Actual and perceived memory deficits in individuals with compulsive hoarding

Tamara L. Hartl, Randy O. Frost, George J. Allen, Thilo Deckersbach, Gail Steketee, Shannon R. Duffany, Cary R. Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Memory problems have been hypothesized to underlie compulsive hoarding behavior [Frost and Hartl, 1996: Bebav 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Hoarding
  • Memory
  • Neuropsychology
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Organizational strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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