Actual and perceived memory deficits in individuals with compulsive hoarding


  • This research was presented at the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, November 1999, Toronto, Canada.


Memory problems have been hypothesized to underlie compulsive hoarding behavior [Frost and Hartl, 1996: Behav Res Ther 34:341–350]. This study examined memory performance, memory confidence, and memory beliefs in 22 individuals with severe hoarding symptoms and 24 matched normal control subjects. Participants were administered two measures of learning and memory that required strategic planning and organization for successful performance: the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test (RCFT) and California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT). Self-reports of memory confidence, perceived consequences of forgetting, importance of remembering, and need to keep possessions in sight also were assessed. In comparison to controls, participants with compulsive hoarding recalled less information on delayed recall of the RCFT and CVLT and used less effective organizational strategies on the RCFT but not the CVLT. Hoarders also reported significantly less confidence in their memory, more catastrophic assessments of the consequences of forgetting, and a stronger desire to keep possessions in sight. Results provide initial evidence of learning and memory impairment and poor memory confidence in subjects with compulsive hoarding. Depression and Anxiety 00:000–000, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.