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Old 01-22-05, 10:30 PM
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Compusive hoarding study in Hartford CT

They're gathering info on compulsive hoarding disorder
By CHERYL B. WILSON, Daily Hampshire Gazette Staff Writer

Are you a pack rat? Do you have trouble throwing things away?

If so, now you can participate in a scientific study of your problem, which may be compulsive hoarding disorder.

Randy O. Frost, Smith College psychology professor, will lead a team of researchers from Smith, Boston University and Hartford Hospital in a four-year study funded by an $800,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Frost said he has a concurrent grant for $150,000 to develop a treatment program for the disorder.

Researchers will work with 500 people who have difficulty throwing things away and consequently live in excessive clutter.

Frost said his research began a decade ago when a student in his seminar on obsessive compulsive disorder asked about the problem of hoarding.

He discovered almost no literature on the subject, so he and the student conducted their own study on pack rats or chronic savers. Through a notice in the Gazette, they got 100 telephone calls.

''We didn't expect that volume,'' he said. ''What we learned was that lots and lots of people engage in hoarding. When they reach a point where it interferes with their ability to live, that's the point at which it becomes a disorder.''

He said the result can be living quarters so messy that basic activities such as cooking, cleaning, sleeping and moving are impossible. Obsessive hoarding can significantly compromise the living environment of the sufferer and those with and near them.

''We are going to study the phenomenon and see how it relates to other disorders like depression and attention deficit disorder. We see a lot of that,'' said Frost. ''We want to really discover something about the nature of this behavior, what happens when people acquire (things). We will go with people where they collect things.''

Frost said the disorder seems to affect people across a spectrum of professions.

''There are lots and lots of people who see their life as kind of like a library or a museum,'' he said. ''Everything they come in contact with is a representation of their life.''

Anyone wishing to participate in the study should contact the Anxiety Disorders Center at Hartford Hospital at (860) 545-7685.
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