Category: Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders
Hoarding disorder (HD) is a debilitating illness characterized by significant difficulty discarding possessions that results in clutter that interferes with one’s ability to use one’s home. Research regarding risk factors for HD is relatively limited. One factor that may contribute to increased hoarding symptoms is exposure to a traumatic event. In particular, exposure to interpersonal traumas, such as physical or sexual assault, are among the most commonly reported traumas in individuals with hoarding. Moreover, increased exposure to interpersonal traumas is associated with increased hoarding symptoms. However, no research to date has examined potential mechanisms that may account for the relationship between exposure to interpersonal trauma and increased hoarding symptoms. One potential mechanism may be aggression. Indeed, trauma exposure is associated with increased anger and hostility towards others. Moreover, hoarding is associated with significant interpersonal difficulties, though it remains unclear as to whether these difficulties are risk factors for or consequences of hoarding symptoms. The current study aimed to examine a) the relationship between hoarding and aggression, and b) the potential mediating role of aggression in the relationship between exposure to interpersonal trauma and hoarding symptoms.
Community participants seeking treatment for anxiety and related conditions (N = 296) completed a battery of questionnaires assessing trauma exposure, hoarding symptoms, aggression, depression symptoms, and trait anxiety. Results revealed that when accounting for depression and anxiety, hoarding symptoms were positively associated with aggression, r = .20, p < .001. Moreover, there was a significant indirect effect of exposure to interpersonal trauma on hoarding symptoms through aggression, B = .72, SE = .45, 95% CI [.10, 1.93]. Taken together, our findings suggest that aggression may partially account for the relationship between exposure to interpersonal trauma and hoarding. Specifically, exposure to interpersonal trauma may result in increased aggression toward others, thereby contributing to increased interpersonal difficulties and subsequent increased tendencies to save possessions. Results will be discussed in light of implications for the role of aggression in the etiology, maintenance, and treatment of HD.