Hoarding AND Animal Hoarding Essay
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Hoarding Disorder and Animal Hoarding
Hoarding disorder affects about 2 to 5 per cent of the population and is characterized by a persistent attitude of acquiring and keeping stuffs and the difficulty of discarding those items (Anxiety). The habit of gathering and keeping things may affect individuals of all age groups, but is usually noted to occur between 20 to 30 years of age (Steketee). People with this disorder have an impulsive inclination to collect items that they perceived to be of value, but are often seen by others as worthless. Interestingly, this illness is associated with animal hoarding, an impulsive compulsion to collect animals, but of eventually showing no empathy in caring for these pets. Incidentally, reports reveal that about 40% of individuals who hoard items are also animal hoarders (Cassiday). These behaviours are reportedly suggestive of abnormal psychological processes or cognitive activity (Brown and Meszaros). The hoarding practice often leads to clinical distress symptoms in the social, occupational, and other significant orders of normal functioning. This paper aims to study the neuroanatomical, neurophysical, and neurochemical perspectives of hoarding and animal hoarding.
People with hoarding disorder usually show signs of extreme perfectionism accompanied by an anthropomorphic attachment to their possessions, the dread of committing incorrect choices, as well as the anxiety over losing these items. Hoarders generally avoid making decisions of discarding their collections, fearing that they may be tossing away stuffs that may be valuable in the future. Unfortunately, patients with this illness are often unaware of the severity of their condition (Mataix-Cols), and as a result, well-meaning interventions of concerned individuals usually lead to undue resistance.
On the other hand, animal hoarding is characterized by an extreme compulsion to collect large numbers of animals. An animal hoarder may show signs of the disorder such as, a) failure to provide the minimum standard of animal care, such as feeding and sanitation, b) failure to address the worsening condition of the animals, and c) seeming lack of awareness on the possible negative effects of their collections to their health and to other people (Reinisch), and d) a strong profession that the animals in their care are healthy and well groomed despite their apparent distressful condition (American, 2015). Animal hoarders, as described by Dr. Gray Patronek, V.M.D., Ph. D., “are by definition oblivious to the extreme suffering, obvious to the casual observer, of their animals” (PETA).
Neuroanatomical/ Neurophysiological Perspectives
As suggested by primary indications, hoarding disorder (HD) is in theory an element of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); nevertheless, recent studies reveal that these maladies have distinct neural foundations. Obsessive compulsive disorder is strongly shown as a form of hyperactivity in the orbitofrontal-striatal loop, although it is also associated with a dorsolateral prefrontal-striatal loop activity (Tolin et al). An indicative observation is that the hyperactivity in these loops may affect other neural systems such as the hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex, and basolateral amygdala. On the other hand, the neuroimaging studies of hoarding disorder with the use of positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) depict a different neural dysfunction (Tolin et al). In addition to that, patients with hoarding disorder exhibit an orbifrontal cortex activity.
The primary symptomatic indications of hoarding disorder are the extreme need to acquire and helplessness in the decision to discard these accumulated objects, leading to an undue buildup of enormous clutter (Frost). A research identifies several deficits in the cognitive processes that correlate with maladaptive beliefs and patterns of behavior resulting in the specified symptoms of the disorder. Cognitive deficiencies are observed in patients with hoarding disorder such as reduction of attention span and verbal and non-verbal impairments, as well as weakening categorization aptitude and decision-making ability (Tolin et al).
The disorder is associated with impairment in the frontal cortical regions and the anterior cingulate cortex (Tolin et al); these parts of the brain aids in the proper cognitive functioning in making choices and classifications. The temporal regions, on the other hand, are linked to recall, categorization, and the connection of emotional or motivational meaning to things. Overall, neuroimaging technology reveals that compulsive hoarders show an unusual activity in their anterior cingulate cortex and the insula that is reliant to stimulus. Interestingly, the imaging indicates that HD patients have lower activity in these regions when deciding on things that did not belong to them, while it exhibits an “excessive functional magnetic resonance imaging signals” (Tolin et al) when deciding upon their belongings.
