SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Korea Bizwire) — On February 11, the Uijeongbu District Court found a 54-year-old woman guilty of murdering two men – her husband and her boyfriend – and sentenced her to a jail term of 24 years. From the point of view of ordinary people, the case might easily be seen as a crime of passion.
However, the case features another social problem and mental disorder known as hoarding, as both bodies were kept inside a rubber container at her home. Besides the bodies, her house was full of junk and odds and ends, which is a symptom of the mental disorder.
One day earlier in Gwangju, South Jeolla Province, approximately 20 government officers, residents and volunteers visited the house of a mentally disabled man surnamed Kim. His house was full of discarded papers, scrap iron and other junk that was causing offensive smells. They removed 20 tons of junk from Kim’s house with the consent of Kim’s family members.
It is not uncommon to see people collect junk and other discarded items, and stack them in their houses. In some cases, even the collectors cannot stay inside their home as there is no place for them. Some do that for the purpose of making money by selling the recyclable wastes. However, in the two cases mentioned above, they just hoarded the junk and kept adding to their piles.
In medical circles, hoarding disorders are seen as both mental disabilities and possible symptoms for OCD, caused by a loss of ability to make valuation judgments, and impaired decision-making. Those suffering from the disorder keep piling up objects as they cannot easily decide whether to discard them or not. It is known that the malfunction of the frontal lobe, which covers the sphere of decision-making and action planning, contributes to the symptoms.
The disorder can be treated by medication using a serotonin uptake blocker, which can stabilize the neurons, but it is harder to treat than other OCDs.
A Gwangju city official said, “We will keep our eyes on Kim and find ways to help him not limited to cleaning up the junk, as hoarding can create dangers for the afflicted individual, family members and the community at large.”
By John Choi (email@example.com)