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The Compulsive Hoarding Concept Research Paper

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Compulsive hoarding is a psychological condition whose research is still underway. Patients suffering from this disorder normally acquire items and develop high levels of attachment to such items. This paper will introduce the topic by comprehensively defining compulsive hoarding. In three particular sections, the submission discusses clinical, religious, and ethical aspects of the society while emphasizing on the compulsive hoarding disorder.

Statistically, about 1.2 million to 1.5 million Americans suffer from the disorder. Initially, researchers clarified it under the DMS-IV and OCD disorders. Treatment administered on the anxiety disorders failed to respond on patients with compulsive hoarding. Since clinical and scientific operations are underway to find a long-term remedy, this paper presents arguments from different quotas including the church concerning this disorder. Religion equally emphasizes on the importance of faith in order to overcome the habit. Such issues coupled with ethical concerns undergo thorough discussion in the paper.


Compulsive hoarding is a disorder characterized by the need to keep things even when an individual does not need them. This overly possessive character causes an individual to collect many things most of which he/she does not use (Frost & Steketee, 2010). Such people are likely to pick up books, animals and other things that belong to other people and keep them in a confined and disorderly manner. Compulsive disorder creates an unnatural attachment between an individual and other materials that could be of less value or relevance to the same person.

Such behaviors expose the victims to serious health risks due to inability to maintain cleanliness within the environment. According to experts, hoarding can begin when an individual loses an item of value, a family member, or experiences a traumatic experience in the past. Compulsive hoarding disorder is psychological and, therefore, requires therapy for recovery. According to Frost & Steketee (2010), there is no assurance that an individual would recover immediately and this makes treatment a transitional process.

During treatment, all people living with the patient need to offer moral support in order to control the behavior. Even though scientists developed treatment for this behavior, it is not incredibly effective and this explains reasons for continued research about this topic. This paper intends to discuss compulsive hoarding disorder while focusing on its causes, behaviors of the victims, and other religious perspectives of the subject. In addition, it will highlight significant ethical concerns raised for people living with the compulsive disorder. The submission is important for different audiences owing to high levels of susceptibility to the disorder among different people.


One out of ten people displays inability to discard items around the place of work, or at home. However, in rare occasions, others have an extreme case of developing attachment with things by collecting them from different places. Compulsive hoarders only feel happy when they are around the collected material making it difficult to interact with them. The collected items feel like a family to them. When questioned about the sources of these items, compulsive hoarders often believe that they acquired them personally.

Failure to understand such people could lead to serious acquisitions of stealing. Compulsive hoarding could destroy social relations at home and at work because the patients are likely to pick items that belong to others for individual use. While keeping these items, there are limited chances of cleaning the rooms and this could lead to accumulation of dusty and inhabitation of bacteria (Beck, 2010).

People living with compulsive hoarders could face economic difficulties since they have to replace items acquired by the hoarders constantly. In addition, their vulnerability to various health risks means that they have to visit hospitals constantly and during treatment, the homes of offices need thorough cleaning in order to create room for movement, sleeping, and bathing. Some of these impaired people sleep on the acquired material in order to prevent other people from taking them away.


Most compulsive orders have no idea about this disorder. People around them notice behavior change linked to psychological impairment. Normally, the loss of a close member of the family or a friend could cause this situation. Individuals deal with loss differently, and this explains the importance of counseling after experiencing losses. People have a natural desire to keep certain things of value to them. According to science, at some point in time, people display hoarding characteristics when they hold onto items or people.

For the case of compulsive hoarding, the patients undergo a prolonged period of item collection and an extreme desire to keep everything. There are cases in which compulsive hoarders land in prison after the criminal justice system confuses them with thieves. The difference between such people and thieves is that they can acquire something that they may never use. However, they would never abandon the item especially when they can link it to the loss they experienced in the past.

Experts mention that the anxiety disorder creates illusions in individuals making them feel possessive and in control. Another characteristic of hoarders is that they rarely talk with people. Instead, they could talk to the items they acquire and they believe that such things are good listeners who could provide answers. In each place, at home or at work, people are likely to stumble upon collected shoes, newspapers, and other things; this interferes with movement and air circulation. According to sources, about 1.5 million people in the US suffer from this disorder even though there is limited awareness on it in other countries.

