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What causes people to Hoard?

The recent discovery of hundreds of dead birds being hoarded by a Monmouth County SPCA volunteer has many wondering what leads to such extreme behavior.

Boxes stacked in a closet
Boxes stacked in a closet (Townsquare Media NJ)

Psychologist Dr. Steven Tobias explained, sometimes hoarding is so outrageous and extreme that people can’t empathize like they would for someone suffering from sadness and depression.

“First thing to understand that it is a very severe psychological disorder,” Tobias said. “People who hoard things suffer from a mental disability.” The more stuff a person hoards, the better they feel. “That’s why it gets exacerbated beyond any realm of rationalization.” Tobias said.

Just the idea of letting go of things fills hoarders with anxiety. “At some level the person knows that they shouldn’t be doing this. They know that it doesn’t make sense. They know that it’s a problem” said Tobias.

There is hope. Tobias said hoarding can be treated successfully with medication and behavioral strategies.

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