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January 5, 2018
Q. Hoarding disorder — a reality TV staple — is estimated to afflict from 2-6 percent of U.S. adults, with newspapers, magazines, plastic bags, photographs, household appliances, food and clothing being the most common items stashed. Though many of us have some such tendencies, clinically diagnosable hoarders are extreme. Thanks to recent research, including fMRI brain scans, psychologists have uncovered characteristic personality traits. What traits?
A. Hoarders tend to have perfectionist qualities. “They might intend to read all their magazines from cover to cover before getting rid of them, for example, or they might be hampered by their desire to dispose of objects in the best way possible,” says reporter Elizabeth Landau in New Scientist magazine. They might “see beauty where others see mundaneness,” or might “think of 10 different things to do with an old soda can,” justifying keeping it. Or they may simply see their things as mementos, “even imbuing them with person-like qualities.”
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