By: David Van Nuys, Ph.D.
"...David: So how did you come to be interested in OCD and hoarding, in particular?
Gail Steketee: Well, the OCD part came many, many years ago, I think probably more than 30 at this point - or at least pushing 30 - when I worked as a young clinician on a complicated case of a young man who had been unable to complete his medical career because he had extensive washing routines. And I enjoyed very much working with him. He had a very successful outcome and I was hooked in doing, at that time, the behavioral treatments, the exposure and response prevention that we did for OCD, and still do very successfully for OCD. The hoarding interest came from my work with Dr. Randy Frost, who's at Smith College. Randy became interested in looking at hoarding symptoms because he had been giving an OCD seminar to his undergraduate students at Smith, and one of the students had picked out hoarding as a class project to work on; in fact, I think there were several students working on it. And when they put an ad in the newspaper to try to do some interviews and collect some information from people that they called pack rats, they got a very large number of responses. And as they collected the information they became more and more interested and aware of the magnitude of the problem and the prevalence of the problem.
David: It sounds like they were shocked that they received so big a response.
Gail Steketee: Yes, they were definitely surprised. And as he and his students continued to work on it - and Randy and I had been working on other OCD-related research - he finally said to me that I think that we can't ignore this, I think it's very important. And so I started paying more and more attention, and I agreed with him very quickly that this is a remarkably common problem and can be quite a severe one. In fact, the thing that disturbs us all is when it's life threatening and that does happen to some people; fortunately it's rare..." More