Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hoarding: The virtual reality of clutter


Psychologist Kieron O’Connor has compiled a list 30 pages long of different objects he has seen hoarders accumulate. The list includes newspapers, empty cornflake packages and toilet paper rolls.

“It’s a very difficult problem to treat,” he says. “People collect things and they can’t get rid of them. They build up at home and often take over so the person has no living space.”

O’Connor, with two colleagues, is studying whether virtual reality could be a possible treatment for hoarding. It is believed to be the first study of its kind in Canada. It takes place at the University of Quebec Outaouais (UQO) in Gatineau. The university is one of the few in North America doing research in cyberpsychology.

In the early 1990s, clinical psychologists recognized the potential of virtual reality and began incorporating it into their practices. It has helped people overcome fear of heights and spiders, for example..." More

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