+ What Causes Compulsive Hoarding?

Compulsive hoarding is thought to result from problems in one or more of these areas:

Information processing. People with compulsive hoarding often have problems such as:

  • Difficulty categorizing their possessions (for example, deciding what is valuable and what is not)
  • Difficulty making decisions about what to do with possessions
  • Trouble remembering where things are (and so they often want to keep everything in sight so they don't forget)

Beliefs about possessions. People with compulsive hoarding often:

  • Feel a strong sense of emotional attachment toward their possessions (for example, an object might be felt to be very special, or a part of them.)
  • Feel a need to stay in control of their possessions (and so they don't want anyone touching or moving their possessions.)
  • Worry about forgetting things (and use their possessions as visual reminders.)

Emotional distress about discarding. People with compulsive hoarding often:

  • Feel very anxious or upset when they have to make a decision about discarding things.
  • Feel distressed when they see something they want and think they can't feel better until they acquire that object.
  • Control their uncomfortable feelings by avoiding making the decision or putting it off until later.