Hoarding is driven by a strong emotional connection with an object. A new study from the University of Bath finds this connection is rooted in vivid positive memories.

Researchers interviewed 27 people with hoarding problems and 28 without. Each was asked to remember the last time they discarded or tried to discard an item at home. 

Both groups experienced positive memories while discarding valuable items, such as memories related to a person associated with the object. There was a crucial difference, however, in how the two groups responded to these memories: those without a hoarding problem tried to avoid these pleasant memories, while those with a hoarding problem reveled in them. 

Furthermore, the hoarding participants reported enjoying the positive memories but said they prevented the individual from discarding the object. 

This study suggests that our ability to discard a treasured object depends on our response to object-related memories. While the majority of people are able to set aside these memories, others cannot.


Stewart, N., Brewin, C. R., & Gregory, J. D. (2019, May 2). The Role of Intrusive Imagery in Hoarding Disorder. Behavior Therapy. Retrieved https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0005789419300450?via%3Dihub