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Dr. Tolin says hoarding is a disorder akin to emotional eating or taking drugs. "It's similar, particularly in the sense that it builds up so slowly that you don't even notice," he says. Compulsive hoarding "builds up slowly and you don't notice it at first and you go, 'Well, it's a little messy' and the next thing you know it's out of control."

Dr. Tolin says he will go to Krista's home to help her get started on cleaning.

"The idea is it gets the ball rolling," he says. "I think that Krista...has really taken a good first step here acknowledging that she has a problem and needs help. That's more than a lot of people with hoarding ever do. But then once we've done that, then you've got to keep the ball rolling. This is a lifetime of work that you're setting yourself up for. And you never reach a point where you say 'I'm done'."

More from Dr. Tolin:
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FROM: Inside the Secret Lives of Hoarders
Published on May 06, 2005

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