Children of Hoarders

From The Psychology Times, Vol. 3, No. 2

Dr. Chabaud on 20/20

Dr. Suzanne Chabaud, New Orleans clinical psychologist, appeared on the August 5 episode of ABC’s prime time news magazine, 20/20, as part of a special report about children of hoarders and the psychological impact that they must manage as adults.

Dr. Chabaud, an expert on obsessive-compulsive disorders and hoarding-related topics, regularly appears on the A & E television show Hoarders.

Through this work she increased her awareness of the psychological impact on the children coming from these homes, she told the Times.

“These children of hoarders, they walk around with this feeling like ‘I didn’t get the basics on how a person is supposed to live their life,’ “ Dr. Chabaud explained to 20/20 anchor Elizabeth Vargas.

“The effects of a childhood that was hoarded are pervasive and long-lasting,” Chabaud said. “… These children have a burden that lasts a lifetime.”

The 20/20 episode focused on the lives of several adult children of hoarders and a support group, called Children of Hoarders, Inc. Dr. Chabaud serves this group as an expert resource, answering questions, giving help, and reviewing the groups outreach projects, she explained to the Times.

Dr. Chabaud and colleagues at her OCD Institute engage in research about the problems encountered by children of hoarders. In July 2011 she and her colleagues hosted a weekend long seminar for children of hoarders. Twenty-one individuals from around the country spent four days in her research center and worked to develop goals and resources for this population.

“This was an amazing experience,” Dr. Chabaud noted, “and it was the first time most of the attendees ever had a slumber party. We organized focus-groups for outreach, education, research, support, public policy, and media.”

Dr. Chabaud has begun a second phase of research efforts for children of hoarders, including “…an online survey of many aspects of growing up in hoarded homes and establishing an adult life,” she noted. Her group is also working to increase public awareness, and develop local task forces to “ coordinate public officials, community resources and mental health specialists to address the needs of people who are living in hoarded homes.”

In a recent interview with WWL-TV in New Orleans, Dr. Chabaud commented, “Children of hoarders’ lives are deprived in so many ways. It’s not just the unhealthy environment; it’s the emotional contact with a significant adult. It’s the loss of skills for just maintaining their lives, down to bathing, making beds, organizing their belongings.”

“You just can’t put these children in foster homes. There has to be a program to help them through this.”

For more information about Dr. Suzanne Chabaud’s innovative work with children of hoarders, go to her website www.ocdigno.com.

The 20/20 episode can be watched online at:


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