Hoarders May Soon Have Their Own Disorder

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Whilst hoarding may not be an official psychiatric disorder this now looks set to change in 2013. Then a decision will be made about its new status with University of Pennsylvania therapists playing a major role in the decision. Seven different institutions have been selected as field trial sites for a new edition of a manual of mental disorders.

The manual is titled Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5.)

The manual itself has gotten it wrong in the past with homosexuality once included it in its folds.

Real World

It is all about seeing how the real world realities of the condition pertain to it being a psychological disorder of its own, with the therapists of the outpatient mental health clinic at Penn performing tests to determine if the manual is accurate in this real world. The manual will contain hoarding as a disorder of its own for the first time.

It will be determined if the therapists agree or not with the splitting up of binge eating, personality disorders, anxious depression, generalized anxiety disorder, OCD and also hoarding into their own definitive condition diagnosis.


The document itself is 943 pages long, and is a marker of how normal society distinguishes illness from eccentricity and normal behaviour. The Penn Psychaitrist who will lead the trials; Mahendra Bhati said, “The challenge is to more clearly define mental illnesses within the context of culture.”

It is only when significant problems are caused that behaviour of feelings is considered as an illness. Defining a hoarder is difficult when you take the example of a man who has a room devoted to sports memorabilia who may be known as a collector, against a person who has their home choc a block full of Beatles memorabilia to the point that it cant be used would be determined to be a hoarder.

Lumped In

To date hoarding has always been treated lumped in with OCD. Mahendra said, “What research is showing is that hoarders are probably different than people with classic obsessive-compulsive disorder. He continued stating that, “People with OCD often fear contamination and know they have a problem, whilst many hoarders think they’re fine and are not driven by anxiety.”


Hoarding does not only occur within humans but is evident in the behaviour patterns of many animals also. Hoarding and caching occur where there is a natural requirement for the amassment of food and other substances, However when we look at magpies we can see that there is nothing necessary about the hoarding of items.

Magpies have been long known to b attracted towards the collection of items that are utterly useless to them. They hoard shiny items in particular such as coins and jewellery. In the human condition there is a need to amass a great deal of items, in particular during times of civil unrest, such as times of natural disaster or in preparation for this, anything from a rumour that a natural disaster is impending is enough to set it off.

This may be down to the hoarding of particular foodstuff and water supplies. Hoarding is of course as this change in the manual suggests a mental illness. It is the repercussion of obsessive compulsive disorder, where there is far more value placed on items than is the case based on their real value. Many homes of hoarders need to be treated for vermin as a consequence of excessive hoarding.

Often the condition of hoarding is not fully realised by the loved ones of the persons until after the persons’ death. The person is likely to be embarrassed by their affliction and will avoid social contact or having people round to the house based on the state of disarray.

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