Memories Form 'Barrier' to Letting Go of Objects for People Who Hoard

Posted on June 21, 2019

Individuals with hoarding disorder are often unwilling to discard their belongings, which may result in heaps of mess in their homes over time, making it unpleasant to live in. The emotional attachment they have towards these items keeps them from throwing these items away, hence driving their hoarding tendencies.

A study was conducted at the University of Bath to distinguish between people with hoarding disorders and those without where their memories are concerned. Using structured interviews, participants were asked to describe the last time they discarded or tried to get rid of their possessions. Findings indicated that participants without hoarding problems avoided thinking about the happy memories they had when remembering the item, while participants who hoarded did not attempt to suppress these thoughts.

The way people deal with positive memories associated with their possessions will determine whether they discard it or not. Therefore, this suggests that those with hoarding problems have difficulty detaching themselves from the joyful memories related to these items. Given these information, better cognitive-behavioral techniques could be used to help individuals with hoarding disorders to lead a clutter-free life.

People who have hoarding issues often undergo cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to understand their thoughts concerning throwing possessions away such that it does not hinder their ability to discard things that they no longer need. The new findings push CBT for hoarding issues towards working on how people can change the way they react to the positive memories associated with the things they want to get rid of. This could be done by training individuals to conjure competing images to counter those positive images. However, more extensive research is needed to ensure that these methods would produce effective CBT for these individuals.

While hoarding may remind individuals of the positive memories they once experienced and provide them with a sense of security, the messy surroundings resulting from hoarding may prevent them from living comfortably.

Category(s):Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Other

Source material from Science Daily