As previously discussed in my post titled “Fear of Mistakes,” people with OCPD avoid making mistakes because their all-or-nothing thinking hyperbolizes the consequences. It is this same fear that causes some people with OCPD (those who are not so concerned with cleanliness) to hoard.

People with OCPD who are not so concerned with cleanliness hoard because their all-or-nothing thinking hyperbolizes the consequences of the wrongful disposal of things that have value.

To a person with OCPD, every item has value. If there is no beneficial use for something now, there very well might be some beneficial use for it in the future.

In high school, I once had an impressive collection of my own pubic hair inside a Ziploc bag that I stored away in my desk because I thought I might use it as a prank on someone later. Another OCPD friend of mine, for the same reason, managed a jar full of his own urine inside his closet during the same time in his life. We now both look back and laugh at how odd we once used to be.

Just as inaction is the result of an OCPDer’s difficulty to part with one of his or her options, inaction is also the result of an OCPDer’s difficulty to part with one of his or her belongings. Instead of throwing them away, most people with OCPD will tend to let things of little value just sit around and take up space.


  • You have a gift of foresight – You can see the potential value in people, ideas, and objects more than others.
  • You have a gift for archiving – Your mind is designed to be good with keeping track of the whereabouts of an extensive number of objects.


If you are living or working with other people, identify the private spaces that are yours and the public spaces that are shared with other people. In your mind, draw an imaginary line dividing those spaces. If you are going to neglect taking action in disposing items of little value, do that in your own private space and do not let your things spill over that line. If you have reached the capacity of your private space, ask the people you live with or work with if you may extend the perimeters of your private space. After all, your extension will result in the reduction of their public space or even their private space. If they decline your request, do not take it personally. Why should you be entitled to more private space than everyone else anyway? From that point on, if a new item must be archived within your clutter, make room for it by disposing the least important item of your collection. If others come into your private space and move your belongings in a way that you cannot access what you need anymore, communicate openly with them about the fear that you have concerning the whereabouts of your belongings. Kindly request them to respect your private space. If others continue to disrespect your private space, you may resort to using locks to prevent further intrusions.

If you live or work with a friend with OCPD, do not spoil your friend by giving him or her infinite space for his or her hoarding tendencies. Remind your friend nicely of the private spaces that are reserved for his or her own use and the public spaces that are shared with others. If your friend begins to take up space in shared areas, notify him or her right away before he or she has established that area as a permanent home for his or her personal items of value. Give your OCPD friend the chance to move it back him or herself. Warn your friend that, if he or she does not move it in a specified amount of time, you will move it back into his or her private space where it belongs. Finally, respect your friend’s private space and do not remove anything. If you believe something must be removed, consult with your OCPD friend first before touching it.

Keep your personal items out of public spaces and give yourself a maximum capacity for your private spaces so that you will be forced to learn how to throw things away.

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7 thoughts on “Hoarding

  1. I also think it is important to have rules re: hoarding items that may be a potential heath hazard. So, even if it’s in the other person’s side of the closet, keeping jars of urine – not acceptable. Spoiled food in the refrigerator – not acceptable. If somebody feels the need to hoard something skeevy like pubic hair, nail clippings, etc., even if it’s in your personal space, I don’t want to SEE it.

  2. Nick says:

    Not all OCPDrs hoard. While it used to be one of the criterion for OCPD, the later literature (2009 and after) have removed it from the diagnosis of OCPD. I think that this is because hoarding cuts against the OCPDr’s interest in order and perfection in their living space. BTW, notice the extreme order in the plates and other items depicted in the picture. My understanding is that an OCD individual (as opposed to OCPD) or a general pack rat, who will hoard for the sake of hoarding, typically has clutter in their liviing space. But an OCPDr that hoards will have orderliness in the hoarded items. Also, since my ex-spouse’s father hoards, I think she learned not to hoard because she did not like that aspect of her dad’s personality. This theory may explain why some OCPDrs do not satisfy certain criteria of the OCPD diagnosis. That is, if a close family member has a problem or issue that they despise, they will be obsessed or adverse to adopt that mannerism. Any thoughts?

    • dankimwriter says:

      That’s true. An OCPDer’s hyper passion for cleanliness can eliminate the clutter affect of hoarding altogether. In my case, my passion for efficiency exceeds my passion for cleanliness, causing me to arrange my belongings in the most easily accessible manner (most others would perceive my arrangement as disorderly clutter). I do not like the hoarding aspect of my mother, so I too, just like your ex-spouse, plan to go the other way once I move out and have my own place.

    • Bob says:

      I think there is a lot of variance in this. I live with an OCPD person who absolutely can not throw out ANYTHING because it might prove useful someday. It is unbelievable. emply paint cans, frying pan missing a handle, all potentially useful…Everything is stacked on top of everything else in such an unorderly mess it is unbelievable, unless he is forced for some reason to organize it. He then has everything placed with military precision, not a speck of excess space, neat as a pin. There is no in between.

  3. Jack3d says:

    I love your work. You absolutely must keep up the good work.

    • Godith says:

      Yes, please keep up the good work. I’d like to see more on the topic of hoarding. The word connotes people with hundreds of cats. But I think hoarding is often much more subtle. Someday I’ll use these electronic cords or these subway tickets with just 25 cents left on them. Or I can’t give away my doll I got in 5th grade. This kind of hoarding is not psychotic. Please do more posts on the more typical hoarding. Thanks.

  4. Nicola says:

    The realisation I’ve had thrust upon me is the scope to which an individual can hoard. It never occurred to me that one could hoard actual space. To cram everything into allocated areas only (so u can’t actually reach the things you want without taking everything out to get to it) while mantaining vast amounts of space everywhere else.

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