Compulsive hoarding

Compulsive hoarding is a behaviour that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of material items which are not needed (food, furniture and other objects), and inability of throwing these items away no matter how damaged or how useless they are. Clutter resulting from hoarding usually reaches a point where rooms cannot be used for their designate purpose and/or where safety and hygiene are compromised.  This behaviour is often found in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but it can also be associated with a range of other clinical conditions such as: anorexia nervosa, depression, organic and psychotic disorders. Research identified hoarding as an independent phenomenon that is related to, but distinct from, other OCD types.

This is a serious problem that disrupts the lifestyle of hoarders and often the lives of friends, family and the community in general. Compulsive hoarding in its worst forms can cause fires and /or injuries. People who suffer from this illness will suffer from the following symptoms:

1-      Holding on to a large number of items that most people would consider useless such as: gone off food; old newspapers; broken objects; clothes that don’t fit anymore. 

2-      The house is so full that many parts are inaccessible and can no longer be used for intended purpose, For example: beds that cannot be slept in; kitchens that cannot be used, refrigerators filled with gone off food.

3-      The mess is so bad, that it can cause illness, distress, and impairment. For example: Does not allow visitors such as family and friends, or repair professionals, because they are to embarrassed about the state of the house; this can lead to arguments with members of the family about the mess in the house.

People with this condition will often feel a strong sense of emotional attachment towards their possessions. They need to feel in total control of their possessions (they cannot stand people touching or moving anything around), they will feel upset and anxious when having to make a decision about discarding things.

By acquiring and keeping possessions, the patient will feel as if they are in control of something in their lives, when they probably feel that they cannot control anything else. When seeing something that they want, they will feel like they cannot feel happy until they acquire that object.

There is no cure for compulsive hoarding, there is no treatment that will make the problem go away completely, and never come back. However some treatments may help people to manage the symptoms more effectively.

One of the known cases in the UK is the story of Richard Wallace, a 61 year old man that accumulated so much rubbish in his back garden that it could be seen from space, this aggravated his neighbours to the point where they felt that they had to contact the authorities to try and solve the problem.  Each room of Richard Wallace’s house was filled to the ceiling with personal belongings, which he considered memorabilia. But when his local council served a notice on him to remove it, he took his case to the crown court, arguing that it was his ‘human right’ to hoard junk on his land, and won.

The following pictures the state of his home.




References :

Obsessive-compulsive hoarding: Symptom severity and response to multimodal treatment. Saxena, Sanjaya; Maidment, Karron M.; Vapnik, Tanya; Golden, Gina; Rishwain, Tanya; Rosen, Richard M.; Tarlow, Gerald; Bystritsky, Alexander. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol 63(1), Jan 2002, 21-27.


Frost, R., & Gross, R. (1993). The hoarding of possessions. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 31, 367–382

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Facebook addiction disorder


A growing body of research in the area of addiction suggests that Internet Addiction Disorder is becoming a real problem. This is a real psycho-physiological disorder including , like any other addiction disorder:  withdrawal symptoms; affective disturbances; and interruption of social relationships. Nowadays the most common is Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD). Facebook is the most popular social networking of all time. The popularity of Facebook is increasing so much that soon it will reach 1 billion members.

  For a person to be diagnosed with FAD she/he has to meet a certain criteria . At least 3 of the following symptoms:

1-      Need for increasing amounts of time on Facebook (more than 5 hours per day)

2-      Withdrawal symptoms. When reducing the amount of time spend on Facebook  feeling of anxiety , obsession thinking what is written on their wall etc.

3-      Social activities are greatly reduced and  migrated to Facebook

4-      Virtual dates: It is obvious that this addiction is serious when real dates are replaced with Facebook dates.

5-      Instead of going to the movies or out to dinner, they tell their partner to be online at a certain time

In my opinion Facebook can be a real addiction  not has harmful as real drugs (alcohol ,heroin etc. )  ,  but it still affects people´s lives negatively. People across the world are spending more than 5 hours a day on Facebook instead of working and socialise in real life. Some people can stop feeling comfortable speaking to people face to face because they speak to people more often on Facebook. Other disadvantage of Facebook is that we have to be very careful with what we posted. If we poste something offensive anyone can see it , including our boss. People have been fired over something that they posted on Facebook.

 This addiction is being taken so serious that they are already rehab centres to treat facebook addiction. The first rehab Centre for internet addictions was created on America in 2009.

