Hoarding and Empathy

A recent conference presentation suggests that the extreme emotional attachment of a hoarder to their stuff could stem from an excess of empathy—particularly affective empathy as measured by their response to others’ distress. Collecting and saving are normal, useful and evolutionarily adaptive human traits, buffering against hard times and building up trading stock. Children start collecting as soon as they can gather a few rocks and twigs. But you can definitely have too much of this good thing.