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The Lived Experience of Family Members of Persons Who Compulsively Hoard: A Qualitative Study


  • Jennifer M. Sampson, MS, The Hoarding Project, Family Social Science Department, University of Minnesota.

Address correspondence to Jennifer Sampson, University of Minnesota, Family Social Science Department, 290 McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Ave., St. Paul, Minnesota 55108; E-mail:


The current study took an Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis approach to investigate the lived experiences of 12 family members of persons who hoard to better understand family members’ cognitions, emotions, perceptions, experiences, and responses in their interactions with their loved ones who hoard. Five overarching themes for the participants’ experiences of having a person who hoards in the family emerged: negative feelings toward the persons who hoard; lack of understanding of hoarding behavior; experiences of loss; internal barriers to seeking support; and internal conflicts. Clinical implications and recommendations for future research are discussed, including a proposed application of an ambiguous loss framework for understanding and working with the experiences of family members of persons who hoard.