Other research indicates that hoarding compulsion is associated not only with the anterior cingulate cortex dysfunction, but also with the precentral gyrus that is the part of the brain responsible for the motor control and superior frontal gyrus for complex behavior (Baldwin). The sample of participants in one study shows that the imaginary discarding of possessions perceived by the participants to be of value results to anxiety that is linked with the left precentral gyrus functioning (Baldwin). Accordingly, recent neurophysiological information suggests that hoarding patterns may be partly caused by abnormal activity in the frontal and medial areas that is associated with decision making, emotion, and motor control processes (Baldwin).
Clinical research cites cognitive deficiency as one among the most prevalent cause of the inception of hoarding disorder. This study reveals how people who exhibits a substantial symptom of hoarding shows lesser ability to focus and are easily distracted. A controlled study discloses the following findings:
() concern about memory was one of the strongest predictors of hoarding
behavior, even after controlling for relevant covariates. Moreover, Hartl et al,
compared participants with clinical hoarding symptoms with healthy control
participants on both self-report measures about memory beliefs as well as
hoarding symptoms reported poorer confidence in their memories and
overestimates the negative consequences of forgetting (Baldwin).
It is established that people with hoarding symptoms displays a clear deficit in their executive functioning, resulting in their difficulty in parting with their “prized” belongings. The core weaknesses of individuals who hoard are relative to their feeling of anxiety and despair when thinking of letting go of their junks. An area of concern is the attachment of human-like qualities to these possessions, making the hoarder fall into depression at the thought discarding them (Steketee).
Though most of the studies conducted on the neurochemical perspective of hoarding disorder were initially done on animal experiments, a correlation is made on the hoarding practices of humans. An identified brain circuits and neurochemicals are found to induce this behavior. Dopamine is reported to encourage this disorder as exemplified by an experiment explaining that the “mesolimbic dopaminergic system is recognized for its role in motivated behaviors” (Alcaro et al). Interestingly, a study by the American Journal of Psychiatry indicates that the feeling of anxiety associated with hoarding was hypothesized to be linked to a brain imbalance prompting the chemical serotonin to induce irrational behaviors (BBC).
Hoarding is a behavioral disorder that is associated with a display of an illogical act of acquiring possessions and the inability to let go of these items. Animal hoarding, on the other hand, is the abnormal need to take as many animals into custody without the capability to care for these pets. People who suffer from hoarding disorder generally are unmindful of their conditions, and would often resent acts of good faith intrusion from others. Though it affects only a minimal number of the population, several studies were conducted to provide a better explanation why some individuals tend to have this disorder. In several studies, it is discovered that certain brain damages weaken brain regions, causing a distortion on the cognitive functioning. It is also hypothesized that a brain imbalance causes the brain chemicals to release triggering elements that induce the behavior. Numerous researches are directed at the analysis of hoarding, but each tend to be limited in scope; further investigation should therefore be conducted, especially on the chemical triggering effect of the chemical imbalances in the brain.
Alcaro, A., Huber, R., Panksepp, J., Behavioural Functions of the Mesolimbic Dopaminergic System: An Affective Neuroethological Perspective. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Animal Hoarding FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org
Anxiety and Depression Association of American. Hoarding: The Basics. Retrieved from www.adaa.org
Baldwin, G. Neuropsychological and Neurophysiological Insights into Hoarding Disorder. Retrieved from www.dovepress.com
BBC News. Hoarding not a Usual Compulsion. Retrieved from news.bbc.co.uk
Blundell, J., Strupp, B., Latahm, C., Pharmacological Manipulation of Hoarding Further Analysis of Amphetamine Isomers and Pimozide. Physiological Psychology. Retrieved from linkspringer.com
Cassiday, K., What is Animal Hoarding? Retrieved from www.adaa.org
Frost, R., Diagnosing Hoarding. International OCD Foundation. Retrieved from hoarding.iocd.org
Mataix-Cols, D., Hoarding disorder: What it is and What it is Not. Retrieved from htlpforhoarders.co.uk
Brown, W., Meszaros, Z., Hoarding. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from www.pshyciatrictimes.com
PETA. Animal Hoarders: The Illness and the Crime. Retrieved from www.peta.org
Reinisch, A. Understanding the Human Aspects of Animal Hoarding. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Steketee, G., Causes of Hoarding. International OCD Foundation. Retrieved from iocdf.org
Tolin, D., Stevens, M., Villavicencio, A., Norberg, M., Calhoun, V., Frost, R., Steketee, G., Rauch, S., Pearlson, G., Neural Mechanisms of Decision Making in Hoarding Disorder. Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
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