Saturday, March 6, 2010

San Diego Hoarding Conference

Conference offers peek into hoarding

Event educates professionals on how to detect, treat mental disorder

Speakers at San Diego County's first conference on hoarding repeatedly returned to one central message Friday morning: Hoarding is not a choice.

Mark Odom, a hoarding expert from Orange County, told a crowd of interested professionals from diverse parts of government that they should get over the notion that people choose to stuff their homes with worthless junk.

"What we've discovered is it's not a decision, it's a disorder," Odom said.

The purpose of the conference was to help professionals better understand hoarding behavior and to connect those who might encounter it through their jobs with the mental health community that can offer treatment.

Hoarding is typically defined as an obsessive need to collect and keep items, even those with little or no value, regardless of the negative consequences that can result in a person's life and home. The disorder recently gained national attention through reality television shows that highlight the behavior and the personal devastation it can cause.

But experts have known about the problem for years. In 2004, Odom helped found the Orange County Task Force on Hoarding, with the goal of developing a comprehensive approach to identifying and helping individuals with the disorder. San Diego County officials are working on a similar effort, and Friday's conference was part of that response..." More

Video Report on the San Diego Hoarding Conference