Dr. David Tolin, founder of the Anxiety Disorder Center at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living, is an expert in the treatment of hoarding.
"A lot of people are messy—I'm not the cleanest person in the world either," Dr. Tolin says. "But I think where it becomes a problem is when the person is not just messy, but impaired by their clutter. What we see with Carol, and what we see with a lot of people with hoarding problems, is that they can't use significant portions of their home for the purpose that it was intended to...We also find the person's quality of life is dramatically reduced. … And then, not inconsequentially, we find it's a big problem where the person is facing real and tangible risks as a result of their clutter, whether it's a fire hazard or the problems we saw [in Carol's house] with mold and bacteria. A lot of people with hoarding face the very real risk of losing their homes because of the clutter."
Learn more about compulsive hoarding, the signs of having the problem, and resource to get help from Dr. Tolin.