Scientific Research

Initially, researchers concentrated on other psychological disorder and completely ignored Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This made it difficult to find treatment for OCD until early 2013. Most families dealt with the disorder without understanding it. Compulsive hoarding displays severe characteristics in comparison to other OCD disorders and it calls for extensive research on the subject. Science mentions that it was difficult to determine compulsive hoarding in people because humans have a natural desire to keep things in the society.

However, a section of the same society consists of people who have no attachment to anything and they contradict the characteristics of compulsive hoarders (Fortinash, 2012). However, the US researchers noticed that extreme cases of hoarding exist and compulsive hoarders have incredibly poor relationships with people around them in office or at home.

The media presents things that mostly occur in the society and since compulsive hoarding is a rare occurrence, few media outlets have programs on this disorder. According to science, it would be difficult to identify cases of compulsive hoarding since they occur after an individual undergoes a near death experience, anxiety, a major loss, or when in a state of denial. People always confuse such patients with distressed individuals who would automatically overcome such habits after sometimes.

Other people also consider this habit as an act of gaining attention from people living with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Besides loss and anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse also have a direct link to compulsive hoarding. People who have low levels of trust in other people are likely to have this disorder. They feel that they should keep everything away from the people they mistrust, as they fear experiencing repeated loses.

Scientists equally realized that genetics play a significant role in acquisition of compulsive hoarding. Coupled with schizophrenia and non-committal characteristics, people could become compulsive hoarders within a short time (Muller & Mitchell, 2011). Six years ago, a scientific report linked compulsive hoarding to poor socialization and vocational practices. The report indicated that hoarders isolate themselves from others without knowledge that they suffer from a certain disorder.

Consequences of the Addictive Properties

Accidents could occur at home or in the work places on rare occasions. People living with compulsive hoarders are at a high risk of knocking items, falling down, dealing with rodent infestation, and overly unhygienic conditions. The fact that hoarders store many things in a confined place naturally creates room for tripping. Consequently, they often see sufficient space in areas that are already full. This limits the space needed for free air circulation, and it could be detrimental to asthma patients and other allergic individuals.

Some compulsive hoarders keep things such as broken glasses, cooking items, and worn out clothes. Definitely, they do not need these things and broken glasses could cause serious health issues. For instance, when a glass cuts one person and almost immediately does the same to another person, people could transfer infections such as HIV and other viruses without knowledge.

Compulsive hoarders are likely to pay for apartments, which they cannot use to the maximum. For instance, the kitchen could be too crowded for cooking, or the bedroom may be full making it unfavorable for sleeping. Another consequence of compulsive hoarding is the inability to keep friends since most hoarders closely relate to the acquired items as opposed to fellow humans. Most compulsive hoarders have bad tempers and often deny other people access to their rooms. Such issues make it impossible to maintain close social relationships and to seek help for the patients.

Primary Effects on the Brain and Other Organs of the Body

Most neuropsychological reports indicate that compulsive hoarders suffer from inability of the brain to coordinate certain functions. In the brain, Cingulate Gyrus has the sole responsibility of enabling concentration, focus, and making of judgment. During loss, or when facing an anxiety attack, Cingulate Gyrus is likely to stop functioning or become weak.

Even though the endocrine system would send commands to the hypothalamus, the Cingulate Gyrus refuses to respond to such commands. As such, the body responds to the environment differently. People start behaving in certain ways that depict their need for attention. Cingulate Gyrus’ dysfunctional capabilities lead to poor decision-making, lack of attention, anxiety, and memory loss. Besides interference with the front part of the brain, Cingulate Gyrus also destroys right section of the cortex and this causes paranoia (MacKay, 2012).

According to neuroscience, accidents that cause brain damage could cause compulsive hoarding. Brain damage occurs in subsequent stages and early prognosis could make treatment easy. During the late stages of compulsive hoarding, it becomes even difficult for psychiatrists to solve the problem.

Naturally, the brain coordinates different functions within the body and failure of a section of the brain could cause severe effects on the body. Since compulsive disorder affects the right side of the brain and the anterior cortex, chances of physical disability are low. However, compulsive hoarders need to adapt to the new lifestyle of fear, increased impulses, and high tempers. The society should be willing to help such individuals with their concentration difficulties to avoid worse cases of this disorder.

