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Is Hoarding Hereditary?

Is Hoarding Hereditary?

hereditary hoardingSometimes children of hoarders may develop hoarding tendencies of their own. Many people who hoard may have a family member, such as a parent or grandparent, who currently hoards or previously hoarded as well. According to the International OCD Foundation, “50 to 80% of people who hoard had first-degree relatives whom they considered ‘pack rats’ or hoarders.” Could these hoarding tendencies be an acquired habit due to seeing a parent(s) hoard items or could it possibly be inherited? It is believed that mental conditions, such as Depression and OCD, can be inherited, so why would hoarding be any different?

Compulsive hoarding is a compulsion, an urge to acquire and hold on to items. Sufferers of compulsive hoarding have a strong attachment to their possessions, no matter how little value they may hold, and therefore, have difficulty parting with their items. There can be various causes of hoarding from a traumatic loss of a loved one to being linked as a symptom of another mental condition, such as OCD. Hoarding isn’t simply a physical issue, even though the habit highly impacts the physical world with the collection of clutter. Individuals who hoard have the compulsion to do so rather than willingly sign themselves up for a life of clutter because they thoroughly enjoy living in a burrow of items. Though some people may try to resolve a hoarding situation solely by a physical hoarding cleanup, it is not always an effective method since the psychological aspects of hoarding remained unaddressed.

Often generations may carry on hoarding habits of their own. Hoarding can run in families but the question is: can hoarding be inherited or are children simply modeling the behavior they learned from their parent(s)? Various studies continue to be conducted to determine if genetics are directly involved in compulsive hoarding. John Hopkins University School of Medicine had conducted a gene research study in 2007, which suggested “that a region on chromosome 14 may be linked with compulsive hoarding in families with OCD… Families with two or more hoarding relatives showed a unique pattern on chromosome 14, whereas the other families’ OCD was linked to chromosome 3.” Though this reveals a possible correlation, the exact link to hoarding and DNA has yet to be determined. Family hoarding may simply be explained by exposure to family members who hoard. We may pick up habits, good and bad, from studying our parents and other close adults within the family; this is how people learn and it may lead to children learning hoarding habits. In such situations, each individual may react differently, as some may develop their own hoarding habits as a result of exposure to such habits during their youth while others may choose to negate such habits.

What do you think: can hoarding habits develop within the DNA, are they simply an acquired habit from exposure to this collecting practice, or could it simply vary case-by-case, some situations being a result of heredity compulsions while others are learned habits?

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