The next time your mom complains that you don't throw junk away, tell her that you're in good company: nearly 15 million people suffer from varying degrees of hoarding disorder. But what causes hoarding?
A few years ago, Samson (not his real name) unplugged his refrigerator. It had, he says, “got out of hand.” He didn’t empty it, and he hasn’t opened it since.
That's how Bonnie Tsui's journey to understanding the science of hoarding began:
In a National Public Radio interview a couple of years ago, Frost talked about the reasons hoarders might collect certain items: a decades-old newspaper because it could be useful in the future; an array of bottle caps purely for their fascinating physical characteristics; a seemingly insignificant postcard because it reminded the owner of a loved one or a specific event. Frost saw universality in the way the beliefs seem to be tied to information processing. “There are some problems with attention—that is, distractibility and sometimes a hyper focus, problems with categorization, the ability to organize things,” he explained. “People who hoard tend to live their lives visually and spatially instead of categorically, like the rest of us do.” One of his patients, Irene, would put an electricity bill on top of a pile; if she needed it again, she would remember where it was in space, rather than filing it away—mentally and physically—in a “bills” category.
“We don’t know the nature of the emotional attachments that people who hoard have to objects,” Frost told me. “How do they form, and why are they so? What are the vulnerabilities that lead up to it?”
Read the rest of Bonnie's article over at Pacific Standard Magazine: Link