Compulsive Hoarding Treatment Compulsive Hoarding is included diagnostically speaking in the so called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Spectrum. It is characterized by the inability to throw away (due to excessive distress) worthless (to others) items. Hoarders feel highly anxious about needing these items in the future and not being able to cope without them. Their usual question is: What if I need this newspaper article/outfit/furniture etc down the road?
Their living spaces are totally cluttered and most areas of their houses cannot be used for what they were originally designed (e.g. the furniture in the living room is buried under clutter). They are usually embarrassed about the way their homes and/or work environment look so they often avoid social interaction.
Perfectionism is a frequent trait that often leads to indecisiveness and behavioral paralysis. Hoarding also creates significant problems in family and romantic relationships. Hoarders believe that their “collection” of papers, clothes, maps, newspapers, etc have an intrinsic value. However, others do not recognize this “alleged” value and often encourage (or even force) them to discard these items which in turn lead to frequent arguments.
The treatment of choice is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Compulsive Hoarding is more difficult to treat than non hoarding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. One of the reasons is that patients are often not very motivated to do the therapy compared to their non hoarders’ counterparts.