Diogenes syndrome is a disorder that involves hoarding of rubbish and severe self-neglect. In addition, the syndrome is characterized by domestic squalor, syllogomania , social alienation , and refusal of help.
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It has been shown that the syndrome is caused as a reaction to stress that was experienced by the patient. The time span in which the syndrome develops is undefined, though it is most accurately distinguished as a reaction to stress that occurs late in life.
In most instances, patients were observed to have an abnormal possessiveness and patterns of compilation in a disordered manner. These symptoms suggest damage to the prefrontal areas of the brain, due to its relation to decision making. In contrast, there have also been cases where the hoarded objects were arranged in a methodical manner, which may suggest a cause other than brain damage.
Although most patients have been observed to come from homes with poor conditions, and many had been faced with poverty for a long period of time, these similarities are not considered a definite cause to the syndrome. Research showed that some of the participants with the condition had solid family backgrounds as well as successful professional lives. Half of the patients were of higher intelligence level.
The severe neglect that they bring on themselves usually results in physical collapse or mental breakdown. Most individuals who suffer from the syndrome do not get identified until they face this stage of collapse, due to their predilection to refuse help from others.
Professor John Snowdon
The patients are generally highly intelligent, and the personality traits that can be seen frequently in patients diagnosed with Diogenes syndrome are aggressiveness, stubbornness, suspicion of others, unpredictable mood swings, emotional instability and deformed perception of reality. Individuals suffering from Diogenes syndrome generally display signs of collectionism, hoarding , or compulsive disorder.
Individuals who have suffered damage to the brain, particularly the frontal lobe , may be at more risk to developing the syndrome. The frontal lobes are of particular interest, because they are known to be involved in higher order cognitive processes , such as reasoning , decision-making and conflict monitoring. Diogenes Syndrome tends to occur among the elderly. The behavioural patterns that is usually reflected by those living with this disorder are suffering from significant functional problem that is correlated with morbidity and mortality.
Original Paper First Online: 10 November This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Compliance with Ethical Standards Conflict of interest The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Accessed 16 January Amanullah, S. Diogenes syndrome revisited.
German Journal of Psychiatry, 12 1 — Accessed 1 February Accessed 15 January Chater, C.
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Hoarding in the home: A toolkit for the home healthcare provider. Home Healthcare Nurse, 31 3 , — Frank, C. Approach to hoarding in family medecine, beyond reality television. Canadian Family Physician, 58 10 , — Irvine, J. Recognizing diogenes syndrome: A case report. BMC Research Notes, 7 , Mataix-Cols, D. Depression and Anxiety, 27 6 , — CrossRef Google Scholar. Legal factors, including whether an individual is an owner or renter, are reviewed in terms of Australia and the United Kingdom, with limited U.
Finally, media portrayals that often focus on the sensationalist content may not be helpful. Some television series that look at problems e. Thus, Severe Domestic Squalor , although apparently initially a text not relevant to the practice of psychiatry in the United States, is now placed in an ideal position with DSM-5 in understanding and separating hoarding disorder from squalor.
One who reads this text will gain an improved picture of true hoarding, its relation to other psychiatric and neurologic conditions, how to evaluate it, and how to proceed to help the individual meeting criteria and suffering as a result of it. Forgot Username? Forgot password?
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