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Compulsive Hoarding in Children: Six Case Studies

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Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the parents of six children who showed signs of compulsive hoarding. The cases revealed a wide variety of hoarding behaviors. Hoarding manifested in difficulties in discarding and maintaining control over possessions. Few cases had problems with clutter or excessive acquisition. In three cases hoarding was episodic and stress-related. Most of the cases showed overlapping ADHD symptoms and a majority demonstrated problems with perfectionism. Only two had clear obsessive-compulsive disorder, although concerns about others touching or moving possessions, which was present in all of the cases, may represent a form of ordering and arranging compulsions. None of the cases demonstrated clear insight, and several showed abnormal personification of inanimate objects and exaggerated “essentialism.”