This is something that has surely been around for many, many years. In the very beginning of human evolution it was probably only food that was hoarded for those moments when it would be in short supply.
However, in the modern day world, this can relate to just about everything on this planet, Food will of course be one of them and so can: clothes, furniture, different appliances and numerous other objects and items.
Bigger houses are often brought and extensions created as a way to deal with what has been accumulated. If ones suitcase on holiday is not big enough for all that has been consumed; one can buy a bigger one and then buy more.
The latest surge in storage units is partly a consequence of hoarding and is a sign that it will continue and has no intention of slowing down.
For some people this will involve holding onto what no longer has a purpose. And instead of letting it go, it will be kept or stored away. It may also involve having more than one actually needs or will ever have enough time to wear or use.
The reasons as to why one would do this can vary and will often come through the ego minds filter. This will mean that justifications and rationalisations will often be utilized.
And this can mean that unless one is conscious of why they are hoarding, they could end up being enslaved to this habit.
I believe that there are three primary reasons as to why people hoard. This is not to say that there are no other reasons or that hoarding is also completely negative or dysfunctional. What I am taking a closer look at is the extreme cases of hoarding. And not the odd occasion that someone may hoard.
What I believe will have a strong influence on whether one becomes a compulsive hoarder or not is the quality of their early childhood care. If one can emotionally regulate themselves or not; how secure their attachment style is and whether they have experienced trauma, will all have an effect on this.
And although they are three separate things, each relates and influences each other. For example, if one has experienced trauma as a child and has the ability to regulate themselves, it can be a lot easier to deal with. As opposed to someone who doesn’t have this ability.
Just as having a healthy or secure attachment style is going to mean that one is likely to be able to reach out to others when they are feeling emotionally unstable and cannot regulate themselves. Whereas if one didn’t have a secure attachment style it could lead to a higher chance of one isolating or closing themselves off and trying to cope on their own.
Although hoarding has to do with physical things, it is also having an effect on ones emotions. However, as I have mentioned above, this process can go on so naturally and without awareness that one could be completely unaware of what makes them hoard.
What hoarding can lead to is emotional regulation. Through this, ones emotions can be kept at bay, repressed and covered up. Feelings of emptiness, aloneness, abandonment and isolation that can come about through being insecurely attached as a child, can also be regulated. And any trauma that has not been dealt with can also be regulated through hoarding.
The importance of early care cannot be emphasised enough here. When it comes to being able to regulate oneself, having a secure attachment style and the amount of trauma one has experienced, are all directly shaped by this care.
If a caregiver is empathic and therefore attuned to the Childs needs, it is likely to develop the ability to self regulate and to form a healthy attachment style. And as a result of this, if trauma is experienced at this stage it is likely that the caregiver will be there to regulate the child.
And in later life, one will have a developed this ability within and so is in a better position to deal with what life brings and to ask others for assistance.
When a caregiver is unempathic and therefore out of touch with the needs and wants of their child, all kinds of problems can develop. Self regulation is unlikely to be developed and an insecure attachment style is also likely to be formed. And as a result of this, trauma has a higher chance of being experienced.
This can then mean that as an adult, seeking regulation through external things is perceived as the only option. Because they have never experienced being regulated by their caregivers and so didn’t internalise this ability. Or learn that it was acceptable to look to others to assist with this.
The Modern Day World
And in the modern world, where caregivers are often over worked and full of stress; it is naturally going to affect the quality of care received. As a result of this extra stress, they are often absent either physically or emotionally; which limits the quality of this early care. That can change of course, if another caregiver is consistently used to create a secure attachment during their absence for example.
As well as this, there are also the instances where caregivers pass on the same abusive care that they received. And out of their lack of awareness, continue the cycle of abuse that was inflicted upon them.
These are just some factors in what has shaped the modern day rise in hoarding. Everything has consequences and I believe that extreme hoarding is often a result of early care lowering in quality. This is not to say that one has no choice in later life.
Changes can be made in later life with the right assistance and support. Awareness is also important, unless one is aware of what they are doing; there is not much chance of anything changing. Emotional intelligence is part of this process and something that is beneficial to every area of one’s life.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.