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Animal hoarding: A comprehensive psychological review of the general hoarding literature and future study proposal

26 July 2004


Hoarding behaviors, and especially animal hoarding behaviors, are inadequately illustrated in psychological literature. A small body of research suggests that animal hoarding behaviors· may have a high degree of correlation to psychological pathology. However, animal hoarding has not been specifically connected to identifiable Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV-TR, American Psychiatric Association, 2003) diagnoses, making it challenging for mental health professionals to ethically design appropriate interventions and work competently with this population. Animal hoarders are more likely to interact with our legal system, county authorities, and animal protection agencies and not with the mental health community due to a lack of understanding and awareness of this problem. This paper uncovers possible psychopathology consistent with general hoarding behaviors. It will also look at these factors related to animal hoarding behaviors and argues for more appropriate interaction with the mental health community. Due to the lack of research on animal hoarding in addition to inadequately established conceptualization and treatment interventions, mental health professionals are challenged with the task of determining how to provide safe, competent, ethical and culturally sensitive treatment for these patients. This paper reviews current literature on general hoarding to help mental health professionals better understand the challenges associated with animal hoarding. Suggestions for further research and treatment options are offered as well.


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