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Amassing Stuff – A Collector or a Hoarder..?

September 28, 2013

Amass – definition: to gather many things for oneself; to collect as one’s own


Many of us have watched the TV program called Hoarders, which follows the plight of people literally buried under amassed stuff in their homes. Many have lived in these conditions for many years and become desensitized to their surroundings. It is probably a good thing there is no such thing as aroma vision as I’m sure the smell would be absolutely overpowering. Damage to the property and vermin infestation are common place in these homes and we denounce the hoarder for getting into such a dreadful state. However, once their stories are revealed we can only feel pity. A vast number of these poor souls have experienced devastating loss in their lives and holding on to things is a way of coping.

The items piled up are a mixture of waste products and newly acquired objects, from a wide variety of places, such as thrift stores, garbage bins or garage sales. As we watch the experts try to alleviate the trauma of discarding items, we acknowledge that for the hoarder it is emotionally discarding a loved one, the pain is still very raw. Many have never received help for their grief or depression. It is a sad reflection of the type of dysfunctional family that has become common in Western society as extended families are the exception to the rule.

Faced with such a huge amount of items must be really difficult to cope with for family and friends, many of whom have never seen the inside of the home for a long time, even years. Reactions are usually what we expect as we watch the program unfold but others are much more telling as to why the problem started in the first place. As human beings we need to be loved and love. If this is ripped away from us the natural instinct is to fill the void. The hoarders televised have taken their need to a whole other level, one we have a problem understanding but try to see its not the stuff amassed but the need for comfort, no matter how that is gained.

Have you collected objects to excess? 

I collected Japanese and Chinese crockery and ornaments for some time but became bored and sent them to auction, only keeping a couple of favorite pieces. My main collection is postcards, brochures and tickets of places and events I have visited or attended since I was 5 years old. They are stuck in numerous scrap books, which one day I will renew.

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