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Friday June 10, 2011

Baltimore scientists search for cause, treatment for hoarding

Samuels, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine, is the go-to guy nationwide for researchers seeking to understand the biological basis of hoarding — an intense, irrational drive to collect items in vast quantities, coupled with an inability to discard even objects that are worthless or broken.
Samuels established that hoarding occurs in approximately 5 percent of the population — a far larger number than was previously suspected — and linked compulsive hoarding behavior in some patients to chromosome 14.

“Individuals who have obsessive-compulsive disorder and individuals who hoard are different,” Samuels says. “The age of onset is later for hoarders, and the traditional treatment for OCD works poorly for people with hoarding behavior.”
In addition, he says, the two diagnoses are associated with different personality traits. People who hoard are preoccupied with details and have difficulty making decisions. On the positive side, many are creative and artistic.

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