Dr James Gregory is a Clinical Research Tutor for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programme within the Department of Psychology. Together with Dr Nathalia Gjersoe (Department of Psychology) James carried out a recent Public Engagement Event at We The Curious in Bristol to engage the public in thinking about their possessions.
We all know what it's like to keep objects that are precious to us, from our child's first pair of shoes to the concert ticket from our teenage years. We are also aware of - if not experience directly - the power of marketing in 'helping' us to acquire objects that will 'define' who we are: 'you are what you own!' We can have profound relationships with our possessions. These relationships can be so profound that the line between 'what is mine?' and 'what is me?' can become ever so blurred. This is particularly true of people who experience difficulties associated with excessive acquisition and saving objects, commonly known as Hoarding Disorder, where people will describe the act of throwing away an object as being like losing a part of one's self.
In our recent research, adults with Hoarding Difficulties overwhelmingly told us that their problems started in their teenage years. We identified that it was important to understand the relationship between young people and their objects. The problem is that there is little to no research on the topic of hoarding in young people. My colleague, Dr Nathalia Gjersoe (Department of Psychology) and myself - and ably assisted by Natalie Heath Vaquerin, (University of Bath Psychology Undergraduate) - have undertaken a project to begin addressing this problem. As part of this we recently teamed up with We the Curious in Bristol to engage young people and their family in ideas and concepts from our research, as well as advertising our current project to potential participants! We made a video to capture the experience, we hope you like it.