Transgender Warning: Transgender stuff to follow!

Transgender Warning: Transgender stuff to follow!
There are now hundreds of articles, neat pictures and videos here, that are mostly trans* related.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Compulsive Hoarding

Some how this is me. Ouch! Saw it on Oprah, too.


Compulsive hoarding is a complex psychological disorder that can significantly disrupt a person's life. Hoarding occurs when a person acquires and saves possessions that have either little or no value (or have some perceived value), and the person then has great difficulty in discarding their possessions. This usually results in clutter.

Hoarding behavior can often lead to other problems. Often associated with OCD, OCPD and depression, hoarding can affect people's lives across all levels of functioning, It is common for hoarders to have interpersonal difficulties, family tension, poor self-esteem, poor social skills, weak decision-making skills, occupational issues, and even legal issues. In addition, there are physical risks, such as falls and fires within the home environment.

The following are some common characteristics within compulsive hoarding:

  1. Saving or collecting continues beyond what is needed or of use.

  2. Avoiding throwing possessions away, or experience high levels of anxiety when discarding items.

  3. Having significant clutter at home, often to the point where pathways need to be made to walk around.

  4. Functional spaces are lost due to clutter. For example, can not sit on chairs or use tabletops because possessions occupy those areas. Socializing is curtailed or eliminated.

  5. Value of uniqueness is attached to items that others do not find valuable, such as papers, containers and food items.

  6. Strong emotional connections are formed to the extent that and individual feels a sense of safety or comfort.

  7. Feeling suspicious of other people touching possessions (or throwing them away).

  8. Feeling overwhelmed and/or embarrassed by possessions.

  9. Others perceive belongings as bothersome and/or dangerous.

Although excessive savings and collecting may become overwhelming, appropriate interventions are available. At the Bio-Behavioral Institute, our treatment plan for hoarding is based on many years of experience and research. The approach is cognitive-behavioral in nature in which patients are taught to develop an organizational plan. The patient and therapist work jointly on such skills as sorting items, applying decision making strategies and utilizing cognitive techniques to deal with attachment and emotional connections to one’s belongings. Likewise, patient and therapist focus on reducing the acquisition of new possessions. When appropriate, psychopharmacological interventions are also introduced to address symptoms of anxiety and depression.

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