What is compulsive hoarding syndrome?

Marla Deibler, PsyD

Compulsive hoarding is a disorder that involves the accumulation of belongings to such an extent that the resulting clutter renders parts of the living space unusable. Symptoms include:

  • The acquisition and failure to discard a large number of items/possession that are considered by most to be of little or no value
  • These possessions clutter the living space, rendering the space unable to be used in the manner in which it was intended
  • The hoarding behavior causes marked distress or interferes with one’s daily functioning
Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Compulsive hoarding syndrome (or pathological collecting) is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that would seemingly qualify as useless or without value.

Compulsive hoarding behavior has been associated with health risks, impaired functioning, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members.

When clinically significant enough to impair functioning, hoarding can prevent typical uses of space so as to limit activities such as cooking, cleaning, moving through the house, and sleeping. It can also be dangerous if it puts the individual or others at risk for fire, falling, poor sanitation, and other health concerns.

Shelley Webb
Compulsive hoarding syndrome is described as an acquisition of and the inability to discard items, even those that have no value what-so-ever (think trash and in the worst case scenario, think human and animal waste). Homes can end up becoming so full of stuff that only trailways remain throughout the home in order to get from one room to another.  Bath tubs and showers become unusable because they become filled with items.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.