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date: 20 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Little recorded evidence for pathological hoarding exists prior to the twentieth century. “Hoarding” has meant different things across different cultures and epochs. Beginning in prehistoric times as a way to secure basic necessities, it has progressed as a way to protect valuables from unrest and crime. Hoarding became enshrined in mythology, and in classical times, hoarders were viewed as misers. The early Catholic Church labeled acquisitiveness as sinful. Hoarding entered the world of literature via the works of Dante and Renaissance drama and continued through the nineteenth century. At this point, social and behavioral scientists began to study hoarding, characterizing it as a mental illness. In the early twentieth century, Freud and others sought its origins within the psyche. Modern media also served to raise public awareness of the problem. In the last decade of the twentieth century, scientific scrutiny was finally applied to hoarding.

Keywords: hoarding, misers, saving, collecting, greed

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