Dr. Suzanne Chabaud Sets the Stage for Children of Hoarders Research
›From the time that the ChildrenOfHoarders.com website was launched in 2006, adult children of hoarders have been sharing experiences and developing ideas about how growing up in a hoarding environment can affect a child and how those effects can echo into adulthood. While it has been gratifying to see increased awareness of hoarding as a serious disorder over the past few years, many children of hoarders have expressed frustration that clinical and professional attention has focused almost exclusively on the hoarders themselves, while inadequate attention has been given to the serious consequences of hoarding behavior on family members, particularly children. Further, children of hoarders have sometimes been portrayed primarily as being obstacles to the successful treatment of hoarders, rather than as being individuals who may be victims of long term neglect or abuse, and who may benefit from specialized support or treatment.
With that in mind, it is with great excitement that we note what may be the first serious, focused effort by a clinical researcher to examine the experiences of children of hoarders and to consider the long-term effects of those experiences. In an article published in the November 10, 2011 issue of Psychiatric Times, Dr. Suzanne A. Chabaud, known to many from her appearances on the “Hoarders” television show, has shared her preliminary observations regarding “The Hidden Lives of Children of Hoarders.”
Dr. Chabaud suggests “that being raised in a hoarded home produces lifelong, deep, and widespread effects, including losses in every sphere—physical, emotional, psychological, social, and familial.” She also describes common feelings of “vulnerability, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness, disgust, embarrassment, and social isolation” among adult children of hoarders. Despite being in the “pioneer days of finding solutions for a tenacious disorder that strikes millions of people,” Chabaud believes that multi-disciplinary efforts can help adult children of hoarders to “address the effects of hoarding on their lives.”
Dr. Chabaud’s observations were collected in her clinical practice and through an ongoing, online research survey. Further, Chabaud moderated a “children of hoarders summit” in July 2011 at the OCD Institute of Greater New Orleans, where adult children of hoarders “shared details about their childhoods and the enduring effects of being raised in a hoarded home.” Representatives of Children of Hoarders, Inc. attended the summit and presented Dr. Chabaud with a plaque recognizing her work and thanking her for “hearing our voices.”
Children of Hoarders, Inc. congratulates Dr. Chabaud on her groundbreaking study, and we are hopeful that other researchers will join her in improving our understanding and support for the special needs of children of hoarders. We encourage all adult children of hoarders to consider completing Dr. Chabaud’s research survey. More information is available at http://drchabaud.com/?spec=research.