The Psychology of Hoarding: Why Do People Keep Unnecessary Items?


Hoarding has become an increasing problem in modern society and it is not just limited to those who are the most vulnerable. Many people struggle with an excessive and compulsive need to acquire, store, and hoard items of all kinds, often to the detriment of their mental and physical wellbeing. Hoarding has been linked to a range of psychological issues, and understanding why someone might hoard can help to provide insight into a person’s behaviour.

One of the key psychological theories behind hoarding is the “Saving and Collecting” theory. According to this theory, individuals hoard items because of the sense of security, accomplishment, and control that it gives them. Hoarding can become a coping mechanism for individuals who lack control in other areas of their life, as it gives them a sense of control over their possessions. Additionally, individuals may hoard items due to a fear of losing out on potential opportunities or resources that these items may provide in the future. The act of collecting and saving can be comforting and reassuring, and some people take comfort in the fact that they will be prepared if a need arises in the future.

Additionally, hoarding can be linked to anxiety and depression. People who hoard items may also experience intense anxiety when it comes to discarding or throwing away items that they have acquired. This anxiety can be linked to a fear of losing control over their possessions, or a fear of not being able to replace the item if needed in the future. This fear can lead to a reluctance to part with items, leading to a build up of possessions that the individual may not need.

The idea of loss and regret can also be a factor in hoarding. People who hoard items may be obsessed with the idea of not being able to replace something if it is thrown away. This fear of regret can cause people to become overly attached to their possessions, leading them to keep items that they may not need.

Hoarding can also be linked to attachment issues. People who hoard items may be overly attached to their possessions and have difficulty letting go of items that they believe are important to them. This attachment can be linked to a fear of abandonment and a need for security, as the individual believes that the items may provide a level of comfort and security in the case of an emotional absence.

Finally, hoarding can be linked to a need for perfection. People who hoard items may find it difficult to discard items that they believe may be perfect or useful in some way. This need for perfection can lead to an excessive accumulation of items and an unwillingness to discard items that may be unnecessary.

Understanding the psychology behind hoarding can help to provide insight into why someone might be struggling with an excessive and compulsive need to hoard items. It is important that those who suffer from hoarding understand that it is an often treatable condition and that it is possible to gain control over their hoarding behaviour. Professional therapy and support can help individuals to better manage their behaviour and assist them in taking steps to reduce the amount of items they are hoarding. Additionally, it is important to remember that it is possible to find joy in letting go of unnecessary possessions and that it is possible to find a sense of control and security without an excessive accumulation of items.

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