Essay Example: Critical Analysis of Compulsive Hoarding from a Holism Approach

Published: 2020-02-24
Essay Example: Critical Analysis of Compulsive Hoarding from a Holism Approach
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Psychology
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1669 words
14 min read

Reductionism is a common term in modern psychology. It has been described as a theory that purports every complex phenomena, principally in psychology, can be elucidated by analyzing the simplest, most elementary physical mechanisms that are in operation during the phenomena.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER! (2015) a famous site for definition states reductionism to be the practice of simplifying a complex idea ,condition, issue or the like, essentially to a point of minimizing, obscuring, or distorting it. Texila American University defines it as simply an approach to understanding complex things by simplifying them to their most basic parts. Psychologist who subscribe to the tenets of reductionism are popularly known as reductionists. Abramowitz, Franklin, Schwartz & Furr (2003) suggest that the best way to comprehend the manner in which we behave is to observe closely the basic parts that make up our systems and use simple explanations to understand how the system works .

Reductionism is based on the postulation that complex phenomena should be explained by the simple underlying canons of the phenomena. Proposers of this theory vehemently believe that our behavior and mental process should be explained within the premises of basic science. Indeed, various areas of psychology, such as biological, behaviorism and cognitive, that employ experimental and laboratory approach in its analysis adopts a reductionist position. The approach tries to determine a complex cause by using simple sets of variables. According reductionism theorists, complex behaviors could be seen as a result of measurable physical phenomena and could be quantified and analyzed in simple terms because they were repeatable, basically testable and physically concrete (Brodin, 2010).

In psychology systems is a theory about the quality of complex phenomena in nature, science and society, and the context by which one can examine and/or describe any group of objects that work collectively to yield a particular result. The theory studies the properties and structure of systems in terms of interactions whose occurrence results to emergence of new properties of whole. Systems theory espouse the fact that human mind is more than a mere entirety of its parts but a complex interlink of psychological, chemical and mental processes. It is this view that supporters of this theory have stalwartly argued for the human beings to be thought as systems in themselves. The theory suggests some interrelations between various elements of a system and also existence of some primal principles leading those relationships.

The proponents of this theory argue for it because it embodies a wide range of disciplines, theoretical principles and concepts of philosophy, ontology, science, biology and physics, to explain a phenomena. The theory is widely applied in fields like geography, psychotherapy, sociology, economics and political science. Holism is an imperative tenet when discussing the theory of systems.

Holism is a branch of thought in psychology that demands that when explaining natural systems, such as physical, biological, chemical, social, linguistic and economic, their properties should viewed as a whole instead of an assortment parts. This theory is a contradiction to the supposition of reductionism (Abramowitz, Wheaton & Storch, 2008). The theory is almost similar to the systems theory, however, but encompasses the whole unit of the person not just parts of the mind being thought of in totality. It is the existence of a reality the whole entity and not just a sum of its parts. It can be viewed as a theoretical concept that integrate both the theoretical and practical tendencies of a person such as physical, mental and spiritual and explained in a social and physical sense. The theory insists on integrity of the whole and emphasizes on realizing our full potential as human beings.

The article simply tries relate the cognitive behavioral hoarding behavior of human beings and animals, particularly birds and rodents, and wishes to observe the striking similarities in motivation of these two species to hoard. Comprehending this similarities, the article purports, might be extremely helpful to scientists wanting to understand compulsive hoarding in human beings. In humans hoarding can be broadly defined as acquiring and failing to discard item without, or of limited, value (Abramowitz, Wheaton & Storch, 2008). The articles goes along way describing hoarding in humans and animals in details. The characterization of hoarding in humans as having serious threats to the health and safety of sufferers is also highlighted as due to precariousness of debris in the home environment, mold spores, vermin and lack of sanitation.

The article points out some negative effects of hoarding such as anxiety disorder that lead to occupational and role impairment. It also points out some pathological and phonotypical features, as a result of hoarding, in animal models that are present in humans such as depression, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and substance abuse. The salient purpose of the article is to evaluate animal models of hoarding and use them to understand the clinical hoarding in human. Data for comparison are gathered on behavioral, neuroanatomical, biochemical and genetic bases for hoarding both for animals and humans.

Behavioral evidence, neurological information, biochemical facts and genetic evidence on human hoarding are extensively highlighted in the article. Evidence such as the speculation by Ayers, Saxena, Golshan & Wetherell (2010) hoarding implies the failure of the hippocampus to modulate the impact of mesolimbic dopaminergic activity on the NAcc, resulting in disinhibiting of stereotypical behaviors is sighted as one of the biochemical evidence for hoarding. Hoarding has been described in the article as a hereditary trait. Precisely, the article states, Some studies have revealed that 84% to 85% of hoarding patients reported at least one first-degree relative as a pack rat, (Turner, Steketee & Nauth, 2010). However, it is vague whether genetic factors, shared environmental factors, or both, are critically responsible for this combination.

