Monday, March 29, 2010

Professor's exploration of hoarding garners attention

By: Clare Lynch

Almost two decades ago, psychology professor Randy Frost's involvement with hoarding began with an inauspicious question posed in a seminar on obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"One of the students asked about hoarding, and I said I didn't know anything about it, and nobody else did either, because you don't see it often," Frost said. "We decided to see if we could find someone who had this problem who would be willing to be interviewed for the project. So we put an ad in the newspaper looking for pack rats or chronic savers, and we got a hundred telephone calls."

Frost's research has advanced rapidly since 1991. He is now a nationally known expert on compulsive hoarding behavior. His book on hoarding, Stuff, co-written with Gail Steketee, will be published in April.

Hoarding itself has garnered a similar increase in attention, progressing from a little-known subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder to a field in its own right.

Compulsive hoarding behavior has three components, Frost explained. Hoarders first have problems with over-acquisition through compulsive buying or collecting of free objects. They then become so attached to those objects that they are unable to let them go. Finally, hoarders have a problem organizing their belongings..."