A Look at Compulsive Hoarding
a psychological disorder
The focus of this study is on compulsive hoarding in a relatively broad sense. It examines the age of onset of this illness, and further examines potential causes such as stressful and traumatic events. The study also examined the impact hoarding has on the individual and his/her relationships with other people in their life.
The importance of this study is more prominent in our current times, as hoarding is an increasingly known disorder, thanks in part to television shows on the issue. Empirical science has little to say on the topic, and this study is one of the few coming to the forefront and discussing the topic so we may discuss it with some educated awareness of the problem.
The psychological issue of hoarding is one that is very interesting to view in light of the history of psychology. For example, hoarding is a behavior that is outwardly expressed; and often is seen to be linked with internal feelings (depression, stress, etc.). Psychologists from the Behaviorist school of thought would view the behaviors of hoarders to be rather natural: these are just the behaviors that stem from these inward processes (stress, depression, etc. are not cognitive events and are manifested in hoarding behaviors, among other behavioral expressions).
I’ve seen a few shows with compulsive hoarders, and they often describe not understanding “why” they are doing what they do. This lends credence to the notion that we are just “cogs in the machine.” People just hoard and have no apparent reason for doing so.
To those with a more modern conception of psychology, one may analyze these hoarding compulsions and behaviors as stemming from cognitive deficits. The cognitive school of thought suggests that we are active in our thoughts, and we are normally in control of our behaviors. Someone who has a hoarding compulsion is likely not in the right state of mind, which results in compulsive behaviors that serve no purpose but to manifest emotions and feelings that are inwardly felt and can be understood as a cognitive component as opposed to just a behavior.
New studies, such as this one, are beginning to pave a way for understanding this newly formed illness. Historically, we have little experimental evidence that gives us an understanding of hoarding; however the importance of acquiring new information on the topic is becoming more prevalent as we see increased cases and public attention on the topic (television shows for example).
Additionally, we do not want to continue living in a society where these people are branded as inherently crazy just because they hoard; and not provide them any avenue for treatment. In the past, mental illnesses often went undiagnosed and resulted in mistreatment of people who genuinely had these types of problems. If we are to learn from history, we should be compelled to seek out new evidence and understand the issue of hoarding more so we can properly judge people with this condition. As empirical science would suggest, hoarding is a legitimate problem; and we should treat it as such.