Emotional attachment also plays a strong role in compulsive hoarding, Dr. Tolin says. "People have lots of different pathways that they get to this hoarding behavior," he says. "But one thing that we do see is that growing up in this kind of environment leaves a scar, and the children of people who hoard grow up profoundly affected by the environment that they were living in."
In fact, Jennifer and Ron's children were starting to model their parents' behaviors. When the couple called in professional organizers, their oldest son tried to stop a crew member from breaking down an old, unsafe playhouse. "The most difficult part about that for me was understanding what that meant for him," Jennifer says. "That he was already so very much attached to his stuff instead of people."
Watch Jennifer and Ron's cleanup process.