Hoarding image. Photo: Shutterstock
Nov 07 2017 Posted: 14:56 GMT

The School of Psychology at NUI Galway is seeking over 1,000 participants across Ireland to take part in an online study to understand the relationship between major life events such as bereavement and compulsive hoarding. The study will be the largest of its kind ever conducted in Ireland.

The researchers are looking for people with all levels of hoarding to participate, ranging from people who may just have cluttered, disorganised homes to those who may have a serious difficulty, as well as people who do not hoard.

People who hoard often have very cluttered homes as they keep things that may seem useless to other people, buy things they don’t need, and feel they can’t throw anything away. However, hoarding is more common than was previously thought and it is not well understood. Previous research has shown that hoarders often feel a very strong emotional attachment to their belongings, and they might feel the need to save things should they need them in the future.

This NUI Galway study is interested in looking at how people’s life experiences relate to hoarding. It seeks to understand whether the experience of losing a loved one or other major life events might make people more likely to accumulate belongings and have difficultly throwing things away. The researchers believe that this might be the key to understanding and helping people with this difficulty. 

The study is being carried out by Dr Elizabeth Kehoe, a doctoral student on the clinical psychology training programme at the School of Psychology in NUI Galway and Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the clinical programme.

Speaking about the study, Dr Kehoe said: “We are interested in the emotional reasons why people hoard, and with this study we will investigate the link between bereavement and other difficult life events, and hoarding. For example, belongings might bring a sense of comfort or safety following a loss.”

Dr Jonathan Egan Director from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, and a Chartered Clinical and Chartered Health Psychologist with the Psychological Society of Ireland, said: “The team are really interested in a holistic view of why we collect things and why it can increase at times following a bereavement or personal upset. We want to hear from a large range of people, from those who would rate themselves as ‘life-long-Magpies’ to those who have noticed that it is becoming difficult to part with newspapers and other non-essential house-hold items, or even that their house is becoming very crammed and it affects the ability to share their home with guests.”

To participate in the study visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/nuighoarding

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