Clinical Issues

Clinical Investigations

Many clinical investigations carried out between 2008 and 2013 explain that glucose levels in the brain determine such levels of anxiety in compulsive hoarders. Initially, it was difficult to make this conclusion through CT scans. Following the introduction of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, it became easy to determine the causes and consequences of the disorder in patients (Tolin, Frost, & Steketee, 2010).

According to hospitals across the US, about 25-45% of individuals suffering from anxiety disorders display behaviors of compulsive hoarders. Among them, only 0.8% understands that they have a serious condition that needs quick medical attention. Since compulsive disorder is a cerebral condition, failure to intervene could cause severe brain damage, thus exposing an individual to other health risks. When diagnosing patients with compulsive hoarding disorder, it is difficult to determine the results unless a patient displays certain levels of psychological impairment.

In essence, there are high chances of late prognosis for these patients contributing to delayed treatments. During distress or when facing a certain form of an anxiety, people are likely to withdraw from others or things they liked to do. Instead, they tend to focus on things that connect them to the loss they experienced. For someone who lost a child or a parent, there is a high chance that he/she would begin collecting things that remind him/her of the lost individual. At such a point, most people probably concentrate on returning to normalcy while they forget that another person might develop worse behaviors. The patient loses emotional attachment with other people living within the social environment since psychologically the only source of satisfaction is hoarding (Omololu, 2010).

This disorder creates impairment in the brain making it impossible for a patient to admit that he/she is sick. People who hoard at an ordinary level do not experience a psychological overhaul in comparison to compulsive hoarders. When they develop paranoia, it becomes difficult to trust other people. As such, the brain makes them develop undying urges to keep and protect items for fear of loss. Naturally, the human brain has the ability to record things in the long-term memory for a lengthy period. For compulsive hoarders, the long-term memory records losses and this increases the chances of anxiety attacks and attachment to hoarded property.

Implications of Biological Aspects of the Behavior during Counseling

Counseling seems to be the only viable option for compulsive hoarders. However, psychiatrists have to be exceptionally patient with the victims since they are likely to act aggressively. Shrinks have one of the most difficult periods when counseling compulsive hoarders. First, compulsive hoarders have a desire to save resources and they would not allow their families to spend money on their medication. They acquire this habit from the disorder, which controls them and disallows them from throwing things away (Sholl, 2011).

Consequently, the success of therapy is about 12 % in extreme cases because patients could take things from the psychiatrist, and this interferes with the counselor’s work. Additionally, they even develop mistrust for the counselor that should offer them psychological assistance. Psychiatrists have a huge task of developing trust with the patients even before commencing treatment. Due to difficulty in information disclosure, shrinks have to wait for a long time until the patients are ready to talk.

For compulsive hoarders, decision-making is a psychological problem and psychiatrists have to understand that family members and friends should intervene. However, the shrinks often encourage the patients to make individual decisions in order to avoid blame game and aggression. When the brain becomes dysfunctional, compulsive hoarders tend to procrastinate instead of carrying out duties immediately. This could interfere with the counseling session because social workers have other anxiety disorders to manage.

Social workers deal with many patients who suffer from co-related disorders and they have different characteristics. Compulsive hoarders could also perfect their art of deception. However, they often feel perfect while they view others as offenders. This attitude could affect therapy sessions because the psychiatrist would find it difficult to develop an effective treatment plan for the patient. Finally, OCD patients are likely to avoid responsibilities and avoid the help of others.

Without organization skills, psychiatrists have to live the lives of two people. Some of them neglect their children and are likely to forget that they had families. When this happens, a psychiatrist has to train the individual on parental skills and other areas of health in order to encourage normalcy (Bloomgarden & Mennuti, 2009). When offering therapy, psychiatrist often helps the patients to organize their rooms well while keeping the hoarded materials intact. After sometime, they start accepting that they are sick and that some of the property belongs to different people.

Medical Treatments


The treatments currently in existence are only temporal. Studies are still ongoing in this field and researchers could come up with good treatment plans in future. Currently, most medics deal with the treatment of symptoms that appear. A low intelligence quotient (IQ) is one of the areas of focus when offering treatment to compulsive hoarders. About 33.3% of patients respond positively to treatment, but the remaining section of the society is under investigation. Most hospitals offer treatment for ordinary anxiety disorders while researchers seek a long-term solution to the problem.

