There are 2 new studies about compulsive hoarders you might not know about.  They’re being conducted by researchers at Case Western Reserve University.  These online surveys explore the relationship between someone with OCD or Hoarding tendencies and their relatives or loved ones.  Researchers hope the information gathered from these surveys will help improve therapies for OCD and hoarding (Goodness knows we need that!), and to also create an awareness of the complexities of the relationships surrounding those with these disorders.  You must be at least 18 years old to participate.  The bonus (other than science learning more about hoarding) is that entries are eligible for a draw for a Target gift card. You can choose to remain anonymous, and the site outlines their privacy procedures right up front.

I was approached by Dr. Amy Przeworski, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychological Sciences at Case Western Reserve University.  She reached out hoping to bring more attention to her studies, and I’m so glad she did.  Currently, there’s no formal information out there about the effects of compulsive hoarding on relationships, and she seeks to change that.  Our goals are aligned, as that’s what I’m trying to do with this blog.  I sometimes compare having a relative with hoarding to having a relative who’s an alcoholic.  I don’t dispute alcoholism is terribly serious and harmful, but the stigma isn’t as severe as it is for hoarders, and there are WAY more social supports in place from rehab to 12 step recovery to groups like AA, Al-anon, and Alateen.  Other than the Children of Hoarders website and blogs like mine, relatives of hoarders are still mostly on their own,

Two Studies, Different Approaches

The 2 studies have different veins…one is for the relative or loved one of a hoarder.  I completed this one, and encourage anyone in similar shoes to do so.  It didn’t take very long, although I found some of the questions about OCD unrelated to my situation.  You can skip anything not relevant to you, but your personal experience is valid!!

The other survey is for people who hoard or those with OCD to complete.  You can imagine how difficult it is to get enough people for this one…most hoarders have a lack of insight.  They don’t see themselves as having a hoarding problem, and so simply wouldn’t even attempt to answer this survey.  I know the researchers need at least 40 more entries to get a solid base for their research, so I ask if anyone reading Not Just Clutter who IS a hoarder and are stuggling with getting better to reach out and complete this survey.

Study Links

For individuals with OCD and/or hoarding:

For relatives and significant others of those with OCD and/or hoarding:


    Posted September 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I just found your blog today and I just wanted to tell you what a great thing you are doing here. My mother-in-law is a hoarder and of course ignores that there is a problem. None of her children will discuss the topic with her because they know she will explode and then not talk to them for months. That is her personality plus that’s how she treats my father-in-law if he tries to intervene. We were at her house this past weekend and her clutter is now reaching into the “norma” rooms of her house. There is just SO much stuff. It looks very similar to your mother’s home. It’s not full of trash, it’s just stuff she has bought and most of it is stacked nicely. It’s just that there are so many stacks. She too can’t resist a bargain and she buys in lots of 3 (for her children) or 5 (for her grandchildren). It is a sad illness.

    • Rae
      Posted September 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! I’m so glad to hear that, and am grateful for my readers. I hope my experiences help others feel less shameful and alone.

  2. Cheryl Overmyer
    Posted October 25, 2015 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I may have overlooked it, but I don’t see where you may have talked about how to organize the paperwork, some are very important, some need to just keep for a year or so and some need to be trashed. I have storage bins of court papers, evidence and documents in my possession and since we are still fighting about community property 8 years after divorce, I can’t get rid of anything, as his past behavior is important to establish motive. It’s driving me crazy as when I need something I get buried in paperwork trying to find what I need. I just don’t know how to categories. Can you please help??? I’ve purchased 50 storage bins for placing everything in its place in the house, but I’m disabled and due to anxiety I don’t know how to stay on track as I will also be moving to a different location and have bins packed with things I didn’t think I would need before moving and it just happens over and over again….😰

    • Rae
      Posted December 14, 2015 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Paperwork is always a pain, isn’t it! Even in a non-hoarding house, it seems like there’s always piles of paper around.
      I’m not certain about stuff used in a court case, but the general rule of thumb I’ve read for storing official paperwork is 7 years. That’s still a lot of paper though. I think sorting through and getting rid of envelopes and inserts would be the first thing to do. Then setting up categories. Insurance (home, health, auto), Medical, Taxes, etc. Have file folders for each category and for each year. A tedious job and overwhelming sometimes though. Don’t try to do it all at once. Tackle one category at a time, or one pile at a time.

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  1. […] opportunity to write a guest post for Psychology Today.  Recently, the same doctor conducting the studies about compulsive hoarders and their relationships touched base with me and we’ve been having some great conversation […]

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