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Compulsive Hoarding. Barbara J. Chromy. Definition of Hoarding. No consistent definition of hoarding The term is used in different clinical and non-clinical contexts to describe a broad spectrum of behavioral abnormities (Maier, 2004). Commonly Accepted Definition .

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Compulsive Hoarding

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compulsive hoarding

Compulsive Hoarding

Barbara J. Chromy

definition of hoarding
Definition of Hoarding
  • No consistent definition of hoarding
  • The term is used in different clinical and non-clinical contexts to describe a broad spectrum of behavioral abnormities

(Maier, 2004)

commonly accepted definition
Commonly Accepted Definition
  • The acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be of useless or limited value
definition continued
Definition (continued)
  • Living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed
definition continued1
Definition (continued)
  • Significant distress or impairment in functioning cause by the hoarding

(Frost, Hartl, & Gross)

types of hoarding
Types of Hoarding
  • Scarcity Mentality Hoarder
    • “What if the depression returns?”
  • Frugality Mentality Hoarder
    • Nothing should be wasted
  • Frozen Indecision Hoarder
    • Finds no decision easy

(NSGCD, 2003)

types of hoarding continued
Types of Hoarding(continued)
  • Ordinary Hoarders
    • Primarily objects
  • Animal Hoarders
    • Can have in excess of 300 animals in a home
  • Trash Hoarders
    • Syllogomania
animal hoarding defined
Animal Hoarding Defined
  • HSUS defines an animal hoarder as a person who has more animals than he or she can properly care for
  • A defining characteristic of animal hoarders is their refusal to acknowledge their inability to care for the number of animals they have accumulated

(Simmons, 2006)

  • Little is known about onset and course of compulsive hoarding

Grisham, Frost, Steketee, Kim and Hood (2006)

  • 1.4 to 2 million people in the United States have compulsive hoarding syndrome

(Maidment, 2005; Collingwood, 2006).

  • Hoarding accompanies OCD in 25% to 40% of individuals diagnosed

(Understanding Hoarding, 2005; Seedat and Stein, 2002).

  • 2-3% of the general population has OCD and up to one-third of those diagnosed with OCD exhibit hoarding behavior

(Cohen, 2004; Haggerty, 2006).

co morbidity
Anorexia nervosa

Bipolar disorder



Impulse control disorders

Such as compulsive buying or gambling

Social phobia

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Personality disorders


Diogenes syndrome

Prader-Willi syndrome

Head injury


hoarding dangers
Hoarding Dangers
  • Health hazards
  • Injury
  • Isolation
impact on elderly
Impact on Elderly
  • Compulsive hoarding is known to co-exist with both dementia and Diogenes syndrome; two conditions that are correlated with age
  • Compulsive hoarders are more likely to be socially isolated, live alone, and to be female
impact on elderly continued
Impact on Elderly (continued)
  • Hoarding medications is not uncommon among the elderly who have many ways to obtain drugs

(MacIsaac & Bartus Adamson, 1989)

  • No known ‘cure’ for compulsive hoarding

(Understanding Hoarding, 2005)

  • Traditional treatments for OCD have not proven to be effective with compulsive hoarders

(Saxena and Maidment, 2004)

treatment continued
  • Intensive multimodal treatment found effective in pilot studies following a course of up to one year
  • This treatment focused on the following areas 1) discarding; 2) organizing; 3) preventing incoming clutter; and 4) introducing alternative behaviors

(Saxena & Maidment, 2004)

  • Educators need to bring educational programs about hoarding to their communities
  • Need to spearhead or gain access to community hoarding task forces to protect the interest of older adults
  • Research how hoarding manifest itself in the elderly, the special concerns of elderly hoarders, and effective treatment protocols for older hoarders
  • Compulsive hoarding is a devastating disorder that is not well understood and is difficult to treat
  • Prevalence rates are unclear and the causes have not been identified
  • Early intervention is essential
  • Maier, T. (2004). On phenomenology and classification of hoarding: A review. Acta Psychiatr Scand,110, 323-337.
  • Frost, R.O., & Gross, R.C. (1993). The hoarding of possessions. Behavioral Research and Therapy, 31, 367-381.
  • Frost, R.O., & Hartl, T. (1996). A cognitive-behavioral model of compulsive hoarding.
  • Behavioral Research and Therapy, 34(4), 341-350.
  • National Study Group on Chronic Disorganizations (NSGCD). (2003). Types of hoarding: Different perspective [fact Sheet 02 3-03], 1-2. Retrieved from
  • Simmons, R. (2006). Behind closed doors: The horrors of animal hoarding. The Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved 11.27/06 from
references continued
References (continued)
  • Grisham, J.R., Frost, R.O., Steketee, G., Kim, H. & Hood, S. (2006). Age of onset of compulsive hoarding. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 20, 675-686.
  • Cohen, J. (2004). The danger of hoarding. USA Today; 2/19/04 [Electronic version].
  • Haggerty, J. (2006). The impact of obsessive-compulsive disorder., retrieved 11/27/06 from
  • MacIsaac, A.M., & Bartus Adamson, C. (1989). Multiple Medications: Is your elderly patient caught in the storm? Nursing, July, 60-64.
  • Saxena, S. & Maidment, M. (2004). Treatment of compulsive hoarding. JCLP/In Session, 60, 1143-1154.