Hoarders are those who have an uncontrollable urge to accumulate possessions and experience mental anguish at the thought of parting with them. Until 2013, the mental health world considered hoarding disorder to be one version of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. But new research into people’s brains changed all that, according to an article in Curiosity.
For a study published in the 2012 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, researcher David Tolin and his team scanned the brains of about 100 participants. Roughly a third were diagnosed with hoarding disorder, another third had OCD, and the final third were considered normal controls. The participants brought a few pieces of junk mail to the lab (with the assurance that they’d get it back at the end of the experiment), each of which the researchers labeled “Yours” and shuffled in with junk mail from the lab labeled “Ours.” The participants went in a brain scanner, then were asked to decide whether to keep or shred each piece of mail.