The formation of intense emotional attachments to objects, difficulty parting with possessions, and the extreme accumulation of clutter are key features of Hoarding Disorder (HD). Although substantial literature implicates processes such as dysfunctional beliefs and maladaptive emotional cycles in HD, little is known about the vulnerability factors that lead to their development and hoarding symptomatology. The current review sought to systematically collate and integrate findings from studies investigating the relationship between hoarding symptoms and three proposed vulnerability factors: i) interpersonal attachment, ii) early family environment, and iii) traumatic or adverse life events. A comprehensive search of the databases PsycInfo, PubMed, and Scopus identified a total of 39 studies for inclusion. The results presented a complex pattern that supported the presence of relationships between insecure attachment, cold and controlling family experiences, and exposure to adverse life events with increased hoarding severity. However, the specificity of these factors to HD over other clinical groups remains unclear and findings are limited by the heterogenous and small number of studies. We conclude by discussing the clinical implications and limitations of these findings and propose new directions for future research.
- Family environment
- Insecure attachment