“Hoarding has been made the subject of many articles, and some riveting television, because it’s one of the most understandable compulsive behaviors. Nobody reading this lacks their version of a hoarder’s cache, whether it’s a stack of old books that we’re not going to read, a long Netflix queue we’re not going to watch, or a drawer full of cords, adapters, chargers, and remotes that we’re never going to sort out, we all cling to something.
There are analyses of hoarding from a social standpoint. As consumerism grows, we invest our possessions with more and more value. We even become convinced our possessions have attitudes and feelings, which is a delusion common among hoarders. (Toy Story, which turned inanimate objects into feeling things that dreaded being thrown away and could retain feelings even when broken, is probably responsible for a few young hoarders.)
Most importantly, brain scans of hoarders have shown that when considering whether to throw things out, hoarders have an unusual amount of activity in the orbitofrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex — both areas of the brain involved in decision-making. Everyone’s brains light up when we consider throwing things out. What if I need this later? Can’t there be some other use for it? But it reminds me of my great aunt! A hoarder’s brain lights up intensely for everything.
Whenever you decide that you’ll definitely use that screwdriver again and let it drop back into your junk drawer, you’re experiencing what a hoarder feels for everything they’ve ever possessed. We don’t approximate what they feel, we feel what they feel. We just feel it for fewer things.”