Clutter blindness

Photo by Flickr user Lollyman. Click for sourceNPR has an interesting interview on the phenomenon of compulsive hoarding where people will be almost unable to throw out used items and will collect mountains of clutter in their houses to the point where they can no longer see the walls.

The discussion is with psychologists and hoarding researchers Randy Frost and Gail Steketee and has lots of novel insights on a recognised but not well-understood behaviour.

I was struck by the bit where the interviewer highlights that lots of hoarders collect newspapers and Frost replies that “we think it’s related to a sense of wanting to acquire and preserve opportunities”. They also discuss the interesting concept of ‘clutter blindness’.

There are lots of similar parts that made me questions the traditional one-size-fits-all explanation that its just variant of obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD.

Apparently the two psychologists have written a book on the topic called Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things and you can read an excerpt on the NPR website.

By the way, if you’re interested in learning more, don’t miss the short documentary Possessed that we’ve recommend previously and you can watch online.

Link to NPR on ‘Hoarding: When Too Much ‘Stuff’ Causes Grief’.

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