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Behav Res Ther. 2008 Mar;46(3):334-44. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2007.12.008. Epub 2008 Jan 3.

Family burden of compulsive hoarding: results of an internet survey.

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  • 1Anxiety Disorders Center, The Institute of Living, Hartford, CT 06106, USA. dtolin@harthosp.org

Abstract

Compulsive hoarding, the acquisition of and failure to discard large numbers of possessions, is associated with substantial health risk, impairment in functioning, and economic burden. Despite clear indications that hoarding has a detrimental effect on people living with or near someone with a hoarding problem, no empirical research has examined these harmful effects. The aim of the present study was to examine the burden of hoarding on family members. Six hundred sixty-five family informants who reported having a family member or friend with hoarding behaviors completed an internet-based survey. Living with an individual who hoards during childhood was associated with elevated reports of childhood distress and family strain. Family members reported high levels of patient rejection attitudes, suggesting high levels of family frustration and hostility. Rejecting attitudes were predicted by severity of hoarding symptoms, the individual's perceived lack of insight into the behavior, and having lived in a cluttered environment during childhood. These results suggest that compulsive hoarding adversely impacts not only the hoarding individual, but also those living with them.

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