Virtual Reality Shows Promise In Helping Hoarders Declutter


Researchers at Stanford University in the USA have explored the potential of virtual reality (VR) in helping individuals with hoarding disorder tackle their compulsion to hoard — it’s a condition that affects around 2.5% of the American population and is characterized by a persistent urge to acquire new possessions and an extreme difficulty in parting with items, regardless of their value, often leading to living in cluttered and unsanitary conditions.

Published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, the study involved nine hoarders over the age of 55. Researchers asked them to document the most cluttered room in their homes with photos and videos, which were then transformed into personalized 3D environments for use in VR. During the experiment, participants navigated these virtual rooms and practiced managing their possessions using VR headsets and controllers.

Hoarding disorder is a condition that affects around 2.5% of the American population and is characterized by a persistent urge to acquire new possessions and extreme difficulty in parting with items.

In addition to the VR sessions, the volunteers engaged in 16 weeks of online group therapy, where they received peer support and learned cognitive behavioral skills related to hoarding. During the VR sessions, they were guided to place certain items in virtual recycling, donation, or garbage bins, encouraging them to consider decluttering in reality.

The results were promising, with seven out of nine participants reporting reduced symptoms during the experiment. Researchers noted that the clutter in the homes of eight participants appeared less pronounced. However, the improvements were comparable to those in the control group, which only received group therapy without VR.

While some participants expressed concerns about the realism of the VR environments, the researchers believe that refining this technology could enhance the treatment experience. The study indicates that VR is well-received by individuals with hoarding disorder, including older patients, and has the potential to help them confront the challenges of decluttering.

The innovative approach could offer a promising solution for those dealing with this complex and challenging disorder, reducing the stigma associated with seeking help and addressing the issue in a more engaging manner.

Filed in Gadgets. Read more about .



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