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How to Know if You're Vulnerable for Hoarding

How to Know if You're Vulnerable for Hoarding


Earlier this month I attended the CT Hoarding Working Group's 4th Annual Conference on Hoarding Disorder. As many of you may know from reading this blog, I've been a member of this group for a few years and have served on the conference planning committee the last two years. I've written past posts about the conferences HEREHERE and HERE.


This year's conference focused on the treatment of hoarding disorder and was facilitated by Dr. Randy Frost, a well-known researcher, and expert in the field of hoarding disorder. He's written various books including Buried in Treasures, Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, and The Oxford Handbook of Hoarding and Acquiring. He is an international speaker and a tenured professor at Smith College in MA.


He talked about the vulnerability for hoarding in his talk namely stating there are 5 factors which would make someone vulnerable to hoarding behaviors. 

1. Genetics

Fifty percent of hoarding disorder is genetic. It may not always manifest as collecting and acquiring, but it is largely expressed in information processing deficits. For instance, adult children who grew up in a hoarded household may experience difficulties with attention, categorization, memory and complex thinking. 


2. Poor health of disability

Research has shown that people with hoarding disorder have a higher BMI than a typical person without hoarding behaviors. At this point, there is no known reason for this.


3. Early history of loss or trauma 

At least half of all cases of hoarding disorder have a link to a loss or trauma history. 


4. Comorbidity 

More than 70% of cases have some comorbidity. According to studies, half of the cases are depressed, one third has a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and another third struggle with anxiety whether that be generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or social anxiety. 


5. Emotional Dysregulation

Reportedly there is a high degree of negative urgency with people who hoard. What this means is that they have a tendency to experience such emotional distress that they engage in a dysfunctional behavior to cope. Ie; I have to obtain this item or I will die!


These vulnerabilities often lead to information processing problems, faulty beliefs about saving and attachments to items, and dysfunctional behavior patterns. It's a recipe that leads to CLUTTER.


If you or someone you know is prone to these factors, please seek help. 

There is a Virtual Hoarding Center for information and supportive workshops:

You can check out support groups:

You can find a Professional Organizer in your area who specializes in chronic disorganization:


Feel free to check out my Psychology Today profile to see if I would be a good fit for you or your loved one.


Here's a shot of me with my fellow Pro Organizer colleagues who also attended Dr. Frost's conference. I'm the one on the far left and Dr. Frost is in the necktie. 

Image may contain: 8 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor


Please share this with someone who could benefit from this information.

Thank you!



Categories: Mental Health / Hoarding


  • Wow, I'm really struck by that genetics statistic. I had no idea! I am so thankful for all the great research being done to understand this behavior. I'm sure some of these are causal, while others are simply related. Understanding is always the first step toward being able to bring relief. Way to go, NAPO-CT organizers, for being a part of this initiative, and hence part of the solution!
    5/18/2018 7:05:34 AM Reply
    • @Seana Turner: Yes, that was a surprising statistic. It's so great that we have this in-state task force to bring this disorder to light and to provide such sound interventions and treatment techniques for it.
      5/18/2018 2:36:13 PM Reply

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