What’s The Difference Between My Collection & Your Hoard?

Years ago we bought a beautiful coffee table from Marshall Fields in Chicago. Sadly, Marshall Fields’s no longer exists, but our beautiful coffee table still exists & proudly stands in our living room in Austin, TX. I’m not sure who decided what would be displayed in the top black velvet-lined drawer beneath the glass of our coffee table, but just like that, one side was filled with my beloved collectibles & the other side was filled with George’s. Mine is a collection of all things small & wonderful, collected over the years. George’s side is filled with folding knives of all different colors, types of handles & blades.

We love our collection. So what makes it a collection & not a hoard? We’ve purchased each item specifically over-time & added them together. We are displaying them so we & others can see & enjoy them.  As you can see, we’ve carefully arranged our collection, George’s side to the left & Randi’s to the right. The space is almost full now & I’m good with not adding anything else to our collection.

So when it comes to collections, you can clearly see we have one & it’s not a hoard. A person with a hoarding disorder on the other hand might take any random item they like & think it might be useful, save them for future use & store them in a specific or non-specific location somewhere in their home without organizing it. A person who hoards items might save them for a future need. They might also hoard items as a reminder of past memories or ones that might represent beloved friends, family, or pets.

A person that hoards also has difficulty throwing away or discarding things, moving items from one stack to another without getting rid of anything. In professional organizing call this practice churning. They might also collect unimportant and useless things. They have difficulty in decision making, often delaying decisions until a later time. They are also disorganized & have an unreasonable attachment to material possessions.

A person with a hoarding disorder may be classified into three types. The first kind may show off something claiming it is very valuable & rare while the packaging clearly states that it is only made of a cheap material & can be bought at any store. A person who hoards of the second type may keep a stack of already expired food & insist on keeping it. Lastly, a hoarder of the third type keeps items as a hobby from nonfunctional tools to spools of thread, when they are neither a craftsperson or someone that sews.

As you can see from this image, there is garbage everywhere. There are at least two feet of garbage in front of this couch. As I’d mentioned in a previous post, this is my client’s home. When asked whether he thought his trash was a collection or just trash, he said it was sort of a collection. It was his collection of plastic cups & wires, paper plates, candy wrappers & his used Starbucks cups (to name only a few of the items). He didn’t want to throw anything out just yet. He liked having all of his trash surrounding him. It to him was a collection of what he had been doing for the past few weeks. He could look down & know what his activities were. Okay, that was an interesting perspective. One that brought a better understanding for me about my dear client.

So as you can see literally, our collection lives under glass within our living room coffee tabletop. Part of my client’s hoard is a timeline of his activities as depicted in trash.