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Thread: Could Hoarding Disorder be genetic in origin?

  1. #1 Could Hoarding Disorder be genetic in origin? 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard
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    Compulsive hoarding - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Hoarding: The Basics | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA

    I am opening this thread for a discussion and if anybody is aware of any research or wants to present an opinion I am interestested.
    I am wondering if it is nurture or nature.
    So far everything I am finding seems pretty anecdotal but I have noticed a trend among some of my family member to be packrats, myself included, and we tend to save crap that really should be dumped.
    So...?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    Yeah, it almost does seem like seeking/ nesting behavior that gone haywire. It would be interesting to know if their are any neurological differences, or what parts of the brain are active when they are engaged in acquiring stuff. Some other things I wonder about is whether the problem is mainly collecting too much stuff, or inability to part with it, or both. And whether shopaholics are just higher class hoarders, but can more easily part with things because they are more financially secure. Were most hoarders always that way, or did it develop later in life, and was it suddenly or gradually?


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    We are not the only animals that hoard is correct because birds and squiirels do it too. As you mentioned nest building and shopping. Animals that face winter often hoard up supplies to get them through the cold months. Maybe this indicates evolution has a large role in this behaviour?
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    Samurai of Logic Falconer360's Avatar
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    My dad has gradually become more of a hoarder. He always had pack-rat qualities, however as he's gotten older it seems to have gotten worse. When he was younger he kept things like screws, bolts, broken things that could be fixed, generally useful things overall. Now that he's gotten older, he pretty much keeps everything other than straight up trash. An example would be his collection of dead flashlights that he insists he can either fix or use for parts. I could understand keeping the bulbs as long as they weren't blown. But he keeps the whole damn things. His Aunt was a severe hoarder in later life, so I definitely believe it has genetic origins.
    "For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled." Hunter S Thompson

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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    It is only a disorder to those people who lack the imagination to see how these things could come in useful at some point. (Also having a six bedroom house is helpful.)
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    Samurai of Logic Falconer360's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    It is only a disorder to those people who lack the imagination to see how these things could come in useful at some point. (Also having a six bedroom house is helpful.)
    I think when it is like the case of my Great Aunt, who literally had trails through the rubbish in her house then it becomes a disorder. I don't see anything wrong with having lots of belongings, especially books. I'm only 24 and I damn near have a library. But they are shelved properly and I have the space for them.
    "For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled." Hunter S Thompson

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    Some descriptions of compulsive hoarding are consistent with compulsive hoarders being indecisive. In fact, there is neurological support for a hoarding-indecision link:

    The Psychology of . . . Hoarding | Mind & Brain | DISCOVER Magazine

    Compulsive hoarding, unlike obsessive-compulsive disorder, does not respond to treatment with antidepressant drugs, and unlike sufferers of obsessive-compulsive disorder, hoarders actually enjoy being surrounded by all their stuff. “Hoarding seems to be more like compulsive gambling or compulsive shopping because it’s pleasurable to the person,” Maltby says. Moreover, positron-emission tomography brain scans indicate that hoarding and obsessive-compulsive disorder may be quite distinct. In a study published in the June American Journal of Psychiatry, Saxena reported that hoarders have lower activity in the cingulate gyrus—a structure that runs through the middle of the brain, front to back—particularly in areas known to be involved in decision making and focusing attention. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder who are not hoarders do not exhibit this characteristic at all; their brains, in contrast, show elevated activity in areas that generate concerns about danger, contamination, and order.
    There are other studies that have found such a link; I've found some abstracts from PubMed:

    Neurobiology and treatment of compulsive hoarding.
    An exploratory study of the neural mechanisms of decision making in compulsive hoarding.
    To discard or not to discard: the neural basis of hoarding symptoms in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
    Neuroimaging and the neurobiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder
    Cerebral glucose metabolism in obsessive-compulsive hoarding.

    The bottom one is for the paper that the Discover magazine article had referred to.

    This suggests a therapy for compulsive hoarding: getting oneself to become more decisive. If one can practice doing that, then one can tell oneself "I firmly decide to throw that out!!!"
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    My thoughts on the matter are that hoarding has only become possible since we ceased to be nomadic hunter/gathers.

    Previously, we would have only been able to hoard what we could carry or cache, just like many other animals which do so, such as squirrels, beaver and grey jays in this part of the world. Many other species have adapted to the 'feast or famine' model.

    Some of our nature to retain things probably comes from a sense of insecurity about being able to replace certain things in the future and may have been learned during lean times such as the Great Depression and WW1 and WW2.

    In the case of people who completely fill their living space with things that are beyond redundant and still continue to purchase even when they have no more room to put things, I would have to suspect a neural disorder rather than a learned or conditioned response.
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    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scheherazade View Post
    My thoughts on the matter are that hoarding has only become possible since we ceased to be nomadic hunter/gathers.

