Extreme collectors: unhealthy obsession or hobby?

Extreme collectors
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Extreme collectors
French Model Emeline Duhautoy poses with her collection of 1,679 stuffed toy cows she has been collecting for over seven years at her home in Saint-Omer, northern France, March 12, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Barbie collector Jian Yang stands on a stool as he arranges part of his collection at his home in Singapore September 2, 2013. The white exterior and spartan grey staircase of Jian Yang's tidy rowhouse give no hint of the shock that lies within - a pink living room floor and his collection of more than 6,000�Barbie�dolls. The 33-year-old Singaporean favours minimalist decor but the Barbies and 3,000 dolls of other kinds dominate three sides of the main room and spill over to fill nine mirrored cabinets in his dressing room and the shelves of his study. REUTERS/Edgar Su (SINGAPORE - Tags: SOCIETY)
Italian collector Domenico Agostinelli works in his museum in Dragona, near Rome November 4, 2014. Agostinelli, 74, has a passion that has led him over the past 60 years to pick up and collect things of all types, from antique art to everyday objects of the past and present. His collection includes a 65-million-year-old dinosaur egg, meteor fragments, a car that once belonged to American mob boss Al Capone, a lock of hair of Italian national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi, toys, weapons, musical instruments of all kinds and many more. REUTERS/Tony Gentile (ITALY - Tags: SOCIETY PROFILE TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE 6 OF 29 FOR WIDER IMAGE PACKAGE 'GUARDIAN OF TIME' SEARCH 'COLLECTOR TONY' FOR ALL IMAGES
Dolls are seen on the balcony of artist and collector Etanis Gonzalez in Caracas, Venezuela, July 16, 2016. Picture taken July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Star Wars collector James Burns, 44, poses for a photograph with some of his collection in London December 2, 2015. He said "I�e met so many wonderful people, all over the world. It� a wonderful community of likeminded people with an interest in Star Wars. There� nothing else like it". REUTERS/Paul Hackett PICTURE 2 OF 12 - SEARCH "FANS COLLECTION" FOR ALL IMAGES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The "Diana" room is seen in the house of Margaret Tyler in west London October 16, 2013. The royal fan has dedicated the inside of her house as a shrine to Britain's royal family. Picture taken on October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville (BRITAIN - Tags: SOCIETY ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT)
Andrea Rojas, 70, poses with her collection of dolls at her home in Heredia August 5, 2015. Rojas has been collecting dolls for over twenty years and has more than 4,500 dolls. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Herbert Chavez poses with his Superman collection inside his house in Calamba Laguna, south of Manila October 12, 2011. In his idolization of the superhero, Chavez, a self-professed "pageant trainer" who owns two costume stores, has undergone a series of cosmetic surgeries for his nose, cheeks, lips and chin down to his thighs and even his skin color to look more like the "Man of Steel". The final result bears little resemblance to his old self. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo (PHILIPPINES - Tags: SOCIETY)
Antique gun collector Dave Kleiner reviews paperwork during the East Coast Fine Arms Show in Stamford, Connecticut, January 5, 2013. The show is being held despite the mayor's plea that the event not be held so soon after last month's massacre at an elementary school in nearby Newtown. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
Stone collector Luigi Lineri, 79, walks through his stone collection found along Adige river, at his home workshop in Zevio, near Verona, Italy, June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi SEARCH "STONE COLLECTOR" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Mary Hickey aged 93, poses with her collection of dolls at her home in Ashbourne, Ireland October 9, 2013. Hickey has been collecting the dolls for over thirty years and now owns over 420 dolls. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton (IRELAND - Tags: SOCIETY)
Yvette Dardenne, 75, from Belgium, walks among hundreds of vintage lithographed tin boxes, which are part of a huge collection displayed at her house in Grand-Hallet, eastern Belgium August 5, 2013. Dardenne, who currently possesses about 56,800 boxes from around the world, said her passion started 22 years ago when her aunt gave her a decorated chocolate box from the late 1950s. According to Dardenne, the boxes are like a history book, describing the major events of the last two centuries. In addition to commercials advertising the products they contain, the boxes are often decorated with pictures typical of a certain historic era or describing a historic event such as a royal wedding. Some were also designed to serve as toys or later used for other purposes such as serving as a paper weight. The boxes displayed contained all kind of products such as biscuits, soap, tobacco, tea, and medicine. Picture taken August 5, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman (BELGIUM - Tags: SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Thomas Hui poses with his glass case displaying more than 100 pins featuring former North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at his apartment in Hong Kong, China April 11, 2016. Collector Thomas Hui, 37, a former bank employee in Hong Kong, who is fascinated by North Korean pins and badges, has gathered over 100 featuring former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and has been buying and trading these Communist accessories since 2008. Picture taken April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Growing up, many people start a collection: baseball cards, beanie babies, trinkets of their favorite celebrity -- the list goes on and on. For most people after some time these collections stop growing or are forgotten about altogether; but for some, these collections turn into a longtime passion and grow to massive quantities. These people are known as extreme collectors.

The National Psychologist suggests that we collect things for various reasons. Some may collect for possible financial gain, pleasure, opportunities to meet others with the same interests, preserving history, the thrill of tracking down the item, while others enjoy the organizational aspect.

For those who collect, there is a fine line between healthy activity and mental health red flags. 'Collectors' can be classified as hoarders when their behavior affects their daily life. For example, if someone were to spend hours each day organizing their collection and started to neglect other parts of their life in favor of preserving their collection this would qualify as a negative impact. Not all hoarding cases are as extreme as those we have seen on shows like 'Hoarders' and 'Hoarding: buried alive.'

Another dark side of collecting is obsession. One man, Herbert Chavez has taken his love for Superman past collecting trinkets to complete emulation. Chavez has gone as far as cosmetically altering his nose, cheeks, skin color, and thighs to resemble his idol.

This is not to say that every person who has a passion for collecting struggles with their mental health. Many people have used their hobby to improve their quality of life. James Burns, a 'Star Wars' collector has credited his collection to being able to meet wonderful people all over the world who share his love for the famed movie saga.

While collecting may not be for everyone, it's safe to say those who take part in it have unearthed some truly remarkable finds and the psychology behind it is absolutely fascinating.

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