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OCPD case study

The following (edited) case study is taken from a published account of compulsive-obsessive hoarding:

The client, D, lived with her two children, aged 11 and 14, and described her current hoarding behaviour as a 'small problem that mushroomed' many years ago, along with corresponding marital difficulties. D reported that her father was a hoarder and that she started saving when she was a child. In addition to hoarding, she reported several other obsessive-compulsive symptoms, such as fear of hurting others due to carelessness, an over-concern with dirt and germs, a need for symmetry and a need to know or remember things. D also suffered from a handwashing compulsion and engaged in lengthy cleaning rituals of household items. The volume of cluttered possessions took up approximately 70 per cent of the living space in her house. With the exception of the bathroom, none of the rooms in the house could easily be used for their intended purpose. Both of the doors to the outside were blocked, so entry to the house was through the garage and the kitchen, where the table and chairs were covered with papers, newspapers, bills, books, half-consumed bags of chips and her children's school papers dating back ten years.


D almost certainly fits the bill for a compulsive-obsessive disorder patient. She displays a/an:

  • Abnormal preoccupation with lists, rules, and minor details (a need to know or remember things, hand washing compulsion, a need for symmetry)
  • Miser attitude or a lack of generosity (started saving young for an imagined catastrophe)
  • Refusal to throw anything away (pack-rat mentality)
  • Rigidity and inflexibility attitude towards morals or ethical code (fear of hurting others)
  • Upset front and off-balanced life when rules or established routines are disrupted (marital difficulties)

Content outline


  • Cognitive-behavioral treatment of compulsive hoarding: a multiple baseline experimental case study
    • Hartl TL, Frost RO. (1999). Behavior Research and Therapy, 37 (5), 451-61.