What is Disposophobia?

Disposophobia is the irrational and abnormal fear of throwing things away, also known as “hoarding disorder”. Those who suffer from this condition are reluctant to discard anything on the basis that it may have some value or use, though in extreme cases the decision to keep something has no basis in real value, such as keeping items like used wrapping paper, bits of foil, etc.

Disposophobia can be further divided into animal hoarding, book hoarding, as well as other specific object hoarding. In the majority of the cases, the phobic will not have any use for the objects kept, but intense fear regarding its disposal causes him/her to keep collecting and storing those objects.

The root word 'dispos' is from the Latin roots 'dis-' plus 'pōnere' meaning 'to set in different places, arrange' and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

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Symptoms of Disposophobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of Powerlessness
  • Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
  • Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Headaches

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Causes of Disposophobia

Disposophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (such as “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. (An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.)

It is thought that genetics and hereditary factors may play a role in specific phobias, especially those related to a danger of injury. (A primal “fight or flight” reflex may be more easily triggered in those with a genetic predisposition, for instance.)

By contrast, social phobias (like a fear of body odor or touch) are less well-understood, are driven by social anxiety, and are broadly labeled as “social anxiety disorder”.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

Disposophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

The phobia is sometimes caused by a neurological disorder as well as possible past traumatic experience. Past trauma that can be associated with this fear includes loss of loved ones or jobs and divorce.

Research has found that sufferers of Disposophobia are more likely to have mild atrophy of the brain or unusual frontal lobe shapes. This part of the brain is responsible for making decisions and executing functions.

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Treatments for Disposophobia

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

  • Habit Strategies To Relax
  • Cognitive Therapy (CT)
  • In Vivo Exposure
  • Response Prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

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