Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders


Although hoarding was traditionally considered to be a symptom of OCD, considerable evidence suggests that hoarding represents an entirely different disorder (Mataix-Cols et al., 2010). People with hoarding disorder cannot bear to part with personal possessions, regardless of how valueless or useless these possessions are. As a result, these individuals accumulate excessive amounts of usually worthless items that clutter their living areas (Figure). Often, the quantity of cluttered items is so excessive that the person is unable use his kitchen, or sleep in his bed. People who suffer from this disorder have great difficulty parting with items because they believe the items might be of some later use, or because they form a sentimental attachment to the items (APA, 2013). Importantly, a diagnosis of hoarding disorder is made only if the hoarding is not caused by another medical condition and if the hoarding is not a symptom of another disorder (e.g., schizophrenia) (APA, 2013).

A photograph shows a small room containing tall piles of boxes, overflowing with papers, binders, and various other possessions. Much of the furniture and floor are concealed beneath these other objects.
Those who suffer from hoarding disorder have great difficulty in discarding possessions, usually resulting in an accumulation of items that clutter living or work areas. (credit: “puuikibeach”/Flickr)