Hoarding may be bizarre enough behavior to sustain several reality TV shows, but, surprisingly, it isn't an official psychiatric disorder.
That may change in May 2013, and University of Pennsylvania therapists will play a key role in the decision.
Penn Medicine is one of seven institutions chosen as field trial sites for the forthcoming edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5. Therapists at Penn's outpatient mental health clinic will test how well the revised guide to mental illnesses, which introduces hoarding disorder, works in the real world. They'll see whether therapists agree on diagnoses for patients with generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and hoarding, anxious depression, binge eating, and personality disorders.
The current 943-page DSM was updated in 2000. It is used for research and billing. It is also a measure of how society distinguishes normal behavior and eccentricity from illness.
The challenge is to more clearly define mental illnesses "within the context of culture," said Mahendra Bhati, a Penn psychiatrist who will lead the field trials here.. More