Pathological hoarding by children and adolescents
background There is a dearth of knowledge and understanding concerning hoarding by children and adolescents. Psychiatrists need to know more about the phenomenon of hoarding since it can be a marker of psychopathology and it sometimes is symptomatic of a psychiatric disorder.
aim To review hoarding from an epidemiological and psychopathological perspective and to discuss it in relation to the developmental aspect of the first object acquisition: the transitional object.
method We conducted a literature search in PubMed, Medline, Psycinfo and the Cochranedatabase using primarily the search term ‘hoarding’, but also in combination with the terms: primates, child, adolescent, psych*, klepto*, transitional object, obsessive-compulsive disorder, collecting and attachment.
results Both animals and humans engage frequently in collecting and hoarding. Up to 60% of normally functioning children and adolescents are involved in collecting. A strong emotional attachment to possessions may be a response to an attachment problem. Hoarding combined with psychopathology is seen in persons of all ages but the prevalence rates for children and adults are unknown.
conclusion Hoarding is a worrisome type of behaviour which must be regarded as an indication of serious comorbid psychopathology. It can occur either as a symptom of an existing disorder or as a separate disorder. Finally we recommend that hoarding be included in the diagnostic criteria of the dsm and icd.