Packrat syndrome spreads to Sweden
Packrat syndrome is characterized by abnormal hoarding behavior, often rationalized as "collecting." Sufferers of this disease are likely to be in denial about their illness, often explaining their need to save things by exclaiming "just in case!!" Similar to the way that some species of birds such as magpies are unable to resist aluminum and other shiny objects, sufferers of packrat syndrome are drawn towards useless items.
Sufferers of packrat syndrome often accumulate things such as unused boxes, old wrapping paper, jars and butter containers, scraps of fabric, old carpet samples, picture frames, old magazines and newspapers, used sporting equipment, Moroccan lamps, out-of-date VHS and audio cassette tapes from the 1980s, broken appliances confiscated from their grandparents basement, etc. They are also known to go to extreme efforts to collect other people's junk, for example at garage sales or flea markets. They squirrel away these items in cellars and attics with the intent of using them at some point in the future, but oftentimes these items never again see the light of day.
In extreme cases, people with this disease have also collected an assortment of old cars, known as “beaters.” In some instances, the ratio of vehicles to household member can be as high as 5:1.
The disease does have periods of remission, but outbreaks are most likely to occur during Spring Cleaning, and can also be triggered by stressful events such as moving, and in some individuals, even packing for an extended vacation can cause a re-occurrence of the disease.
The disease is not known to be contagious, but it can cause secondary symptoms, such as muscle strain and backache, among people who, for example, help a sufferer of packrat syndrome move from one place to another.
Geneticists are fascinated by packrat syndrome. It is quite common for the offspring of people with packrat syndrome to develop the disease. It is unclear where or not it is hereditary or the result of environmental stimuli in early childhood. The children of people who like stuff tend to also exhibit a similar affinity for stuff and an extreme aversion to Feng Shui. Symptoms can be detected in children as young as two, although late onset packrat syndrome can also occur.