Psy 531 Pre Practicum
Weekly Topic: Hoarding
Although compulsive hoarding seems to be a severe mental health disorder, it is currently not categorized as a psychiatric disorder and not listed in the DSM-IV. In the DSM-IV however, one of the 8 criteria for Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is ‘the inability to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value’. There is currently a proposed revision for Hoarding in the DSM-V, with a push to include it as its own disorder; this includes an argument of whether or not it should be included in the main manual or in an Appendix for further research.
For those familiar with the concept of hoarding and those that treat individuals with this problem, it can be very difficult to understand the complexity of it and to develop a treatment plan for improvement. Hoarding symptoms usually begin between the ages of 10-13 although treatment is uncommon before the age of 40. The incidences and recognition of hoarding also increases for people over age 55. Severe compulsive hoarding can be detrimental in many aspects of life including morbidity, mortality, disability, home fires, eviction, and pest infestation.
Based on current research it appears that executive dysfunction more specifically, categorization problems, may be an important issue in identifying people that have severe hoarding problems. One of the most common cognitive problems reported by these individuals is the inability to categorize objects and identify the most relevant characteristics of objects, and group objects based on their similarities. Researchers have also found that these individuals report greater distress with categorizing things and take longer to complete these tasks.
In one study I reviewed the objective was to evaluate the frequency with which severe compulsive hoarding co-occurs with late life depression and to compare the cognitive characteristics of...