This is considered hoarding

In therapies it sometimes becomes clear by chance that patients have a problem with Collecting and hoarding have, be it that this is mentioned in passing or that this problem becomes clear through exposure exercises (e.g. in the case of obsessive-compulsive disorder) in patients at home.

For a long time, this problem was understood as a subgroup of obsessive-compulsive disorder or as a criterion for compulsive personality disorders, before it became clearer that this problem has specific characteristics and must be viewed as a disorder in its own right. Estimates assume that in Germany (probably similar in Switzerland) every twentieth person thereby experienced a massive impairment (in himself and in his environment).
Collecting and hoarding was initially a sensible behavior for people (e.g. collecting food, firewood), but it developed into a great burden and restriction for those affected, so that in the diagnosis manual DSM-5 the Diagnosis pathological hoarding (in the group of obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders).

criteria are: Persistent difficulty in giving away or throwing away personal items, regardless of their real value; Feeling like keeping possessions too have to; Massive tension when trying to get rid of them, which leads to overcrowding or even littering of the apartment, so that the use of the apartment - including garages, courtyard entrances, work environment - and everyday domestic, social or professional everyday life is impaired.

reasons for hoarding: The emotional meaning of objects (e.g. memories) or the identification with objects (throwing away feels like part of yourself being destroyed). Also the supposed informational content (e.g. magazines, invoices), the The idea of ​​still being able to use the items or the aesthetic value (e.g. an interesting shape, a special color: a 'special treasure') can be other reasons.

Typically, however, not much time is spent with all of these items, often to avoid the thought of throwing them away. Pathological hoarding - as opposed to collecting - is spoken of when there is harms one's own well-being and that of other people and the suffering cannot be ended on its own.That is untreated Usually chronically progressive, d. H. the symptoms increase with age and are often associated with other mental disorders (e.g. compulsive, excessive buying or kleptomania, ADHD or social anxiety).

Significant factors in its formation and maintenance appear dysfunctional core beliefs to be in the area Self worth (unlovable or incapable), Model behavior of primary caregivers, Exposure to depression, anxiety and physical illness, Problems with theInformation processing (e.g. maintaining alertness, ordering things, planning actions, and making decisions), eventually unfavorable assumptions about the importance or value of objects, a high level of responsibility, feelings of vulnerability, sadness, guilt or anger and distrust in one's own memory performance. Pathological hoarding can do that function have to give security, trigger joy (e.g. if something turns out to be useful), but also avoid negative feelings that would arise if thrown away

Therapeutic The first step is to jointly develop an individual model for the creation and maintenance, to work out precise behavioral analyzes, so that afterwards in 'tempting situations' (e.g. buy, accumulate) new coping strategies to develop and practice, practice, practice (exposure). In addition to the 'accumulating nothing new', there is the Phase of tidying up and throwing away with the help of 'decision lists' worked out in the therapy and working out the concrete procedure.


Külz, K. A., Voderholzer, U. (2018). Pathological hoarding. Göttingen: Hogrefe. Advances in psychotherapy. Volume 69.

Lic. Phil. Barbara Heiniger Haldimann