Extreme collectors: unhealthy obsession or hobby?


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.