Object Attachment and the Things We Hold Dear

Daily writing prompt
What personal belongings do you hold most dear?

The National Institute of Health defines object attachment as “the experience a person has when they feel an emotional attachment to an inanimate object and may even feel a sense of loss if they were to part with the object.” Most hoarders have a severe emotional attachment to the items that they hoard. They’ll save a bag of their mom’s trash just because they can’t stand the thought of throwing away that last thing from their parents. Attachment to an object goes beyond hoarding and affects those with OCD.

Those with OCD will hold on to books, newspapers, old assignments from school, clothes that don’t fit, old toys, or even sometimes broken items or parts for things. Is holding on to something for fear that you might need it sometime in the future hoarding or a by-product of OCD? My OCD is more than just having to go back and check the door to make sure that it is locked three times before bed, not being able to leave the volume of the radio or TV on an odd number, doing things in the same order every day or else it throws your entire day into chaos, or perhaps its attributing feelings and emotions to old toys.

I have an object attachment to many things, but none more so than my old toy Grover. Without fear of being placed in an insane asylum, I have a borderline unhealthy attachment to my oldest childhood toy. I don’t necessarily have the affliction that has come to light in the last 20 years. Thanks to a movie in which the syndrome shares the same name, Toy Story Syndrome is the belief that these material possessions, especially toys, have emotions and an active consciousness. Of course, this has to do with the fear that when we walk out of a room, our toys come to life and merely pretend to be ‘toys’ when we play with them. And when we don’t play with or neglect them, we hurt their feelings.

A recent psychological study showed that more and more children become emotionally attached to cuddly toys, blankets, and even clothing items because they believe they ‘possess a unique essence or life force.’ The study showed up to 70% of children (predominately in the Western world) develop a strong attachment to objects such as toys or blankets. We are comforted by the anthropomorphic qualities we give these objects.

We may think that emotional attachment is found only in children, but that is far from the truth. The things that we obsess over change from toys to other items when we grow older. Ever know that lady who has a ‘favorite dress’ to wear to go out? Or perhaps you know a sports fan who refuses to wash his jersey all season and has to wear it EVERY game day, or it will bring a curse to his team? Or maybe an old epigrammatic person who always says the same thing, as if it’s by impulse? Or maybe you have a necklace you always wear because your grandma gave it to you. Or you’re a six times NBA champion, five-time NBA MVP, and known as the greatest basketball player of all time who wore his UNC Chapel Hill practice shorts under his NBA uniform for good luck?

Life events have a way of impacting all of these things. Children in the Western world sleep by themselves earlier than children in other parts of the world, so object attachment is more common here. Later in life, it could be not being able to deal with a relative passing away, and having that tangible object from that relative brings them comfort. In my case, it could be not wanting to part with your oldest friend. And even though my object attachment to Grover is not Toy Story Syndrome, I ensure he’s comfortable, even if he’s in a drawer – by my side.


Grover Toy Image – Fair Use.

Hoarders Attic by Donald Trung Quoc Don (Chữ Hán: 徵國單) – Wikimedia Commons – © CC BY-SA 4.0 International.(Want to use this image?)Original publication 📤: –Donald Trung 『徵國單』 (No Fake News 💬) (WikiProject Numismatics 💴) (Articles 📚) 16:19, 12 April 2023 (UTC) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=130660860

A Child with Horse Toy by Partridge Studios – eBay / 10michaelps951, Public Domain, Fair Use, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48824327

Michael Jordan ESPN advertisement by Unknown author – El Gráfico, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86281370

Featured Image – Grover and Kid by LBJ Library from Austin – LBJ_9861, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63903932

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