Well over a million people living in the UK are significant hoarders. It is one thing to keep things for sentimental value. However, when the collection starts affecting lifestyle then perhaps welfare should intervene.
Scientists at University of Bath have been researching new ways to help people release clutter. Science Daily reports they appear to be making progress.
Their New Research Identifies a Significant Distinguishing Factor
The Bath scientists have found what they call important differences between hoarders and non-hoarders discarding objects. Moreover, their memories have an important role to play too.
The scientists already know that strong emotional connections with objects influence hoarding powerfully. However, their research suggests “vivid, positive memories” powerfully influence these relationships.
Drilling Down Deeper Into the Essence of This Interesting Matter
Individual items become “extensions of given memories” according to their report appearing in Behavioural Therapy journal. Here we may imagine a cricket bat associating with a century that won a match, as opposed to a fuzzy general memory.
This adds a crystal insight into understanding why hoarding is so difficult to resolve. We recall another article we posted describing decluttering as “giving away a part of me”. The intense pain becomes is little closer to our understanding now.
How This Finding Influences Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Thinking
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has helped hoarders understand why they accumulate objects, and find them so difficult to throw away. The technique seeks to change patterns of thinking behind behaviour that subjects wish to change.
The Bath researchers hope their fresh insights will help hoarders respond to their object-linked memories, and make more rational decisions that improve the quality of their lives as they clear their homes.
Even More Compelling Reasons Why These Findings are Significant
Hoarding can clutter living spaces to the extent they block their occupants out. The Royal Society of Psychiatrists says hoarding disorder “can have profound negative effects on the lives of people living with the problem.
“This extends to those around them,” they say. “Particularly with respect to emotional and physical well-being, health and safety, and finances too.” Lead researcher Nick Stewart explains how cognitive behavioural therapy can help break this chain.
“People who hoard are often offered CBT to help them understand the thoughts and feelings associated with their saving and acquiring behaviours,” he says. “This approach is very beneficial for some people, but not all.
“Our aim is to understand better the psychological factors that drive hoarding behaviour, to give us clues for how therapy for hoarding might be improved.” His team asked subjects with, and without hoarding disorder to recall memories that came to mind the last time they discarded, or tried to discard items at home.
It’s the Way We Respond to Object-Related Memories that Matters
Both groups of subjects reported positive memories while discarding objects. However, the non-hoarders suppressed these, while the hoarders allowed them to flood in which is a critical difference.
Lead researcher Nick Stewart concludes “It’s the way in which we respond to these object-related memories that dictates whether we hold onto an object or let it go.” This is food for thought indeed.