Collecting is still very much a part of modern life; one-third of adults engage in the hobby in the UK. In today’s society, it appears rather easy to distinguish the extreme from the casual hobbyist. Who hasn’t watched a show about extreme collecting and had a good chuckle? You know; when people take their love for Star Wars a little too far? But aside from those few, collecting can be great fun, and very rewarding.
Collecting can often begin at a young age. Think back to the days on the school playground where physically running around with a football was replaced by trading Match Attax cards in the hope that you’d land a Ronaldo, or Steven Gerrard, in your dream football team collection. Many continue this habit with new collecting hobbies in their teenage years. Beyond adolescence there are many individuals that give up collecting for good. But sometimes you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and these habits can hang around for a lifetime.
Why collect though? It could be just for interest, to discover hidden gems, to build an epic unrivalled collection, or just for financial gain. For most, it is about attaching to an object of desire: strong feelings of connection when adding new items to a collection. There is also the joy of being able to share a collection with fellow collectors. Is there anything more satisfying than finding a fellow appreciator?
Collecting attracts both the weird and the wonderful. Common trends, particularly for millennials, include the resurgence of collecting vinyl, with music lovers, and self-identified hipsters re-discovering the medium. If you’re a music lover Canterbury is the perfect place to hunt for new additions to your collection. Shops like the Vinylstore Jr on Castle Street offer a fantastic selection of new and second-hand records with a range of new and old records to suit any fan.
There are also some bizarre collectors out there. Joann and Cecil Dixon from Elkhart County have managed to collect over 6,500 chicken-related items, ranging from chicken fridge magnets to chicken ornaments. And those who remember the trend of the troll dolls, Sherry Groom has managed to collect an incredible 3,500 of them. Forget the Pokémon Go app; Lisa Courtney from Hertfordshire has amassed a total of 17,127 Pokémon themed items and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection.
When you find a hobby it keeps you occupied, and can help you meet like-minded people. The problems only start to appear when the hobby dictates your actions. For most people, collecting won’t interfere with daily life, but in 2 -5% of the adult population out of control collecting can lead to a diagnosis of hoarding disorder as listed in the DSM-5. Hoarders are defined as showing signs of four behaviours: 1) Difficulty discarding objects; 2) Strong urges to keep, and distress at throwing out; 3) Accumulation and clutter; 4) Clinically significant distress or impairment. Researchers have stressed that many collectors will meet the first and second criterions, however the average collector is not likely to show signs of criterion three or four. Enjoying collecting shouldn’t ring alarm bells but if you spot signs of collecting taken to the extreme, it may be appropriate to seek out help.