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OBJECTIVES: Unmet interpersonal needs may play a role in excessive emotional attachments to objects for people with hoarding disorder (HD). Previous research indicates that social support (but not attachment difficulties) may be specific to HD. The study aimed to evaluate social networks and support in HD relative to clinical controls with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and healthy controls (HC). The secondary aim was to explore the extent of loneliness and thwarted belongingness. Potential mechanisms for deficits in social support were also considered. DESIGN: A cross-sectional between-groups design was used to compare scores on measures in those with HD (n = 37); OCD (n = 31); and HCs (n = 45). METHODS: Participants completed a structured clinical interview by telephone (to assign diagnostic categories) followed by online questionnaires. RESULTS: Whilst individuals with HD and OCD both report smaller social networks than HC, lower levels of perceived social support appear to be specific to HD. The HD group also showed higher levels of loneliness and thwarted belonging compared to OCD and HC. No differences were found between groups for perceived criticism or trauma. CONCLUSIONS: The results support previous findings of lower levels of self-reported social support within HD. Loneliness and thwarted belongingness also appear significantly elevated within HD compared with OCD and HC. Further research is required to explore the nature of felt support and belonging, direction of effect and to identify potential mechanisms. Clinical implications include advocating and promoting support systems (both personal supporters and professionals) for individuals with HD.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Clin Psychol

Publication Date



hoarding, loneliness, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social support, thwarted belongingness