Why do people collect things (The psychology of collectors)

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why do people collect things?

Why do people collect stuff and keep them?
Its completely normal to be extremely interested in something because you like it but when this interest exceeds norms, forces you to pile objects at home and interferes with your life then something else might be going on in your mind.

In this article i am not going to talk about people who collect certain objects because they are interested in the objects themselves but i am rather going to take about the ones who became compulsive hoarders without quite understanding the reason.

In my previous article, the psychology of hobbies, i said that people develop certain hobbies in order to fill certain emotional gaps and the same thing happens with collectors but in a different way.

Since early years human beings used to collect food in order to feel safe and secure. Because acquiring food was a difficult process with uncertain outcomes humans learned to ease their anxieties by storing the food they needed.

The same need, which is to feel secure, is the primary motivating force behind the creation of collections.

The psychology of collectors

Because life is uncertain and can easily make a person feel helpless some people use their collections to create a private comfort zone that they can control. By arranging and disarranging their collections compulsive hoarders can regain the sense of control over their lives.

These actions reduce anxiety and helps those people cope with the uncertainty of the real world.

some collectors are nostalgic. They are so much attached to the past because they believe that it was much better than their present. Because those people want to keep these good memories they turn into compulsive collectors. By doing so they unconsciously believe that they have protected the important memory and prevented it from being taken away from them.

People who suffer from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) have a higher chance of becoming compulsive hoarders. When examining OCD and compulsive hoarding from a psychological point of view you will find that they have a lot in common.

In both cases the person is distracting himself from the real life challenges by perusing simpler challenges in his own private world.

Reviving good memories through collections

Some people collect stuff in order to create a bank of good memories that they can get back to whenever things go wrong. If their lives became bitter those people can get instant mood boosts by going back to their collections and recalling the good memories.

Even though i am not against any of these coping strategies its important to know that the only way to achieve real happiness is to fix your present instead of recalling your past.

No matter how better you feel after revisiting your collection your current life will force you back into the bad mood. The only way to fix things permanently is to fight for a better future instead of leaning on a good past to feel better.

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