 In conclusion facebook has vantages and disaventages, it makes it easier to people to maintain long distance relationships . But on the other hand it can be “harmful” to people´s lives when people used to often. It is all about balance I believe that if people use it with moderation it will not cause any harm to their lives.


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MDMA (ecstasy)

MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a drug  is an entactogenic drug of the phenethylamine and amphetamine class of drugs. MDMA has become known as  “ Ecstasy”. This drug can be taken in the form of pills or powder .  MDMA is  criminalized in most countries under a United Nations (UN) agreement and its possession or sale result in criminal prosecution, although some limited exceptions exist for scientific and medical research. This drug was made illegal in the UK in 1977 by a modification order to the existing Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

MDMA can induce euphoria, a sense of intimacy with others, and diminished anxiety , People who are taking it will feel :  A strong sense of inner peace and self-acceptance; feelings of empathy, compassion, and forgiveness toward others; feelings of intimacy and even love for others; Diminished fear, anxiety, and insecurity; Improved self-confidence.

The after effects of this drug are : depression , paranoia , Irritability, Fatigue , Loss of appetite and insomnia. Some studies indicate that repeated recreational users of MDMA have increased rates of depression and anxiety, even after quitting the drug.

  Studies have suggested that MDMA has therapeutic benefits and facilitates therapy sessions in certain individuals facilitating self-examination with reduced fear. This drug  allows the patient to speak about certain feelings without feeling any anxiety . Indeed some therapists  including Leo Zeff, Claudio Naranjo, George Greer, Joseph Downing, and Philip Wolfson, used MDMA in their practices until it was made illegal. This therapists reported that their patients felt improved in various, mild psychiatric disorders and experienced other personal benefits, improving  intimate communication with others and improved their quality of life.   Clinical trials are now testing the therapeutic potential of MDMA for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety associated with terminal cancer.

 Three neurobiological mechanisms for the therapeutic effects of MDMA have been suggested:

1-      MDMA increases oxytocin levels, which may strengthen the therapeutic alliance

2-      MDMA increases ventromedial prefrontal activity and decreases amygdala activity, which may improve emotional regulation and decrease avoidance

3-      MDMA increases norepinephrine release and circulating cortisol levels, which may facilitate emotional engagement and enhance extinction of learned fear associations.

A 2011 study carried out by Harvard Medical School and published in the journal Addiction found no signs of cognitive impairment due to ecstasy use, and that it did not decrease mental ability.

In 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published the Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Among persons aged 12 to 49, the average age at first use for MDMA was 19.4 years. In 2010, an estimated 695,000 Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) MDMA drug users.


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Social disorder

Social anxiety (also known as social phobia) is anxiety about social situations, interactions with peers and the fear of being judged by them. Everyone can feel a bit anxious when meeting new people and being in a new environment but the difference between normal apprehension of social situations and social anxiety is that social anxiety involves an intense feeling of fear , this fear is so great that they will feel anxious just thinking about the situation and will go to great lengths to avoid it. Everyday tasks that most people take for granted – such as working shopping , speaking on the phone – may cause persistent feelings of anxiety and self-consciousness . Suffers may experience physical symptoms such as trembling, rapid breathing, sweating or blushing , in extreme cases panic attacks can occur.
At a deeper level people can experience chronic insecurity about their relationships with others , hypersensitivity to criticism, and great fears of being rejected by others. Many people can go through this kind of experience during adolescence. In some cases this problem can persist over years .Over time people start to avoid situations that they fear or become very defensive in situations often leading to depression and loneliness
Millions of people around the world suffer from this disorder , this is the most common type of anxiety but it is under-recognised and under-treated. Social anxiety issues are still relatively unknown amongst the wider public most people are not even aware that this issues can have a huge impact on people´s life as it can lead people to miss important opportunities .
The exact cause of social phobia is under investigation.There is a possibility of we getting it through our genes (Genetic predisposition) It’s possible that the child of one or two shy parents may inherit genetic code that amplifies shyness into social anxiety disorder.
Jerome Kagan (Harvard University) , did a research about this topic .He studied children from infancy through early adolescence with parents with increased rates of social anxiety disorder and other anxiety disorders . These children end up being irritable infants who became shy and then remain cautious, quiet and introverted in their early grade school years. In adolescence, they had a much higher than expected rate of social anxiety disorder.
In my opinion one effective way to reduce the symptoms of social anxiety disorder is simply the change of negative thoughts. People with this disorder will have negative thoughts about themselves such as : “people think I am stupid” , “ I am not interesting enough “. If people change the way they see themselves improving their self-esteem they will probably feel more comfortable around other people .

