Featured image for “The Hoarded Brain”

The Hoarded Brain

May 17, 2023


Sam Wainman, Psychologist & PhD Researcher, looks at the the brain activity of someone with Hoarding Disorder/Behaviour.

Here is a recap of the key information covered.

Overview of Hoarding & The Brain

Psychology follows the scientific process; this means the understanding of Hoarding disorder is always being refined. Initial research that focused on hoarding was heavily linked with OCD, which caused some misunderstandings. Hoarding Disorder has since been recognised as its own separate condition.

scrabble pieces spelling the word hoarding

Hoarding disorder is underpinned by a number of different brain processes. Those who hoard tend to show greater:

  • Fear of forgetting
  • Indecisiveness and perfectionism
  • Attachments to possessions
  • Discomfort when discarding
  • Feelings of safety in clutter

Understanding how these are reflected in brain activity means that we can better address these difficulties, which in turn may make hoarding issues easier to address

Neuroplasticity – Hoarding & The Brain

brain neurones

What is Neuroplasticity? Neurones that fire together wire together. When neurones are active at the same time, there can be an increase in connectivity, meaning that a related skill or train of thought more readily available. This can be utilised to help those facing hoarding issues highlighted above.

By being mindful of the skills and thoughts we want to increase or decrease, we can address hoarding issues. We can change our response to situations, learn new habits and reduce discomfort.

Neurodiversity and Hoarding

Neurodiversity is very important when understanding hoarding challenges. Each person is unique and understanding them as whole, rather than just their hoarding will help us to understand each other and ourselves better.

Autism spectrum disorders and hoarding have a complicated relationship. Those who hoard show more autistic traits than those who don’t but this could be attributed to poorer mental health overall.

Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder also has a relationship with hoarding. Although, the nature of this relationship remains unclear.

The way ADHD or ASD influences or does not influence a person’s hoarding behaviour is very individual. It is important to understand a person in order to begin to understand the influence of neurodiversity on their hoarding behaviour. For some, neurodiversity may be the reason that they hoard, but for others it may influence the way they hoard or the way they make sense of their hoarding.

It is important to see everyone as more than their possessions or a diagnosis, but to try to understand each person as a whole.

black and white brain image


Sam has joined Heather & David on the Hoarding Stuff Podcast multiple times, discussing similar themes to those included in the seminar, including looking at Virtual Reality as a treatment option for Hoarding Disorder.

Virtually chatting with Greg Chasson and Sam Wainman


Hoarding Stuff: Virtual Reality with Sam Wainman



The Psychology of Hoarding logo

If you missed out on yesterdays training or are looking to further your knowledge in the subject, Sam offers accredited The Psychology of Hoarding Training with Clouds End.

Current available dates for training 

Accredited The Psychology of Hoarding Training

Friday 20th September 2023

9.30am – 4.00pm


Accredited The Psychology of Hoarding Training

Wednesday 17th January 2024

9.30am – 4.00pm


This is available to book in-house on a date that suits your organisation, please email knowledgespace@cloudsend.org.uk

Contact us for more information

Clouds End logo

Hoarding Support – help@cloudsend.org.uk

Hoarding Training – knowledgespace@cloudsend.org.uk