As was mentioned above, those who evidence Hoarding Disorder display great difficulty with both overacquiring, as well as disgarding items. The key issue is, what is the primary reason for these maladaptive behaviors? The answer seems to involve three primary factors: (1) information processing deficits, (2) the "meaningfulness" which one places on their possessions, and (3) maladaptive "core beliefs" displayed by the person who evidences Hoarding Disorder. With respect to information processing, those with Hoarding Disorder have a tendency to show a bias with respect to the manner in which they attend to certain objects in their immediate surroundings. That is, they tend to over focus on these objects to the extent of paying too much attention to nonessential details concerning the objects themselves, thus making it very difficult to categorize its imporant elements or attributes. Thus, everything about the object appears to some degree of importance, thus making it virtually impossible to order (prioritize) any particular characteristic as being more important than another. This manner of information processesing results in great difficulty with respect to making decisions about whether to keep or discard any particular possession.
In addition, those with Hoarding Disorder tend to associate a unique meaningfulness, or value, regarding their possessions. Three types of values take precedence: (a) Instrumental Value, which realtes to the belief that the possession may be of use to this individual, or someone else in the near or distant future. Thus, to discard the object would be a "mistake", as well as representing an "irresponsible" personality characteristic; (b) Sentimental Value, which relates to the degree of emotion associated with a particular possession. For example, the object may not be seen as particularly useful (Instrumental Value), but the deep emotion associated with it, making discarding the possesion nearly impossible; and (c) Instrinsic Value, which relates to the "beauty" of the object itself. Thus, when these three variables are taken together, the individual with Hoarding Disorder can find a multitude of reasons for keeping nearly all of their possessions..."just in case", they or someone else may one day be able to use the object, or it is simply just too lovely or emotional to discard.
Another addtional factor realted to both the cause and maintenence of Hoarding Disorder concerns the tendency to frequently display several forms of maladaptive cognitive "core beliefs". This type of response pattern has been discussed in another section of this web site, but to briefly summarize, those with Hoarding Disorder have a consistent tendency to overexagerate the degree of responsibility they feel when needing to make a choice concerning the act of either acquiring or discarding a particular object. To not acquire an object, or to discard one, may result in having made a mistake, thus bringing about a feeling of having acted in an irresponable manner. In addition, another core belief held by those who display Hoarding Disorder deals with the concerpt of "emotional reasoning" (i.e., reasoning that things are the way they are, based on the emotion that one is feeling at that time). When faced with the situation of having to decide if some particular object should be kept, or discarded, should the individual begin to feel sad, ambivilent, guilty, etc., then these feelings may act as the decisive factor to keep the item, as opposed to discarding it. Or, at the very least, to decide to procrastinate such a decision out of fear of making an "irresponsible mistake" (i.e., a "lost opportunity").