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When does collecting cross the line into hoarding?

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KurtNYC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 05:38 PM
Original message
When does collecting cross the line into hoarding?
I have seen a couple TV shows recently on hoarders and hoarding. And it is easy in extreme examples to see how dysfunctional it is. But probably most of us have some things that others might perceive as junk. Semi valueless items that embody a memory or a piece of relationship. A gift or two that we don't use but can't throw away because someone in our lives gave it to us with love.

A friend of mine lived with a hoarder who was not nearly as extreme as those featured on the shows but she had no sense of smell (or perhaps a very limited one due to an operation on her nose). She described her refrigerator as "an attack refrigerator" because when you opened it stuff would start falling out.

The larger culture seems to encourage hoarding. Many of us have multiple trash cans for recycling. Stacks of newspapers, cans and bottles. It is as if the law wants to make us hoard. The fashion industry wants us to buy new clothes all the time (but hang on to the old ones because 'it will come back into style.). Big box stores sell 48 rolls of toilet paper in one package, etc. McDonald's dishes out another painted plastic toy with every kid's meal. A key selling point for new homes is walk-in closets and huge kitchens with walk-in pantries. With this much critical mass behind consumerism I am surprised we are not all hoarders.

The shows have been in the back of my mind for a week. I saw a homeless person with a cart full of stuff, pushing it around, wearing 4 layers of clothing -- clearly dysfunctional. And I wondered 'was this person homeless before the hoarding or BECAUSE of it?' And a couple of famous quotes have popped up: "one man's junk is another man's treasure" and "Give up your worldly possessions and follow Me." And of course George Carlin's routine on stuff. I think it is fascinating if a little disturbing.

Is hoarding just a symptom of a consumerist culture that has us all immersed in semi worthless stuff?
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Archae Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:08 PM
Response to Original message
1. When the collections can't be walked around...
Or they stink...
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Ikonoklast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:08 PM
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2. A collector will sell or trade part of his accumulated pieces.
A hoarder will not.
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HopeHoops Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
3. 48 rolls of toilet paper in one package makes sense..
since they also sell burritos by the gross.

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Bucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:21 PM
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4. Use of the phrase "Git offa mah land, durn ya, yankees!" while brandishing a shotgun is the line
Once you do that, your teeth start falling out in uneven patterns.
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elocs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:25 PM
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5. Well, if I do it then it collecting. With someone else it is hoarding.
The toilet paper thing is interesting. I have a friend who seems deathly afraid that she might run out of toilet paper so she keeps a 6 month supply for just herself and her husband. Her family must have run out when she was a kid and created a phobia in her.

I do love the George Carlin routine about stuff.
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:56 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. a funny story and now i wish i remember exactly when it happened
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 08:58 PM by pitohui
i actually remember this as being abt the cuban missile crisis which seems unlikely because of how young i was

i'm gonna assume it actually occurred during some other cold war crisis, prob. in the carter or reagan eras when we were having a rough time w. the soviets

there was some buzz going around that nuclear war was gonna start at any moment

some of us went to the grocery store and stocked up on canned food

we later read in our newspapers about all the folk who ran to t he grocery store...and...wait for it...stocked up on toilet paper!!!! thus sending the price of TP to unprecedented levels

whoa, it's just me, but couldn't you crap on old catalogs in event of global thermonuclear wars, seems that not having "charmin" would be the least of your issues... :-)

on a serious note, no one died in katrina/rita for lack of TP, they died for lack of food and water, but people back in the prosperous 50s,60s, 70s had very unrealistic ideas, methinks

if the bombs are falling in 15 minutes per ronald reagan, BUY CANNED FOOD AND BOTTLED WATER is my advice from this side of the apocalypse
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guitar man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 06:27 PM
Response to Original message
6. It depends
according to my wife, 6 reel to reel tape decks is hoarding. :rofl:
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pitohui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 08:52 PM
Response to Original message
7. collecting is for pleasure, hoarding is for fear
it is possible to collect items of no real value, for reasons best known to the collector, i'm thinking of those guys who collect say old commodore 64s

i may not understand what they do, but there is a purpose and a hobby to it, no different than me collecting gemstones, although i may be snooty and point out that gemstones are of more value and take of less space...at the end of the day, i'm not gonna sell them (except to upgrade my collection and buy a better gemstone) so it's the same thing...a collection i make for personal enjoyment that won't except by chance financially benefit me

people HOARD out of fear, because they are afraid of lack, hence the storage of worthless glass jars or out dated cell phones or whatever random pieces of crap -- they fear being so poor that they need to go back to their personal landfill, as it were

to me that's the essential difference

whenever the clutter gets too outrageous, i sell some items, the day i'm afraid to sell any items and i start making excuses for why i can't sell (or why i can't get on freecycle and earn good karma by giving away) some items is the day i should know i'm acting out of fear instead of out of appreciation for the beauties and possibility of the items
'
test yourself

CAN you give something away? CAN you sell something? CAN you toss something? CAN you donate something? (donate to an organization as opposed to give to a friend) If you can do all 4 of these, then you're gonna be OK

for my collection, since my house is small, i have a rule that i don't add an item to my collection without selling 2 items, this helps the collecting hobby support itself, means my collection grows more valuable over time, and keeps me from being overloaded with crap

one year, when i was really pressed, i made the rule -- NO NEW ITEMS UNLESS I SOLD 5 ITEMS, it worked very well to keep down the clutter

try it, you'll like it

i'll never be a neat bare bones minimalist but i won't be using rock climbing equipment to get over my crap either

i've been told "your house is like a museum" which i think is flattering

collect unashamed, just don't HOARD out of fear

there is nothing wrong w. enjoying the beautiful or the interesting (collecting), there is a lot wrong w. letting fear of the future fill your home w. garbage
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