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Spotlight on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Hoarding

written by: Debbie Roome • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/28/2011

Hoarding is classified as a type of obsessive compulsive disorder. It is characterized by the obsessive accumulation of worthless items. Read on to find out more about obsessive compulsive disorder hoarding.

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    OCD Hoarding Definition

    Obsessive compulsive disorder hoarding is described as the acquisition of items and objects that are usually worthless. These are generally stored around the person’s home and may eventually fill living spaces. Things that might have had some value are often kept so long that they fall into disrepair and end up useless anyway.

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    How do OCD Hoarders Behave?

    Obsessive compulsive disorder hoarding is a condition whereby the sufferer feels compelled to collect worthless items. These are often everyday objects such as margarine tubs or bread bags. The person may be referred to as a pack rat or collector but their behavior patterns will follow similar paths.

    One type of hoarding involves the obsessive amassing of used goods, packaging materials, and other worthless items. These may include plastic bags, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, toilet roll tubes and milk cartons. Other hoarders may prefer items such as old toasters, bird cages and appliances. These are stacked up in their home in the belief that they will be useful one day. Others hoard till slips, old receipts, greetings cards and shopping lists.

    A different kind of hoarding involves buying excess amounts of new items such as soap or toilet paper and never using them. It may also include the practice of owning several similar items such as three or four microwaves, but never using them.

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    The Effects of OCD Hoarding

    The obsession is considered to be out of hand when the person refuses to throw anything away. In fact many people with obsessive compulsive disorder hoarding become agitated and angry if friends or family offer to help them tidy up and throw out excess junk.

    Many OCD hoarders amass so much stuff that they fill entire rooms in their house with stacks that reach shoulder height or above. This can cause them embarrassment and curtails their social life as they do not want people to see how they are living. In spite of their shame, they still keep on collecting, however, and seem powerless to stop themselves.

    Some people hoard out of fear that they will need all the stuff one day. Others fear bad luck if they throw out any of their collections. Another possible reason for hoarding is maintaining a connection with the past.

    Understanding an OCD hoarding definition is the place to start when considering if a hoarder has a serious problem. Becoming familiar with what the condition entails is the first step towards recovery. Some people are happy to throw away accumulations of junk every couple of years but obsessive compulsive disorder hoarding is a different matter. The person may resist with great anger if someone tries to tidy up their clutter.

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    References

    MedicineNet.com, http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=52017

    Compulsive Hoarding.org, http://www.compulsive-hoarding.org/Definition.html

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