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Inside E Street

Hoarding: A Growing Disorder

We all enjoy having stuff, but when is it too much?

Hoarding is a growing phenomenon that particularly affects older adults. It’s a mental illness typically hidden behind closed doors but is increasingly getting more public attention.

See also: The difference between hoarding disorder and OCD.

Cities and towns are becoming burdened by this public health issue that poses a danger to the hoarder, first responders and the community. Treatment is difficult and there is no cure. 

The International OCD Foundation estimates that 1 in 20 people hoard.  According to the Mayo Clinic, hoarding can begin in early adolescence and tends to get worse with age. People are more likely to become compulsive hoarders if they have close family members who hoard. Some people develop hoarding after a stressful life event.

Inside E Street talks to Gloriana Welsch from Milford, Conn. — who denies she’s a hoarder. Welsch owns approximately 2,000 pairs of shoes. A lot of the rooms in her house are so full of stuff that they are uninhabitable. To her, that’s not hoarding, it’s just clutter.

Also, Lark McCarthy has an eye-opening discussion with Randy Frost, professor of psychology at Smith College and co-author of Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, and Cynthia Lester, filmmaker and director of the documentary My Mother’s Garden. Her film tells the story of her mother’s struggle with hoarding. Frost and Lester share their firsthand experiences of dealing with hoarders and help us understand what goes on in the hoarder’s mind. They also share advice on what you can do to help your loved ones who may have a hoarding disorder.

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