The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Clutterfin­gers -

In­dia Hay­lor, di­rec­tor of the Ob­ses­sive Com­pul­sive Dis­or­der Cen­tre in Lon­don, fears that the way we hoard stuff is a sign of a deeper malaise. “About 10 to 15 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion have OCD,” she says, “but peo­ple can get away with it if it is sub-clin­i­cal and their part­ner doesn’t have a vi­o­lent re­ac­tion against it. They’re usu­ally just seen as ec­centrics.”

She be­lieves hoard­ing is a re­sponse trig­gered by risk aver­sion. “Peo­ple are sur­round­ing them­selves and pro­tect­ing them­selves with their things. They are scared of los­ing some­thing that they might need in the fu­ture – whether that’s in­for­ma­tion, a spare lap­top or clothes. Their emo­tional re­sponse to th­ese things is over-fir­ing, which leads to anx­i­ety.”

How­ever, a group of re­searchers in Lon­don, Brus­sels and Hei­del­berg be­lieves that our emo­tional at­tach­ment to our pos­ses­sions has been “hard-wired” into our brains to help us to sur­vive, and goes back to a time when food was hard to come by. In a hunter-gath­erer en­vi­ron­ment, where peo­ple have to swap meat against, say, ber­ries to get a bal­anced diet, it is ad­van­ta­geous to de­velop a strong lik­ing for the food to which one has im­me­di­ate ac­cess.

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