    Previously, we would have only been able to hoard what we could carry or cache, just like many other animals which do so, such as squirrels, beaver and grey jays in this part of the world. Many other species have adapted to the 'feast or famine' model.

    Some of our nature to retain things probably comes from a sense of insecurity about being able to replace certain things in the future and may have been learned during lean times such as the Great Depression and WW1 and WW2.

    In the case of people who completely fill their living space with things that are beyond redundant and still continue to purchase even when they have no more room to put things, I would have to suspect a neural disorder rather than a learned or conditioned response.
    This may seem a little off topic, but I've often wondered if obesity doesn't have a similar mechanism. It's usually regarded as a consequence of a sedentary life style, or bodies designed to conserve calories, but I also wonder if the compulsion to eat, when we really don't need to, isnt neurological as well. When I worked in an office with several women, I noticed how much time they spent talking about food - where they went to dinner last night, what they brought for lunch, whats on sale at the grocery store this week, what new recipe they discovered, foods that bother them, foods they are allergic to, foods that Dr. Oz says are super healthy, or bad for you. Seriously, it went on all day long. And quite often it was accompanied by someone reaching for a snack. Like collecting other things, gathering food probably took a lot more time and effort in our evolutionary history, and even though we don't have to devote nearly as much thought to it now, perhaps our brains are still wired to spend a lot of time thinking about it.
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  11. #10  
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    First, I want to thank Ipetrich for that interesting Discovery article. To me it was definitely worth reading.
    I appreciate the comment from Scheherazade about animals caching their food too.

    About DianeG's comment I have another question. What about banking? Is piling up money related to hoarding? What if it goes to the point of miserdom?
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    I took the time with my morning coffee to read all of the links posted to this thread, which I find both an interesting and timely topic as I have been gradually taking stock of and winnowing down my 'possessions' for over a year now and becoming much more conscious about each and everything I purchase for a wide variety of reasons, but mostly to conserve both energy and money for future retirement. It's 'use it or lose it' with me going forward.

    Firstly, I doubt anyone would consider me a 'hoarder' for I maintain all of my stuff in a somewhat orderly fashion and my home is quite tidy and spacious. Secondly, I select purchases for their enduring attributes and so many of my possessions are valued because they are of better quality than today's offerings. Thirdly, many northerners have a wide selection of items for the simple fact that availability is a factor when you reside a long ways off the beaten path. It has only been within the last two decades that large corporate retail stores have come to the Yukon, offering larger selections and better pricing although not necessarily great quality.

    Which leads me to pose the question of how much influence our 'consumer society mentality' and easily available credit has upon affecting our decisions to purchase and stockpile?

    I confess that I am a tiny bit suspicious of the recent trend to identify a 'genetic link' to just about everything out there, which of course then suggests that there will be a 'marketable solution' forthcoming.
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    It is only a disorder to those people who lack the imagination to see how these things could come in useful at some point. (Also having a six bedroom house is helpful.)
    Interesting comment. Is hoarding itself the disorder? Do we consider it a disorder only when it impacts hygiene? What is the difference between collecting and hoarding if not simply organization?
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post

    Interesting comment. Is hoarding itself the disorder? Do we consider it a disorder only when it impacts hygiene? What is the difference between collecting and hoarding if not simply organization?
    It is hoarding if there is a television crew going through your stuff.
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    I think there must be a "collecting" circuit in our brains, which probably developed to collect food, but which in modern society, has become distorted into collecting/hoarding all sorts of things. An example of how weird this can get is the guys you see at train stations and airports, collecting train or plane numbers. What's that all about? - it's not even useful.

    Whether it is learned or genetic? Well, does anyone teach hoarding/collecting ? I don't know.

    OB
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    I dunno about genetic. But some hoarding is acquired, e.g. by people who've adapted to poverty. In Canada it's especially characteristic of the generation who survived the Depression. And then their children learn the behaviour as normal, and so on. My own grandmother grew up on a farm in the Depression, then widowed raised five children on welfare... so naturally she's a hoarder by modern standards and can't change her ways. Here I'm talking about hoarding as frugality taken to its creative extreme, saving any little thing one might possibly *use*, which is different - I guess - from collecting things only to expand a collection.
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    The opposite extreme, consumption, is equally a problem for the huge amounts of waste it generates and the need to dispose of it. Dilution is no longer the solution to pollution when there remains nowhere left to disperse our excesses.



    For some time now, we have been admonished to 'Reduce, reuse and recycle', which is not unlike 'hoarding' save in volume of accumulation and purposing that which is being collected.
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