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The Difference Between Hoarding and Collecting

Are you proud of the items in your home or do they embarrass you?

A common question people ask me when we discuss my work as a Professional Organizer is, “What is the difference between hoarding and collecting?”  This is a great question.  I have always answered it in my own way, but recently came across a great answer to the question in the book I am reading called Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding by Fugen Neziroglu et. al.  In part, here is what Neziroglu et. al. had to say on the matter:

Generally speaking, collectors are proud of their possessions and enjoy showing them off.  An avid car collector would enjoy driving his vintage sports car around the block; a boy who collects baseball cards would be proud to show them to his friends.  Collectors often find joy in their collection and go out of their way to impress others.  They make reference to their collection during conversations or go to conferences to meet others with similar interests.  Collectors often have a specific location in their home for their collection.

If you are a hoarder you may be embarrassed by your possessions.  You purchase them with the intention of finding some function for them but end up feeling embarrassed by them.  When one item is purchased another will follow, followed by another, followed by another and so on until there are more items than places to put them.   This process usually results in clutter.  Clutter is the product of either having too many items with not enough storage or feeling overwhelmed by the possessions and not knowing where to put them.  

I feel the descriptions given above are accurate to what I see with my clients.  The shame of showing their home to friends and family keeps people away in an attempt to hide the condition of the home.  While those who hoard tend to have items they would consider collectables, the care of the items is lacking.

How do you feel about the items in your home?  Are you more inclined to want to show them off and share them with others?  Or are you ashamed and embarrassed?

Hillary Adams Case is a Professional Organizer with Living Peace LLC of Salem, MA and Winchester, MA.  Check us out at www.living-peace.com.  Or call (617) 519-5693.

Photo curtosy Mircea Turcan.

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