Hoarding Disorder 
                                              Timothy Re, Psy.D. 

When does a "collection" become unmanageable? When does a messy house turn into clutter? When does saving things turn into obsession? When does shopping for "deals" turn to a problem?             

         

There are many subtypes and forms of hoarding. There is no one size fits all. These behaviors occur on a continuum from healthy and responsible to extremely unhealthy and debilitating causing great and far-reaching problems.  

 

Most hoarding starts with urges and behaviors accumulating things. Hoarders save, buy, acquire, inherit, and collect stuff until the possessions start to create problems in living. This can be minor or it can have a severe impact on functioning and compromise our entire living spaces.

 

Most people who hoard also have some problems with discarding or parting with their possessions. Even the thought of it can become highly distressing and overwhelming. Often, this is so difficult it is avoided and an increasingly difficult to manage cycle is created.

 

Another way to look at hoarding disorders is just a maladaptive relationship with things or possessions develops. This relationship is dysfunctional and causes impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.  

 

Often it is difficult for people to admit to hoarding issues as insight can be compromised. There are many and varied reasons for this. A variety of other issues and problems are also commonly associated with hoarding.  It is always complicated and not easy to understand.

 

In sum, hoarding is a pathological relationship with material objects and sometimes animals that involves acquiring too much stuff and problems managing or discarding that stuff that causes disruption in living spaces, safety, health and relationships. Fortunately, we are understanding more how to approach and treat this disorder.