Hoarding

What is hoarding disorder?

Hoarding Disorder is associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder and is characterised by the compulsion to acquire objects excessively and store them in a cluttered manner, creating a disorganised and chaotic environment.

People who develop hoarding disorder tend to experience anxiety at the possibility of parting with their items due to emotional attachment and the perception that the items may be required in the future. As a result, they often worry that there may be a negative outcome if they discard them. 

How does it start?

Like other disorders, nobody is born with it which means that there is an origin in the persons’ life where it was created, therefore making hoarding behaviour the symptom of an underlying schema or belief.

There are many reasons why someone may have developed a hoarding disorder, those may include: 

  • Bullying or abuse. – Being treated negatively by loved ones or peers in childhood may cause someone to distance from people and place value and emotion on inanimate objects.
  • Grief or loss. – Someone losing a loved one may trigger a compulsion to accumulate items associated with that person or items attached to memories relating to them.
  • Learned from someone. – Someone with hoarding disorder may have witnessed someone close to them display hoarding behaviours and were exposed to the emotions they experienced in the process.
  • Negative association to discarding. – Someone may have been punished in childhood for throwing away an item they were not supposed to, or they may have thrown something away that they later wished they had kept, triggering emotions of guilt and remorse and thus causing them to struggle with decision-making and to perceive discarding as having negative consequences.
  • Traumatic Event. – Someone may have experienced an incident that was out of their control and respond by accumulating objects they perceive they need, despite this behaviour in itself being excessive and moving out of their control.

Overcoming hoarding disorder

The great news is that hoarding disorder can be completely overcome. In order to overcome a hoarding disorder, it is important to identify the cause and challenge the belief that was created. See it for what it was and not how it felt. Consider that the objects represent an inaccurate belief. Imagine the amazing advantages of having a decluttered home and how much it would improve the quality of your life, your mood and even your health. If you find it difficult to pinpoint when your phobia started, we recommend you start a Timeline.  You might like to use our Declutter Decider to get started.

Living with Hoarding Disorder can be extremely challenging, however, you are not alone. Here at Trauma Research UK, our belief is, ‘it’s not what’s wrong with you, it’s what happened to you’. With this philosophy, we believe that everyone can successfully overcome their mental health issues if given the right help and support. Read more…

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