Should Hoarding Be Classified Under OCD in the DSM-V?

Symptoms of hoarding have been studied in relation to obsessive-compulsive (OCD) behavior, but some professionals believe that hoarding should be listed as its own unique condition in the upcoming DSM-V. People who exhibit hoarding behavior acquire items excessively and obsessively, regardless of how this behavior affects them financially, physically, or mentally. They have strong emotional ties to seemingly insignificant items and become very distressed when they are forced to part with their possessions. Changing the behavior and belief system of a person who hoards is challenging for clinicians. Therefore, this foundation of beliefs and behaviors should be further examined to determine whether hoarding warrants its own classification, and also to expand intervention techniques. Kiara R. Timpano of the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami sought to gather insight into the processes that determine hoarding behavior using a community sample of 2,501 adults and two other samples of 1,649 young adult college students.

Timpano assessed each sample based on the person’s beliefs surrounding hoarding and his or her behaviors with respect to acquiring and discarding items. The results revealed that among the participants with hoarding characteristics, symptoms varied greatly from one participant to the next and appeared to be dimensional in nature. In particular, the hoarding exhibited by the participants was more directly linked to an accumulation of behaviors and beliefs rather than to the depth of those attributes. In other words, the quantity of the characteristics had a larger effect on hoarding than the quality of the beliefs and behaviors associated with acquiring or discarding.

The results suggest that hoarding symptoms should not be gauged using specific thresholds, but rather should be guided by those markers. “Our data recommend against the use of arbitrary cut-points to identify individuals with hoarding,” Timpano said. She believes that clinical criteria should contain a spectrum of hoarding symptoms, ranging from mild to severe behaviors. Additionally, psychological stress should be measured similarly and should be considered at all levels to ensure that those with mild hoarding characteristics are not excluded from clinical diagnosis and available treatment.


  1. Timpano, K. R., Broman-Fulks, J. J., Glaesmer, H., Exner, C., Rief, W., Olatunji, B. O., Keough, M. E., Riccardi, C. J., Brähler, E., Wilhelm, S., Schmidt, N. B. (2012). A taxometric exploration of the latent structure of hoarding. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029966

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  • allen

    October 8th, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    there are far too many levels of hoarding to classify it under OCD.i habitually hoard seemingly useless things like tickets but just cant kick the habit.nothin wrong in my mental health is totally fine and i have no issues whatsoever.for some of us its just a habit one that is hard to get over.theres no obsession about it!

  • theresa

    October 9th, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    Do we really need some kind of clinical diagnosis to see that hoarders have real issues and problems that don’t necessarily meet any kind of guidelines or qualifications? Couldn’t you just walk into someone’s house and know that this is behavior that they are exhibiting? And besides, I have never thought that anyone is a hoarder as a stand alone kind of illness. This is something that has to be symptomatic of something else, otherwise there is no one who would feel the need to collect like this if they weren’t doing it to cope with some other kind of problem.

  • Grace

    October 9th, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    As freaked out as we get about this, I have to think that it needs to be classified as something. Otherwise this is a losing situation for those who have this problem but they can’t find someone to treat them or their insurance won’t pay because there is no clear cut diagnosis.

  • collin reardon

    October 9th, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Any chance of seeing this obtain a separate diagnosis?

  • raegan

    October 9th, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    hoarding stems from insecurity and other things, but most often from addressing those behind-the-scenes factors first would be a good idea.

    hoarding also has different levels and I definitely think the increase in such behind-the-scenes reasons only increases the severity of hoarding itself.

  • BJ

    October 10th, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    What I am gathering that the more you have these characteristics that predict hoarding inclinations then the more likely you will be to exhibit this than those who just show one or two of the characteristics? and that this is probably something that comes on over a period of time, not necessarily overnight?

  • ConniE

    October 11th, 2012 at 4:20 AM

    I have been a hoarder. I have gotten help and yet the desire to collect and accumulate is still there with me every day.

    I know that if this is not something that you have experienced personally then you don’t know how it feels, but I will tell you that this is a sickness which I can’t cure, no one can. I have learned to take some control over, it , to manage some of these compulsions that I feel to fill up this emptiness that I have inside of me, and I am lucky that I have a family who is willing to still be around me and who can keep me on task. But for the most part I sit all day and think about the things that I need, as if those things will make me whole. Rationally I know that they won’t, but so many times in the past it has been so hard to really fully believe that.

  • Brenda

    January 25th, 2021 at 4:17 AM

    I learned to save stuff for future use from my mother and grandmother. We were larger families with modest means. We passed down clothes, furniture, household misc, and repurposed everything we could to help each other have a better life? We did not save trash, food, broken misc. (unless it could be repaired)? Grandma was born in 1900, Mom in 1930. I was born in 1953, my oldest daughters in 1973. 27 “Hoarders” in just in “my family” line. Perception is reality! At best some call it Antiques? Some call it Family Treasures? Some call it Collecting? Some call it Trash? We’re all different? But we all share the same major personality trait. KEEP what we can! SHARE what we can? It’s like going to a 120 year old garage sale !!! Some good, some not so good. As our lives took different paths so did out “Hoarding” I have my Grandmothers “Antique Radio”! 91 years old!!!

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