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Conspicuous Consumption Disorder

by Abigail B. July 16th, 2005 | Mental Health
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Some people have a pathological desire to stockpile tons of stuff. What lies beneath this desire? Compulsive hoarders may fill their houses so full of stuff that they can no longer use and fill the bed, the table, or even entire rooms. They can’t invite friends over. They can’t keep track of their bills.

This disorder frequently is not discussed, much like bed wetting.  However, the latter can be treated much more easily using bed wetting alarms.

Hoarding often runs in families. It might be genetic or it might be a modeling effect. Hoarders tend to be emotional; they attach sentimental value to most of their belongings, even used paper coffee cups or outdated calendars. They’re thinking about all their stuff the way you think about the contents of your jewelry box.

Hoarders are often intelligent and well educated and they typically think in complex ways. They have more creative minds than the rest of us in that they can think of more uses for a possession than we can.

They possess a profound inability to make decisions. They cannot decide what they should be doing so on a given day they may start a dozen different projects. They also have trouble deciding how much to say They are over talkers. They have to give you every possible detail, rather than a simple answer to a question.

Hoarders actually enjoy being surrounded by all their stuff. Hoarders have less 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 who are not hoarders show elevated activity in areas that generate concerns about danger, contamination, and order.

Hands-on therapy–helping hoarders analyze their thoughts as they sift through their stuff–is crucial. The problem isn’t solved by cleaning. They can collect it again. You have to solve the problem at the decision making level.

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