Special Education

Most patients suffering from this disorder are between 11 years and 20 years. The school going children need to attend special schools because trained teachers often understand them. In ordinary schools, they would have to face allegations of stealing without their subconscious knowledge. In special schools, they engage in games that are likely to make them concentrate and spend much energy. Dedicated attention from teachers makes them feel loved while studying with other students suffering of the same category gives them a sense of belonging. Special schools have facilities that help in nurturing the talents of such students making them realize that there are other ways of dealing with depression and loss.


Therapy involves counseling and physical exercises. Aggression and ADHD result from excess glucose levels in the brain. Through yoga classes, physical therapy, and counseling, the patients often engage the brain in activities. These help in the utilization of glucose by the body in order to reduce hyperactivity. Counseling helps patients to trust the psychiatrist and people living around the household or office. Therapy takes an extensive period, but it offers a long-term assurance to the families of the victims.

Since the government has limited knowledge concerning the obsessive anxiety disorder, there are no sources of funding for this particular ailment. In addition, the costs incurred by various social institutions make it difficult for social workers to support many patients. As such, therapy is one of the most expensive forms of treatment for the disorder. The most common therapy is the cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that sees to unravel the reasons for hoarding; it provides long-term solutions (Bloomgarden & Mennuti, 2009).


Common medical remedies for this disorder include antidepressants such as Luvox and Paxil among others. These medications only help to suppress aggression and to enable patients to make rational decisions. During prognosis, it is important to understand when the behavior began including factors that led to its initiation. In addition, the medical practitioner should understand environments and situations that stimulate the behavior.

Such treatments work differently in people and it would be relevant to understand the history of the anxiety disorder before offering treatment. The pills help in relaxing the body even though experts often advise patients to attend CBT sessions that involve growth therapy. Parent-child involvement is part of the group therapy that would assist patients to see the value of other important people in their lives (Sisemore, 2010). In cases of serious compulsive hoarding, patients need confinement in a medical institution with the administration of medical and therapeutic treatment.

Future Directions for Treatment

There are prospects of getting a permanent solution to the problem of compulsive hoarding. Researchers aim at developing treatments that assist in treating the brain instead of controlling behavior. Since most problems associated with the condition have a direct link to the brain, seeking a medication for the brain is important (Elliott & Smith, 2009).

According to numerous researches, they would be willing to try brain surgery if it offers solutions to attention deficit, decision-making difficulties, and memory loss problems. In the US, hospitals consider administering medications for the Alzheimer’s to compulsive hoarders since the two would elicit almost similar reactions to medicines such as Reminyl during research. Researchers are careful not to approve such medications, as they can cause contradictory results in other patients. In addition, it would worsen the situation.

As such, efforts are underway to develop medicine that uniquely manages compulsive hoarding in almost all patients. The remaining 66.6% should respond to treatment positively like the other patients. Prior to getting the solution, medical experts support prevention and therapeutic strategies towards reducing the prevalence of the disorder. Through awareness programs, people clearly understand the causes of the disorder and they are likely to take precautions in future until the world of medicine finds a viable solution to the problem.

Ethical Issues


Acquisition of items happens within and outside the counseling area. This could raise serious ethical concerns especially for a patient whose treatment took along time. The therapists expect patients to change the way they think and behave after sometime. On the contrary, most of them resume their hoarding habits later. This discourages the therapists who strive hard to offer group therapies and medical assistance. Some patients take advantage of their condition to steal from other people. This happens after the rest of the community understands that they have a disorder. Such excuses are unethical and could ruin quality social relationships between families, communities, neighbors, or friends.

Human Rights

In counseling, human rights issues arise from the society side and from the victim’s part. The society should understand that nobody chooses to be a compulsive hoarder. As such, such people need understanding and patience even when they are out of control. However, a compulsive hoarder needs to respect the inalienable basic rights of other people. He/she should not exercise aggression by insulting the counselor and avoiding help from other willing people. According to medics, compulsive hoarding might not have a similar treatment like other DSM-IV disorders (Ghinassi, 2010).

Both the patients and the society need to respect each other when dealing with compulsive hoarding. This is because all people are susceptible to the disorder that affects about 1.5 million of the US population. Additionally, its causes are ordinary and this exposes all people to the disorder. Hence, people need to respect human rights when dealing with such patients.

In return, during treatment, patients should act appropriately in order to motivate the psychiatrists. Discriminating the compulsive hoarders could lead to premature withdrawal from the group therapy, which should not happen. The patients equally discriminate others by feeling that they are always right. Their obsessions make it impossible to see the worth of other people and this explains their attachment to other things. Societal acceptance encourages speedy recovery (Tompkins & Hartl, 2009).


