At first glance for many, the main struggle presented by compulsive hoarding is the clutter. Overflowing a person’s drawers, closets and storage spaces, limiting living space and making certain aspects of the home inaccessible and non-functioning, clutter is surely the main culprit. However, as many who face compulsive hoarding, as well as their loved ones know, clutter problems almost always occur in conjunction with difficulty throwing items away and for some, problems with collecting or buying more items than one needs (acquisition).
Researchers and therapists believe that difficulty with discarding and problems with acquisition play an important role as behaviors which often create and influence clutter.
In working with individuals dealing with compulsive hoarding, therapists have found that addressing the discarding and acquisition behaviors are a crucial part of treatment. Recently, researchers have been further investigating the processes of discarding and acquisition in those with compulsive hoarding. They have done so through a series of experimental tasks which mimic challenge opportunities presented in treatment. These tasks are designed to elicit thoughts and feelings associated with discarding and acquisition, in order to more fully understand the phenomenon and further inform future treatments.