The article goes further to portray the neurological, biochemical, genetic, behavioral, and neuroanatomical, evidence that motivate animals to hoard. The article offers extensive data on these aspects and explains the findings of various researchers about hoarding in animals. The similarities of hoarding between these animals and the type of hoarding them exhibit and their apparent similarities to the human clinical hoarding.

In explaining clearly the comparison of hoarding in animals and using that model to understand the clinical human hoarding I would employ the holistic approach. The holistic approach will offer an easier understanding into these motivations of hoardings as it blends meticulously the extremes of behavioral evidence, the subtleness of biochemical evidence and the veracity of neuroanatomical and genetic evidence. The reductionist approach fails miserably as it has been indicated in the article because it only views the problem of elucidating in parts. However, hoarding itself is characterized by myriads of motives such as age, sex, cognitive skills ethnicity, income levels and sentimental values attached to items. Some of this factors cannot be quantified and then empirical data obtained from a population and inference about the similarity of hoarding between animal and human hoarding made as the reductionist theory supposes (Timpano, Rasmussen, Exner, Rief & Wilhelm, 2014).

A psychologist could better and comprehensively elucidate the hoarding behaviors in a holist approach. He/she may integrate the nitty gritty aspects in animals model that are tantamount to the hoarding tendencies in humans. This comprehensive analysis focuses on the central issues of factors that motivate hoarding and encompasses all possible factors thus the resulting model is more reliable. Holistic viewpoint of understanding the relationship between the models will offer a set of facts that truly reflects the nature of human clinical hoarding in relation to animal hoarding unlike the myopic, narrow and misconceived reductionist theory (Ayers, Saxena, Golshan & Wetherell, 2010). When we look at the entirety of hoarding in birds, for example, who hoard inedible items, there is a striking semblance with human hoarding who equally vastly hoard inedible items. Additionally, when biochemical activity is considered, then in both the birds and humans the hippocampus plays an integral role. As for the rat model in explaining human clinical hoarding there are a number of notable similarities. A holistic conceptualization reveals that both species are involved in larder hoarding that eventually increases with age and no significant effect with respect to sex.

There is sufficient information supporting the use of a holistic approach in explaining the human clinical hoarding with respect to the characteristics of animal hoarding. Evidently, discussing the characteristics and motives of hoarding in parts will be grossly misleading and incomprehensive. However, taking a holistic view of the cases there is greater understanding and much more perspective associated with it (Brodin, 2010).


Abramowitz, J., Franklin, M., Schwartz, S., & Furr, J. (2003). Symptom Presentation and Outcome of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 71(6), 1049-1057. doi:10.1037/0022-006x.71.6.1049

Abramowitz, J., Wheaton, M., & Storch, E. (2008). The status of hoarding as a symptom of obsessiveacompulsive disorder. Behaviour Research And Therapy, 46(9), 1026-1033. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2008.05.006

Abramowitz, J., Wheaton, M., & Storch, E. (2008). The status of hoarding as a symptom of obsessiveacompulsive disorder. Behaviour Research And Therapy, 46(9), 1026-1033. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2008.05.006

An, S., Mataix-Cols, D., Lawrence, N., Wooderson, S., Giampietro, V., & Speckens, A. et al. (2008). To discard or not to discard: the neural basis of hoarding symptoms in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Molecular Psychiatry, 14(3), 318-331. doi:10.1038/

Ayers, C., Saxena, S., Golshan, S., & Wetherell, J. (2010). Age at onset and clinical features of late life compulsive hoarding. Int. J. Geriat. Psychiatry, 25(2), 142-149. doi:10.1002/gps.2310

Blundell, J., & Herberg, L. (1973). Effectiveness of lateral hypothalamic stimulation, arousal, and food deprivation in the initiation of hoarding behaviour in naive rats. Physiology & Behavior, 10(4), 763-767. doi:10.1016/0031-9384(73)90160-1

Brodin, A. (2010). The history of scatter hoarding studies. Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 365(1542), 869-881. doi:10.1098/rstb.2009.0217,. (2015). - The world's favorite online English dictionary!. Retrieved 18 August 2015, from

Timpano, K., Rasmussen, J., Exner, C., Rief, W., & Wilhelm, S. (2014). The association between metacognitions, the obsessive compulsive symptom dimensions and hoarding: A focus on specificity. Journal Of Obsessive-Compulsive And Related Disorders, 3(2), 188-194. doi:10.1016/j.jocrd.2013.10.001

Turner, K., Steketee, G., & Nauth, L. (2010). Treating Elders With Compulsive Hoarding: A Pilot Program. Cognitive And Behavioral Practice, 17(4), 449-457. doi:10.1016/j.cbpra.2010.04.001


Cite this page

Essay Example: Critical Analysis of Compulsive Hoarding from a Holism Approach. (2020, Feb 24). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism