The Role of Intrusive Imagery in Hoarding Disorder

Nicholas Stewart, Chris R. Brewin, James D. Gregory

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Despite the incidence of trauma in the histories of people with Hoarding Disorder (HD), reexperiencing symptoms, namely intrusive images, have not been investigated in the condition. To address this, 27 individuals who met DSM-5 criteria for HD and 28 community controls (CCs)were interviewed about (a)their everyday experiences of intrusive imagery, and (b)the unexpected images they experience when discarding high- and low-value possessions. Compared to CCs, everyday images described by the HD group were more frequent, had a greater negative valence, and were associated with greater interference in everyday life and attempts to avoid the imagery. With regard to discard-related imagery, a MANOVA followed up with mixed ANOVAs showed that HD participants reported more negative experiences of intrusive imagery in comparison with CCs during recent episodes of discarding objects of low subjective value. However, HD and CC participants both experienced positive imagery when discarding high-value objects. CC participants reported greater avoidance of imagery in the high-value object condition, but imagery-avoidance did not change between conditions for HD participants. The findings are discussed, particularly in relation to the potential of imagery-based interventions for HD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-53
Number of pages12
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number1
Early online date2 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • autobiographical memory
  • hoarding disorder
  • imagery
  • intrusive thoughts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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