Hoarding is defined as the acquisition of, and inability to discard worthless items even though they appear (to others) to have no value.
Hoarding behaviors can occur in a variety of psychiatric disorders and in the normal population, but are most commonly found in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Those people who report compulsive hoarding as their primary type of OCD, experience significant distress or functional impairment from their hoarding.
They have symptoms of indecisiveness, procrastination, and avoidance, are classified as having compulsive hoarding syndrome. An estimated 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the United States are believed to have compulsive hoarding syndrome.
More than a Hobby
Compulsive hoarding is not just an enthusiast’s passion for collecting stamps, dolls, or baseball cards. Neither is it someone who likes to “tinker,” and fix up old cars or broken furniture. People with compulsive hoarding syndrome may have immense difficulty throwing anything away, from the oldest paper clip, to a used food container, to an out-of-date newspaper, for fear that they might need those items in the future. Their homes are often full of stuff that the rest of us would call “junk.” The most commonly saved items include newspapers, magazines, old clothing, bags, books, mail, notes, and lists.