This Introduction refutes the claim that hoarding is a mental illness. It first surveys psychology texts and argues that hoarding has been incorrectly seen as a pathology whose classification can be found in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Contrary to this reception, the Introduction suggests that hoarding in America is a modern moral panic over things such as clutter and inappropriate keepsakes. Examining the sensationalism that hoarders incite across media, the Introduction contests this depiction and outlines how to think critically and ethically about the psychopathology of material life. It maintains that we should not treat hoarding as a neurological malfunction or as a specialized anxiety disorder but that we must historicize why hoarding seems disreputable in the United States.
Keywords: hoarding, mental illness, moral panic, pathology, DSM, classification, sensationalism, anxiety