Hoarding is a fear based activity, which stems from an individuals past history of experiences. These experiences may have left them feeling that they didn't have enough, or that they were in severe danger at one time and now crave security. Both of these factors put together can cause extreme hoarding where the hoarder can hardly move around safely in their own home because it is choc a block with saved items.
The psychology of hoarding is slightly different to that of collecting, although the two often become confused with one another. When you are a hoarder you may stash away items indiscriminately, whether they be the insides of toilets rolls or last years newspapers.
Collecting however, is an intentional activity which is selective. The collector usually chooses to gather together and keep items which he or she particularly likes. The hoarder tends to keep items which 'may come in useful some day', but never really will.
Hoarding behaviour can change to a certain extent and appear for different reasons due to what generation the hoarder comes from. Elderly folks today who are hoarders are likely to have experienced world war two. They may well have had to scrimp and scrape enough goods and food together to keep themselves going. They may also have never stopped doing so, even though times have improved.
The deep seated fear, along with the deep seated habitual quality of the behavioural activity in such cases will have embedded hoarding into the nature of the individuals where it has never left.
It is not unusual to discover people who survived the war who save every single carrier bag that they ever had, every leaflet on household appliances that they no-longer have and a variety of other objects which will never be of use to them.
Many of us who have not been through the war though, or a dreadful experience, are still capable of hoarding to a lesser degree. This can come about because we feel the need for security for other reasons than a world wide event that devastates us along with others.
If you never get rid of anything then you can kid yourself, but only to a degree, into believing that you are somehow preparing for an uncertain future. by stockpiling you may be subconsciously attempting to protect yourself in the future. Hence a hoarder may say that they are keeping items because they may need them at another time.
The truth is though, that hoarding doesn't really create a safety net. But when someone feels that they need one they will create one, even a made up one, in an attempt to make themselves feel less stressed.