#CamFest Speaker Spotlight

Dr Sharon Morein

Dr Sharon Morein, Associate Professor at Anglia Ruskin University, will talk about what can lead people to accumulate belongings and exhibit hoarding tendencies and how, when excessive, these can lead to hoarding disorder. She will be speaking in Too much stuff in the house! What do people hoard? on 1st April at 1-2pm.

Why does your research matter?

How we control our actions and decisions matters when it comes to understanding human behaviour in general and for when it can go wrong and end up being maladaptive. My research specifically looks at behaviours that can be classed as impulsive or compulsive and what happens to people when this impairs their everyday life and wellbeing.

What drew you to studying hoarding?

Some aspects of hoarding can be classed as compulsive behaviour, where one repeatedly behaves in a way that contrasts with one’s long-term goals. It is one of the most understudied mental health conditions, but I think one of the most complex and interesting.

What is the crossover between hoarding and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [OCD] and ADHD?

Until 2013 hoarding was considered a subtype of OCD, but in actuality most people with hoarding disorder do not have any obsessions or compulsions in that sense. Although there is some overlap and about 20% of people who hoard also have OCD, it seems more of them might have ADHD, in particular problems with inattention, which includes problems with planning and organising. Because it is so understudied, we don’t have exact figures yet.

What can research show us about what prompts hoarding behaviour?

Although most of the research has focused on older individuals (specifically over 50s), we know the condition often develops in late teens and early adulthood. We suspect that there is a hereditary component, but just like many other mental health conditions, adverse life events, including experiencing loss and interpersonal difficulties, can prompt hoarding behaviours.

What is digital hoarding?

Digital hoarding is used colloquially to refer to excessive accumulation of digital possessions (for instance, digital copies of photographs, music, films, documents or emails) which the person finds difficult to discard even if they won’t need or use them anymore. On rare occasions these ‘digital possessions’ can be so disorganised or be difficult to manage that they can have an adverse effect on everyday life.