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The Psychology Behind Hoarding

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hope-relationships/201409/the-psychology-behind-hoarding

psychologytoday.com

The Psychology Behind Hoarding
Recently, the phenomenon known as hoarding has come into greater public awareness, propelled by graphic scenes on television showing homes crammed floor-to-ceiling with an astonishing amount of stuff. A&E's Hoarders has shown not only that hoarding is a relatively widespread affliction-the International OCD Foundation estimates that one in every 50 people struggles with severe hoarding-but also that the public is fascinated by it.

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Hoarding

Hoarding

Severe hoarding afflicts about one in every fifty people.

Their compulsion causes the hoarders to suffer mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially. Relationships seem to suffer the most as families and friends struggle to cope with their condition.

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Hoarding is a type of OCD

Hoarding is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Hoarding is accompanied by varying levels of anxiety and often, depression as well. Peculiar commonalities among hoarders include severe emotional attachment to inanimate objects and extreme anxiety when making decisions.

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Symptoms of a hoarding disorder

Hoarding can be just a personal preference, but it can be viewed as a disorder when that behavior starts to negatively impact daily functioning. Symptoms of a hoarding disorder:

  • There is difficulty getting rid of possessions, regardless of their value or lack thereof.
  • The difficulty in discarding possessions is due to distress associated with getting rid of them.
  • The difficulty in discarding possessions leads to clutter and compromise of living spaces.
  • Hoarding creates clinically significant distress or impairment in functioning, including the ability to maintain a safe space.

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Hoarding tendencies

There are known risk factors that cause someone to become a hoarder, such as experiencing a traumatic event, persistent difficulty making decisions, and having a family member that is a hoarder.

Hoarding tendencies often emerge in adolescence. Many hoarders are also socially withdrawn and may hoard to find comfort.

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Different types of "shopaholics"

  • Compulsive shoppers: Buying when they are feeling emotional distress.
  • Trophy shoppers: They are always looking for the next great item.
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Socially acceptable

Shopping can be socially acceptable because consumerism is continually pushed on us in the forms of posters, adverts, and signs.

Shopping is also a way of life: You need food and clothing from stores. Even if you try to stop compulsive buying by avoiding the stores in person, there is still a world of online shopping.

Addiction vs compulsion

Addiction describes trying something, becoming emotionally and physically dependent on it, and then becoming psychologically and physically addicted to it. People who struggle with addiction have explained feeling euphoric, elevated, happy, complete, and whole when they partake in their addiction. Compulsion refers to a specific, intense urge to do something. People who struggle with a compulsion explain feeling immense relief and relaxation from completing behaviors that they feel compelled to do.

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A compulsive behavior

A compulsive behavior

It involves actions a person feels driven to do over and over again.

Compulsive actions may appear to be irrational or pointless, but the individuals may feel incapable of ...

Compulsion vs. Addiction

A compulsion is an overwhelming desire to do something. An addiction is a physical or chemical dependence on a substance or behaviour.

Two key differences between compulsion and addiction:

  • Pleasure. Compulsive behaviours rarely result in feelings of pleasure. People with addictions desire the substance or behaviour because they expect to enjoy it.
  • Awareness: People with compulsive disorders are typically aware of their behaviours and bothered by the lack of logical reason for doing them. People with addictions are unaware of or unconcerned about the negative consequences of their actions.

Compulsion vs. Habit

  • Habits are repeated actions that must be consciously initiated. Eventually, the process becomes subconscious and automatic: for example, when you are brushing your teeth.
  • Unhealthy habits can become a compulsion or even an addiction. For example, the good habit of regular exercising can become an unhealthy compulsion or addiction when done in excess.

The difference between a compulsive behaviour and a habit is the ability to choose to do them.

Attraction Towards Stuff

Attraction Towards Stuff

Right from childhood, we are attracted to things that we can call our own, stuff like clothes, toys, bags, and books, later morphing into adult toys like cars, jewellery, furniture, Playstations an...

Kids And Possessions

  • In children, attachment to certain objects like a favourite toy or blanket is common.
  • They can rebel or move to tears when made to part with the object they are attached to, as a deep bond is formed.
  • The object aids the kid’s transition to adulthood and is more common when they are not attached to their parents.

Attachment To Objects: Mid Adolescence

Being happy with material goods peaks during the formative years, when new experiences make the teenager’s already fragile self-esteem fluctuate. A sense of self-worth and respect makes them less prone to attachment towards materialist objects.

Pre-teen girls identify so much with material objects like clothes, that if they exchange it with each other, it feels that they have shared their identity.