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Compulsive Hoarding Syndrome Essay

1780 words - 7 pages

Imagine how much trash and waste people discard in their lifetimes. Now imagine a person living in that waste they have accumulated in their lifetime stored in their own homes because of their inability to discard the useless items. This is what day-to-day life is like for a compulsive hoarder. Compulsive hoarding is a chronic behavioral syndrome that is defined by a person's extreme retention of useless items and crippling inability to discard such items. Compulsive hoarding has been traditionally recognized amongst psychiatrists and researchers in human behavior as a sub-type of obsessive-compulsive disorder due to similar symptoms hoarders have with those that suffer from OCD. However, there is substantial evidence that proves contrary. Hoarders often have several other behavioral or physical symptoms that are not typical of a person with OCD, hoarders also have genetic and physical anomalies different from OCD, and finally, most compulsive hoarders do not respond to treatments intended for OCD patients. Because of these differences, compulsive hoarding should be seen as a separate syndrome apart from OCD, so that the disorder may be categorized and studied accurately in order to pursue more effective treatments.

Compulsive hoarding has been universally defined by researchers as a chronic behavioral syndrome that is categorized by three unique qualities: the extreme retention and failure to dispose of an abundant quantity of useless objects, living environments so condensed with clutter that it compromises day-to-day living for its occupants, and finally a significant provocation of anxiety or distress caused by the hoarding (Franks et al. 79). Although the definition of compulsive hoarding is universally accepted, the cause for these symptoms however is an unresolved issue within the behavioral research community. Discrepancy can be attributed to the low detection rate for the disorder as well as the uniqueness of the disorder for each person that suffers from it. Until recently, the syndrome has often been associated with OCD due to similar aspects between the disorders. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a behavioral disorder that includes several social phobias, compulsive hoarding included (Andersen et al. 189).

Compulsive hoarding is not a sub-type of OCD due to several behavioral deficiencies and symptoms unrelated to OCD. These symptoms imply that compulsive hoarding is its own syndrome apart from OCD. Researchers from the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders in Boston University agree that compulsive hoarding is not a sub-type of OCD because hoarding does not directly correlate to any compulsive indications or obsessions as with other OCD symptoms (Grisham & Barlow 46). These symptoms include obsession with symmetry, repetition, and checking rituals (Summerfeldt et al. 1454). However, compulsive hoarding has numerous psychological disorders unrelated to OCD, indicating that compulsive hoarding is indeed its own syndrome...

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