What is Hoarding?
According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), “People with hoarding disorder excessively save items that others may view as worthless. They have persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions, leading to clutter that disrupts their ability to use their living or work spaces”.
What is the DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for Hoarding Disorder?
- Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.
- This difficulty is due to perceived need to save the items and to distress associated with discarding them.
- The difficult discarding possessions results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromises their intended use. If living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of the interventions of their parties, (family members, cleaners, & the authorities).
- The hoarding causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining an environment safe for oneself or others).
- The hoarding is not attributable to another medical condition.
- The hoarding is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (ex. obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, decreased energy in major depressive disorder).
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
How can I help a friend or family member with hoarding behavior to declutter?
Well-intended people who are seeking ways to offer their assistance often ask this question. While these attempts to help with decluttering are sincere, they may not be well received by the person who hoards. Keep in mind:
- Motivation cannot be imposed
- Everyone, including people who hoards, has a right to make choices about their belongings and how they live,
- Until the person is motivated to change, they may not accept you offer of help.
- People who hoard are frequently ambivalent about accepting help and discarding objects.
Tolin, D., Frost, R., & Steketee, G., (2014). Buried in Treasures: help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding.
What are the effects of hoarding?
- Risk to the health and safety of those living in or near the home, including health problems, structural damage to the home, fire, and even death.
- Expensive and emotionally devastating evictions or other court actions, hospitalization and homelessness.
- Conflict with family members and friends who are frustrated and concerned about the state of the home and/or excessing acquiring.
Bratiotis, C., Otte, S., Steketee, G., Muroff, J., Frost., R. (2009) Boston University School of Social Work Compulsive Hoarding Research Project Hoarding Fact Sheet.
1 Tolin, D., Frost, R., & Steketee, G., (2014). Buried in Treasures: help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding.
2 American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth edition. 2013. American Psychiatric Publishing.
3 American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
4 Bratiotis, C., Otte, S., Steketee, G., Muroff, J., Frost., R. (2009) Boston University School of Social Work Compulsive Hoarding Research Project Hoarding Fact Sheet.
Buried in Treasures
- Self-Help Group for people with hoarding issues
- Judgement free
- Book: Buried in Treasures
Greater Brockton Area Hoarding Task Force
Mission: "To educate ourselves and the community at large about hoarding, and available resources".
Contact: Old Colony Elder Services
144 Main St. Brockton, MA 02301
MassHousing Hoarding Resources
- Massachusetts Hoarding Resources Directory
- Hoarding Best Practices Guide
For Family members: