Written by Roger McCredie | Photos by Anthony Harden
The what, where, and why of collecting things (a/k/a, you might not be a hoarder if…), and what it means to be a collector.
There are multitudinous explanations for why humans collect stuff; even Sigmund Freud has famously weighed in on the topic, claiming it all goes back to childhood.
And many of those explanations are so erudite that it becomes a chore to follow them, as in this excerpt from a 1988 consumer research report:
Our self-definition is often highly dependent upon our possessions … The collection is especially implicated in the extended self because it is often visible and undeniably represents the collector’s judgments and taste … In addition, the time and effort spent in assembling a collection means that the collector has literally put a part of self into the collection … The notion that collections represent one’s extended self accounts for many of the self-enhancing motives given for collecting, such as seeking power, knowledge, reminders of one’s childhood, prestige, mastery, and control.
It’s a relief, then, to emerge from the thorny scrub growth of the English language into the pleasant glade of a brief 2017 commentary by Daniel Faris, writing on the website ZME Science. Faris, whose piece is titled “The Problem with Using Psychology to Explain Collecting,” says flatly, “Humans have been collecting things ever since we developed the ability to gather more trinkets than were actually required for basic survival… [but] the psychological community is still at a loss for a more specific answer.
“It might be baseball cards, taxidermied squirrels, 1940s Romanian pinup posters, Arnold Schwarzenegger action figures, or whatever else tickles your fancy,” Faris adds. “The truth is, all collectors have reasons of their own.”
The full article continues below. Click to open in fullscreen…