Jan 16, 2004 — Compulsive hoarding, a psychological disorder that most frequently affects the elderly and is characterized by an accumulation of useless possessions that clutter the person’s living space posing safety and health risks, will be discussed at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law on Wednesday, January 21 from 9am-1pm. The Law School is at 55 Fifth Avenue at 12th Street. A recent incident made headlines when a man suffering from this disorder, otherwise known as Collyer Brothers Syndrome, was imprisoned in his own apartment for two days when piles of accumulated magazines and newspapers tumbled on him, pinning him down, and nearly killing him.
A diverse group of professionals from the fields of health, law, housing, animal control, psychology, and social work are convening to share experiences and recommendations for dealing with people afflicted with compulsive hoarding. All speakers and panelists are members of the New York City Task Force on Hoarding which was founded a year ago to examine the issue, develop practical resources, and make creative suggestions for change.
The conference, “When Hoarding Causes Suffering: Working Together to Address a Multi-faceted Problem,” Cardozo’s second conference on the disorder, will address the following topics: the challenges of assessing risk, the referral process, eviction proceedings, therapeutic protocols, and practical decluttering guidelines. Speakers will examine case studies illustrating the importance of diverse professional groups working together to achieve optimum results. Internationally recognized expert on hoarding, Randy Frost, Ph.D. of Smith College and consultant to the Task Force, will be the featured guest speaker. Among the conference organizers are: Rosemary Bakker, research associate in gerontological design in medicine and director of the Task Force on Hoarding, Weill Medical College of Cornell University; Janet Lessum, C.S.W., associate clinical professor and social work supervisor, Cardozo Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic; and Toby Golick, clinical professor of law and director, Cardozo Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic.
The conference is cosponsored by Cardozo Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and the New York City Task Force on Hoarding and Older Adults.
Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic, a pro bono clinic at the Law School, represents dozens of elderly and disabled people seeking important health, disability, and housing benefits. The clinic operates with 25 students, 3 graduate social work interns, and 4 full time faculty with a caseload of more than 200 clients. The clinic also has represented people in several successful class action lawsuits. Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law is well known for its prolific and high profile faculty as well as top-ranked programs in intellectual property, corporate and criminal law, entertainment and communications law, legal theory, and Jewish law. The Law School’s clinical program has been cited as one of the best in the country. Cardozo has graduated more than 7,500 students since its founding in 1976.