Sigmund Freud didn’t see collecting as stemming from these kinds of motivations. He postulated that collecting ties back to the time of toilet training, of course. Freud suggested that the loss of control and what went down the toilet was a traumatic occurrence and that, therefore, the collector is trying to gain back not only control but “possessions” that were lost so many years ago. Well that’s Freud.
While Freud may clearly have overstated the issue, his explanation serves as a nice segue into the dark side of “collecting,” the psychopathological form described as hoarding. The “abnormality” of the hoarder shows up in those instances where the aberrant behavior interferes with an otherwise “reasonable life.” This can sometimes even include gross interference with the lives of others, even leading to enforcement issues.
Some theorists suggest that the behavior associated with hoarding can be an extreme variation on compulsive buying. Compulsive buying, in turn, is closely related to major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and in particular, compulsive hoarding.
According to a study by Kyrios, Frost and Steketee, compulsive buying is thought to be influenced by a range of cognitive domains including deficits in decision-making, emotional attachments to objects, erroneous beliefs about possessions and other maladaptive beliefs. Some “experts” have described the psychopathology of hoarding as “repetitive acquisition syndrome.”