There is a relationship between compulsive hoarding and laxity. Some people feel that compulsive hoarders are lazy and they cannot not clean their environments. This might not be the truth even though it raises serious ethical questions. The patients expose people to health risks even though they do not want anybody to clean their rooms and offices. Risking the lives of other people may be ethically wrong, but the brain controls all activities of the human body; hence, it would be unrealistic to judge such individuals (Tompkins & Hartl, 2009).

Christian Worldview Implications

Compulsive hoarders have different addictions including religion. Those addicted to a certain religion would keep all materials that relate to the church, temple, or mosque. Some spiritual leaders suffer from this disorder without their knowledge; some of them develop extremist cultures in order to safeguard the religion jealously.

Religious Perspective

Most Biblical analysts contradict biology and scientific research. As such, the Bible considers compulsive hoarding as another sin caused by human nature. People need to do actions that please God by acting consciously since the spiritual world connects the mind, soul, and body. Therefore, it would be irrelevant to mention that the body does something different from the soul.

From a biological perspective, the brain controls the body even though biology does not deal with superficial aspects such as the spirit, soul, and mind. According to the Bible, no sin is beyond forgiveness. Additionally, all sicknesses can undergo successful treatment, and the most important aspect to consider is faith. The Bible recognizes that there is treatment for compulsive hoarding, but an individual needs to confess his or her sins first. Science contradicts the Bible at this point because most compulsive hoarders never understand the implications of their actions (Springman & Lies, 2012).

Compulsive hoarding is a disorder under investigation and the society invites different opinions about the subject. It would be relevant for the Bible analysts and biological researchers to work together. Through this, they would develop therapeutic, spiritual, and medicinal treatment for this disorder. Even though the Bible emphasizes on the story of the fall of man, it displays hope of recovery.

This hope equals to the determination that a patient should have when seeking treatment from a psychiatrist. The Bible mentions that God is compassionate; He would be willing to forgive any sin. The first stage of seeking forgiveness is the ability to accept a mistake. Compulsive hoarders might not be able to do this since they do not realize that they made a mistake (Watkins, 2010). Prayer, fasting, and religious counseling are the most viable strategies used in the church to deal with the issue.

Freedom and Caution

Religious counselors have the right to discuss such biological matters. However, they are categorical about Bible teachings and they would not recommend biological attempts that seek to rival God. Religious counselors understand that the addictive behavior is a consequence of lack of spiritual fulfillment. There is a tendency to fill the human void with things acquired from other places. As such, the counselors warn patients that stealing is a crime and it is sinful. In addition, spiritual satisfaction provides high levels of comfort.

The counselors equally warn the public on depending on the future research instead of seeking Biblical assistance. According to them, God gives people knowledge at their appointed times. People should not seek solace in things that are not forthcoming or might not occur instead of seeking help from God. They assist people in realizing that depending on human research might not be the only remedy to the problem. The patients have an opportunity to trust in God instead of picking up things and considering them worthwhile (Springman & Lies, 2012).

Religious counselors also warm people about the co-occurring disorder and inability to find treatment. First, it does not use the treatments offered for the other anxiety disorders. Secondly, the patient would recover few chances through therapy or medication. In such a hopeless situation, it would only be relevant to turn to God, ask for forgiveness, and lead a spiritual life. Spiritual leaders could hold such opinions about biological attempts to seek solutions, but researchers have an undying quest to find help (Springman & Lies, 2012).

The biologists also take note of spiritual leaders who have the compulsive hoarding disorder. Most of them are perfectionists and collectors of materials from the church. They believe in owing this property, but they use their spirituality to defend their cause. Some of them are likely to operate cultic organizations because of the strong ideologies they hold about their religions. When dealing with spirituality and biology, people should not go to the extreme in order to impress leaders. A leader with the disorder could mislead the congregation without his knowledge.


In summary, the compulsive hoarding disorder undergoes research lately due to patients’ inability to respond to treatments offered to OCD and DSM-IV patients. Social factions of the society including ethical and religious leaders respond to the habits of patients. Since the research is underway, such social divisions only argue because of the principles they hold. Finally, with treatment, most families will enjoy the peace of living with non-hoarding relatives.


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