Hoarding behaviour stems from a range of issues some psychological, behavioural, practical, etc. Not everyone who is living amongst an abundance of items would be given the diagnosis of ‘hoarding disorder’. HoardingUK does not require that a person identify as ‘a hoarder’, we support anyone who either wants to make change themselves or is engaged in a process of enforced change.
The information included in this section is drawn from research and is included in the HoardingUK presentation materials. In an effort to have it be readable, citations are not provided. If you have any questions, please get in touch.
research BY MEGAN KARNES
What is Hoarding Disorder?
This text is taken directly from research undertaken by Megan Karnes and cannot be used without consent. Citation information is available upon request.
“Approximately 70 species of animals hoard food in order to ensure survival. Studies show that humans and animals share same the subcortial region in the brain that drives this instinct. Although the ancient Greeks recognised compulsive collecting the word hoarding was not used to describe human behaviour until the 1960’s by Bolman and Katz. Frost and Steketee define a person who hoards as a person who collects but fails to discard possessions that appear to have little or no value, whose living space becomes unfit for purpose and who experiences ‘distress or impairment’ in functioning as a result of the clutter.
In the context of hoarding even clinical evidence does not allow for a simple discussion. While now considered more than a personal eccentricity, it only became recognised as a disorder in its own right with the publication of DSM V in 2013. Instead it was previously listed in the DSM IV TR as one of the diagnostic criteria for Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). This criterion was based on Freud’s theory of anal fixation, although that rationale is no longer considered valid. The OCPD criterion is often disputed. More commonly hoarding is discussed as a manifestation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but recent research reveals that hoarding is often, but not always, found with OCD. Co-morbidity has been found with schizophrenia, eating disorders, brain injury, dementia, social phobia, depression, psychosis, Pica, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Alzheimer’s, etc. In fact 92% of people who hoard have at least one other mental health disorder. ‘Diogenes Syndrome’ also involves hoarding but includes self-neglect and squalor. Chromosomal links, frontal lobe damage and brain dysfunction have been cited as potential biological causes.
While these facts pointedly expose the lack of clarity amongst researchers about what causes and how to classify hoarding, Professor Paul Salkovskis succinctly states “Knowing which area of the brain is affected does not help you in treatment one little bit.”