What is Compulsive Hoarding Disorder?

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  • Written By: A. Pasbjerg
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2018
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Compulsive hoarding disorder is a psychological condition which causes sufferers to accumulate an excessive number of possessions. Thought to be a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, it typically causes people to collect and save so many items that their living space becomes cluttered, unsanitary, and even dangerous. Often those things being saved have little or no value, yet the hoarder feels compelled to keep them. Some people are focused on collecting specific things, while others just save everything. Though the severity of the condition can vary, the day to day lives of many sufferers is impaired by their hoarding.

People with compulsive hoarding disorder feel compelled to acquire a large number of items and keep them indefinitely. Often their homes or apartments are so cluttered with things like newspapers, books, or even food that they cannot move around comfortably or use their living space for any activities. It may be impossible for them to do simple daily tasks, like cooking and cleaning, so they are unable to function normally. Conditions in their home many times become unsanitary and they may risk injuring themselves by tripping over objects or having them fall on them. These types of conditions can also pose a significant fire hazard, therefore risking the person's life.


The majority of those with compulsive hoarding disorder do not collect possessions that would normally be considered of much value. Articles like old magazines, toys, or bottles are the types of things they find themselves unable to part with. Some sufferers actually believe that these items are valuable, though others recognize that they are not but are still unable to get rid of them.

Hoarders often tend to accumulate a variety of items, but sometimes their focus is on acquiring specific things. One of the more common types of this form of compulsive hoarding disorder is bibliomania, where people are obsessed with collecting books. Other people may be focused on things like movies, music, or clothing. Another well known form is animal hoarding, where people have so many pets that their homes are overrun and they have difficulty caring for them all.

Like many psychological conditions, compulsive hoarding disorder may range from relatively mild to severe. Some people may simply have clutter around their homes but it does not affect their ability to live their lives. Other people are unable to accomplish normal daily tasks and their social interactions are severely limited by their hoarding.



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