill up and clutter active living areas of the home or workplace to the extent that their intended use is no longer possible. Decluttering only occurs through the interventions of third parties–e.g., family members, cleaners, authorities.

• Symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).

• Symptoms are not due to a general medical condition–e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease.

• Symptoms are not attributable to another mental disorder (see below examples)

    – Obsessions: obsessive-compulsive disorder

    – Decreased energy: major depressive disorder

    – Delusions: schizophrenia and other psychoses

    – Cognitive deficits: dementia

    – Restricted interests: autism spectrum disorder

    – Food storing: Prader–Willi syndrome 

Synonyms Pack rat syndrome, packratting, pathological collecting


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