Compulsive hoarding is a pathological behavior disorder characterized by the compulsive collection of items of no material value to the point where it interferes with normal life functions such as sleeping or eating.  It is uncertain at this point whether the condition is an independent psychiatric disorder or a symptom of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as most hoarders usually have other OCD symptoms. It has only recently been recognized in the 2013 edition of the DSM.

It is fairly common, affecting an estimated 2-5% of the population.  It's early signs often appear in childhood, but often do not become an issue until adulthood when the accumulated hoard starts interfering with the lifestyle of the individual or their family.

The proposed diagnostic criteria are:

  • Difficulty parting with posessions, independent of objective value
  • Strong urges to save items and distress when discarding items
  • Possessions fill up and clutter most of the living area so the areas cannot be used for their intended purpose.
  • Impairment of lifestyle, such as social interactions or occupation
  • No identifiable organic condition that explains the hoarding (such as brain injury)
  • No identifiable mental disorder tha would explain the hoarding

On House, M.D., the team deals with a hoarding patient and her husband in The Dig

Compulsive hoarding at Wikipedia

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