Posts tagged with "2020 Census"

Is animal hoarding a distinct mental disorder?

July 25, 2022

For better or worse, hoarding has gotten a lot of attention in recent years,  due to the popularity of several TV shows—among them, Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive. People suffering from the disorder cannot discard things, stuffing every available inch of their homes and cars with anything from clothes to old newspapers, to food containers, to bags of trash.  The disorder can be serious, leading to unsafe living arrangements and social isolation, reports Smithsonian Magazine.

But the results are even more problematic for people who collect animals. A new study—conducted at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and published in the journal, Psychiatry Researchexamines the motivations behind so-called animal hoarding, suggesting that the disorder is not actually as closely related to object hoarding as once thought, reports Michael Price at Science.

Unlike previous approaches to the disorder, the latest study suggests that animal hoarding should be classified as an independent disorder with the hope of developing specialized treatments to help these people cope with the compulsion to collect critters.

Animal hoarders acquire and live with dozens or even hundreds of creatures in their homes, causing suffering for both the hoarder and animals. The people and their creatures often live in poor conditions; the animals often lack adequate food and medical treatment. And although this seems similar to object hoarding, the latest study addresses several differences that may influence treatments.

The study came from the work of Doctoral student Elisa Arrienti Ferreira at the university, who was studying animal hoarding for her master’s degree. At the time, it struck her how different object and animal hoarding seemed to be and she began to dig into the topic.

Ferreira and her colleagues visited the homes of 33 animal hoarders, assessing their living situation and interviewing them about their disorder. Of this lot, the average hoarder had 41 animals. In total, the 33 hoarders had acquired 915 dogs, 382 cats and 50 ducks—one house alone contained roughly 170 dogs and some 20 to 30 cats, reports Charles Choi at Discover Magazine.

As Price reports, the demographics of the animal hoarders were consistent with what researchers know about object hoarders. About 75% were low income, 88% were not married, and 66% were elderly. But there were differences. Object hoarders are pretty much evenly split between men and women, meanwhile roughly 73% of animal hoarders are women.

Their motivations also differ. “When you talk with object hoarders, they talk about hoarding objects because they might need them some day—say, they might read those magazines,” Ferreira tells Choi. “But with animal hoarders, you hear, ‘They need me, and I need them. They are important to me; I can’t imagine how my life would be if they didn’t exist. I am on a mission; I was born to do this.’” Many of the animal hoarders began collecting stray animals after a trauma, like the death of a loved one, Ferreira adds.

And while object hoarders are often conscious of their condition and want to help to change their lives, animal hoarders seem to think there’s not a problem, even if many of the animals in their care are suffering. Many of them shun attempts to help.  “They are really suspicious—they keep thinking you are there to steal the animals,” Ferreira says. “So it’s really complicated to approach them—you have to establish trust with them, and that takes time, and I think it will be very difficult.”

The consequences are also harder to deal with than object hoarding, notes Price. Unlike object hoarders, whose homes can be cleared out by a junk removal service, an animal hoarder may need to have pets euthanized, put under veterinary care, or adopted. Then there’s the remediation required to clean a home covered in animal urine and feces.

Ferreira and her team are not the first to suggest animal hoarding is its own unique disorder, but the latest work is changing how researchers think about the issue. “It does not appear to be a single, simple disorder,” Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty projects for the ASPCA tells Tait. “In the past it has been seen as an addictive behavior, and as a manifestation of OCD. We’re also now seeing it as an attachment disorder where people have an impaired ability to form relationships with other people and animals fill that void.”

Graham Thew, who studies hoarding at Oxford, tells Price that the new research is a good start, but there’s not enough to classify animal hoarding as its own disorder yet. “This paper makes some interesting behavioral observations, but I think we’d need more evidence of a distinct underlying psychological difficulty before we start to think about animal hoarding as a distinct difficulty.”

Research contact: @SmithsonianMag

Stacey Abrams for VP? Popular Georgia public servant says she’d accept an offer

August 15, 2019

Stacey Abrams, who lost her 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia by a narrow margin to Republican Brian Kemp, said she would be “honored” to be considered as a running mate for any of the two dozen hopefuls who are making a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination next year, The Hill reported on August 14.

“I would be honored to be considered by any nominee,” she said in an interview with The New York Times that was published Wednesday. 

Abrams already had announced on August 13 that she would not throw her hat into the presidential race-but that she would work instead to combat voter suppression and increase participation in the 2020 census.

However, her personal charisma and political acuity are not to be ignored: As another option, she said she would privileged to be chosen as the vice presidential candidate, should the nominee approach her.

According to The Hill, the Georgia Democrat has cited voter suppression as a reason for her defeat, noting the removal of thousands of people who had failed to cast ballots in recent elections from voting rolls and hours-long lines at some precincts.

I’ve been thinking about this for the last few weeks, an I’ve just come to the decision that my best value add, the strongest contribution I can give to this primary, would be to make sure our nominee is coming into an environment where there’s strong voter protections in place,” she told the Times.

Abrams added that she did not want to wage a campaign “simply because the office is available” and that she’s “been pleased with the direction of the field,” urging all the candidates to also prioritize voter suppression and campaign in Georgia.

Several Democratic presidential candidates already have vowed to (or suggested they might) pick a female running mate if nominated. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey)  vowed in April to pick a woman as his vice president, while former Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said in March it would “very difficult not to select a woman” as his running mate.”

Research contact: @thehill

House Dems to hold contempt vote against Barr and McGahn on June 11

June 5, 2019

The House will vote next week on a resolution to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress, Politico reports.

Barr—who misrepresented the findings of the Mueller report to Congress and the U.S. public, according to the investigators—also has failed to comply with a subpoena for a fully unredacted copy of the report and underlying evidence; McGahn balked at a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

According to Politico, the resolution, to be introduced on June 11, would clear the way for the House Judiciary Committee to take Barr and McGahn to court to enforce their subpoenas; and would enable Democrats to set in motion their obstruction of justice investigation against President Donald Trump.

“This Administration’s systematic refusal to provide Congress with answers and cooperate with Congressional subpoenas is the biggest cover-up in American history, and Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight on behalf of the American people,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement.

The vote also will offer broad authority for congressional committees to take legal action against the Trump administration in future subpoena fights, Democratic sources told the news outlet.

The vote—which is supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hoyer, and other top members of House leadership—will authorize the House to hold the two men in civil contempt. Democrats will forgo an effort to hold them in criminal contempt—which Democratic sources described as an empty gesture because Barr, in particular, would never face charges from his own Justice Department.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said on June 1 that he was pressing for a floor vote on contempt for Barr as quickly as possible so that the committee could take Barr to court and attempt to enforce its subpoena.

The move comes as a growing number of House Democrats are calling for Trump’s impeachment—and they may not be satisfied with a slap at his attorney general, Politico said.

Meanwhile, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are threatening to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena seeking information about efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Research contact: @politico