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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

In hoarding, the junk is just a symptom

By Mary Carole McCauley




Scientists search for biological cause, treatment


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) The table at Jack Samuels' office, in Baltimore's Fells Point, is piled two feet high with books, papers, scientific journals and grant applications.

Samuels' wife likes to tease him that he has a hoarding problem, just like the people he studies. In reality, those stacks of paper might hold a remedy.

Samuels, associate professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is the go-to guy nationwide for researchers seeking to understand the biological basis of hoarding — an intense, irrational drive to collect items in vast quantities, coupled with an inability to discard objects that are worthless or broken.


Compulsive collectors

Samuels established that hoarding occurs in approximately 5 percent of the population — a far larger number than was previously suspected — and linked compulsive hoarding in some patients to chromosome 14.

As important as Samuels' research is, he's not content to sit in an academic tower. He's working with psychologist Gregory Chasson to develop a treatment for hoarding that is effective and affordable.


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"People don't realize the severity of the problems that hoarding can cause," Samuels says. "It can be quite debilitating. When someone's whole life is based on hoarding, family relations are strained. Every year, you read about a fire in a home that was so cluttered that firemen couldn't get through the door."


Extreme situations

The behavior can result in extreme situations that grip the public imagination, whether in the well-known story of the Collyer brothers, two wealthy recluses found dead in their Harlem brownstone in 1947, surrounded by 130 tons of waste that they had amassed, or in the current popularity of three reality television shows on cable television.

"Hoarders" on A&E, "Hoarding: Buried Alive" on TLC and Animal Planet's "Confessions: Animal Hoarding" chronicle such crises as people whose homes have become structurally unsound and are in danger of collapsing, people in danger of losing custody of their children because of unsafe living conditions, and people with terminal illnesses prevented by the clutter from getting the in-home care they need.


Mild forms

Liz Bumgarner and her husband had been attending meetings on Wall Street in New York just two days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

After the couple returned to their home in Vienna, Va., Bumgarner was stricken by a pervasive anxiety. What had begun the previous year as a troublesome tendency to stockpile papers rapidly grew much worse. By the time she sought help from psychologist Elspeth Bell, the lower level of her home, all 2,500 feet of it, had become so crammed with boxes it was nearly unusable.

"My husband refers to it as having to go to his office through the goat trails," says the 67-year-old human rights worker. "The upstairs is pretty livable, but we don't utilize the whole lower part of the house. The piles aren't up to the ceiling, but it isn't pretty. The downstairs is full of stuff: papers, magazines and newspapers in boxes; clothes that had sentimental value or that I don't want to get rid of because I might wear them some day. There are too many dishes, too many vases, too many tablecloths. It just got out of hand."


Is hoarding an illness?

Hoarding is categorized as a subcategory of obsessive-compulsive disorder, though Samuels thinks that it might soon be considered a related but separate illness.

Thirty percent of those with OCD also hoard. But more than half of those with a pathological collecting habit lack the intrusive thoughts and repetitive rituals that are the defining characteristics of an OCD diagnosis.

"Individuals who have obsessive-compulsive disorder and individuals who hoard are different," Samuels says. "The age of onset is later for hoarders, and the traditional treatment for OCD works poorly for people with hoarding behavior."

In addition, he says, the two diagnoses are associated with different personality traits. People who hoard are preoccupied with details and have difficulty making decisions. On the positive side, many are creative and artistic.

"They look at something that most of us would discard, like a broken bottle, and see its potential," he says.

Samuels is trying to ferret out whether an uncontrollable drive to acquire is inherited, like height or eye color. His research team is interviewing 60 hoarders and approximately 50 of their blood relatives.


RESOURCES FOR HOARDERS & FAMILIES

Here's one piece of paper that those who hoard should be encouraged to hang onto — a list of resources for those who compulsively collect.

  • For a comprehensive overview of the history, symptoms and diagnosis of hoarding, check out the International OCD Foundation's hoarding page at www.ocfoundation.org/hoarding.
  • For a self-help guide, many therapists recommend the book "Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding," by David Tolin, Randy Frost and Gail Steketee.
  • An online discussion forum offering support for those who care for people with a hoarding disorder can be found at www.childrenofhoarders.com.



He wants to know whether the relatives who don't hoard demonstrate even faint echoes of the problem. In particular, he's interested whether, like hoarders, the relatives also exhibit a malfunction of their so-called "executive functions" — the cognitive and regulatory processes carried out in the brain's anterior cingulate cortex.

For example, a hoarder might have a sibling who lives in a home that's mostly uncluttered. But the brother or sister might have the attention span of a butterfly and be unable to organize.


Treatment options

Stories of people who feel locked in to supporting hoarders inspired Samuels and psychologist Gregory Chasson to look for a way to make a promising therapy available to low-income patients. Researchers Randy Frost and Gail Steketee tweaked a form of cognitive behavioral therapy specifically to fit the needs of hoarders, and the treatment has shown some preliminary success.

"In one study, the patients who completed the treatment showed a 45 percent reduction in their symptoms," says Chasson.

"But it's expensive because it involves visiting going into the patients' homes and confronting their thoughts and anxieties as they de-clutter. Very few insurance companies will pay for it."

He estimated that 40 hours of treatment cost $7,000 — putting therapy out of reach of those who need it most.


The two researchers have submitted a $450,000 grant proposal to the National Institute of Mental Health to create a pilot program that would train nonprofessionals to carry out some of the more scripted, routine aspects of the treatment. These "coaches" could be supervised by clinicians, reducing the cost of the therapy by about 80 percent.

"A lot of people in Maryland with this problem are elderly and living on fixed incomes," Chasson says. "Or they have cognitive difficulties that get in the way of their being able to support themselves. They don't have the resources to pay for therapy-based treatment. We want to help them."

Bumgarner, the human rights worker with the overstuffed first floor, is one of the lucky ones, because she can afford to pay for the time-intensive sessions with Bell necessary to tackle her compulsion.

"In the beginning, Elspeth came to my home and helped me go through clothes and papers," Bumgarner says.

"She was always there to say, 'Is that important? When are you going to do that project? Can someone else use that more effectively?'

"She made me realize that I am not alone. This problem has disrupted my life. But, I can work on it, and gradually overcome it.' "

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© 2011, Baltimore Sun Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.