Hoarders want love

Are there things in your home, perhaps items of clothing or blankets or knick-knacks, that you really don’t need anymore? If so, you are not alone; hoarding is a popular human past-time. What is it though that makes us hang onto things well beyond their “use-by” date? A new study suggests that it has found the answer.

Admit it; there is a purple t-shirt in your cupboard that you bought on your first trip to Paris which used to say, “Café Paris” but which now says “Cate Par” because the silverfish have got to it. It’s two sizes too small now anyway but you just can’t throw it out because…well, just because!

Or perhaps you have that faded green blanket complete with wee and vomit stains that you were given when your first child was born. Your kids are in high school now but who knows when that blanket might be needed, right!? Actually, we all know it will never be “needed” but you just can’t let it go.

This is what hoarders do; they keep things that have no current use but why do they (we) do it?

In new research experimenters established how much subjects valued certain objects in their homes like blankets and pens. The subjects were asked to place a monetary value on their possessions and then also completed questionnaires designed to establish their personality traits.

It was found that people who did not feel secure and loved placed a monetary value on objects that was up to five times greater than people who felt more secure.

People value possessions because they provide a sense of protection, insurance, and comfort. So feeling secure in your relationships and feeling loved leads to less value being placed on physical possessions. Feeling loved and accepted by others provides a sense of personal protection so that “things” are not required to create that sense of security.

The researchers point out that this could point to a way to help people who are compulsive hoarders. The thing is not to focus on the hoarding activity itself as this is just a symptom. Instead, look to creating secure interpersonal relationships and that purple Parisian t-shirt and that smelly old blanket will be consigned to the bin in a flash.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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