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Major depressive disorder and gender differences

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mental disorder characterized by a great sadness, lost/increase of appetite , lost of sleep , sexual desire and pleasure in the usual activities. A patient will be diagnosed with MDD when showing for at least two weeks at least 5 of the following symptoms : great sadness (essential); lost/increase of appetite ; insomnia/ hypersomnia; lost of energy ;feelings of worthlessness-excessive guilt; feelings ; poor ability to think or concentrate ; thoughts of death/suicide.
In fact there are studies that show that women get more depressed then man. Gender ratios showed that man have an 12% chance of getting depressed and women have an 26% chance. Almost about twice as many women as men experience depression.This gender difference only become obvious after preadolescence (12-13 year old).
This could mean that women are more likely to suffer from depression or that they are just more likely to seek for help when suffering from this mental illness , when men prefer to hide their emotions because of the fear of being seen as “weak” or “too sensitive “ . So there would be more records of women suffering from depression then men.. Women can be more likely to be depressed maybe because of certain hormonal differences such as menstruation cycles and menopause also the fact that giving birth can lead to postpartum depression . Other issue that women can have are body issues , men are not as likely to be really bordered about this issues. On the other hand there are some men that feel as bordered as women about their own body image.
In my opinion some men can have a more relaxed view over life and can deal with certain problems in life without being as stress a women would be , but this is not a generalisation because the opposite also can happen ,some men can be more sensitive then certain women . So maybe depression as nothing to do with gender , just with people’s personality and experiences in life .

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Pathological lying

Pseudologia fantastica or Pathological lying is one of the various terms used by psychiatrists to the behaviour of compulsive lying. It was first described in the medical literature in 1891 by Anton Delbrueck.

The difference between compulsive lying and habitual lying  is that some people just tend to lie sometimes in order to avoid hurting other people’s feelings , in contrast a person who suffers from Pathological lying cannot avoid lying even when the lie cause’s harm.

Little has been written about this subject although, one study found a prevalence of almost 1 in 1000 repeat juvenile offenders. The average age of onset is 16 years and this study showed that is equal in women and man.

The stories told by a person who suffers from pathological lying  are not entire improbable and sometimes have an element of truth , however they will change their stories when question about certain details . They will begin contradicting the things they have said, because they lose track of the lies they have told.

Pathological lying is considered a mental illness, it takes over rational judgment. Excessive lying is a common symptom of several mental illnesses. There are many reasons that make people become  Pathological liars . They might have low self-esteem and feel that they need to lie to prove that they are better than everyone. The lie may be an attempt to feel good about themselves, generally for a short period of time, similar to the effect of drugs and alcohol. Situations such as a  dysfunctional family; Sexual or physical abuse in childhood; Substance abuse or substance abuse in family; Neuropsychological abnormalities; such as borderline mental retardation, learning disabilities ; Personality disorders such as Sociopathic, Narcissistic, Borderline, Histrionic and more cam be other causes.

There are many consequences for being a pathological liar. Due to lack of trust, most of their relationships and friendships fail. And, if it continues to progress, their lying could get them into trouble with the law.

Psychotherapy appears to be one of the only methods to treat a person suffering from pathological lying. There has been no research done about pharmaceutical medication, to potentially help decrease patients lying .Some research has been done, that suggests some people may have a “predisposition to lying”.

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Pygmalion effect

Pygmalion effect is a phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people the better they perform. Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson (1968/1992) discussed the Pygmalion effect in their study.  In their study they showed that if a teacher has good expectations about a student, if he thinks that this student will be successful at school, this child will be actually successful at school. The contrary also happened when a teacher did not expect a student to be successful at school this student would not be successful.

In this experience Rosenthal predicted that, when given the information that certain students had higher IQs than others to their teachers, teachers would unconsciously behave in ways that facilitate and encourage the students’ success.

The Pygmalion effect can also be applied at racial expectations. This effect is seen during Jane Elliott’s blue-eyed versus brown-eyed discrimination exercise, where third graders were divided based on eye colour. One group was given preference and regarded as “superior” because of their eye colour, with the other group repeatedly being considered inferior in intelligence and learning ability. On the second day of the experiment, the groups were completely reversed, with those oppressed against one day being regarded as superior the next.

The aims of this experience were to prove that the expectations of others can influence reality. In my opinion the expectations of others can influence the way we behave, but it is in our hands not to let expectations change the way we behave. It is not what people think of us that define us. If someone thinks that we cannot do something is our job to prove that we can do it. We should not give people the power to define who we are or what can we do.

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