We were delighted to be involved with contributing to research study on how past and present experiences affect your reactions to personal possessions. The research was conducted by Jessica Barton, a trainee clinical psychologist at the University of Oxford, working with Paul Salkovskis and his team late 2019.
Members of our hoarding support groups in Berkshire were keen to participate and many contributed to this vital piece of research.
The purpose of the study was to help understand how the way people respond to people and things when they were younger has an impact how they relate to people and things now. The study also looked how early relationships affect present friendships and looked at issues such as loneliness, social isolation and social support.
The foundation of John Bowlby’s attachment theory suggests that humans have basic need for social connection and through our childhood experiences, our attachment styles are consequently developed. The research looks at the attachment styles of those with and without hoarding behaviours.
Findings in this study also generate questions about how varied the experiences are of those with hoarding issues. For some people, beliefs about “harm avoidance” are more relevant. This is a theme that runs through our support groups in terms of “people hurt me, stuff doesn’t”. The two attachments styles “fearful attachment” and “preoccupied attachment” appear to be more prevalent for those with hoarding issues.
Social isolation and loneliness
The research included 38 individuals with hoarding behaviours, 57 individuals with OCD and 49 “healthy control” participants not experiencing mental health concerns. The study found that individuals with hoarding and OCD reported higher levels of loneliness and social isolation compared to the ‘healthy control’ group.
What does this mean and what next?
The perceived poorer quality of parenting is important and relevant to individuals with hoarding disorder but it’s not unique. Intervention for people with hoarding designed to promote interpersonal effective skills, social support and positive relationships is needed.
To read the whole study – please click here.