The difference between hoarding and collecting are three things I collect on a regular basis; socks, ink pens, and hotel keycards.  The pens get left or lost with the same frequency with which they are purchased. Same goes for the socks. Although I think the washer eats those most of the time. As for the keycards, they’re in a box. Not a very big box, but in a box with other mementos. So at what point could or would be considered hoarding?


If every available surface of my home contained a sock, pen, or keycard and I maintained an irrational attachment to the items.


One definition of hoarding, according to the Mayo Clinic, – is a persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them  A person with hoarding disorder will experience actual stress when faced with throwing away any items, regardless of value.


Shows like ‘Hoarders’ and ‘Who Wants a Clean HOuse’ helped to bring this psychological disorder to light. I’m sure you know someone who claims tire “collection” of soda pop bottle caps and bent paper clips are the most valuable thing ever and have a meltdown when you clean up, or even mention throwing away their trash.


Collecting on the other hand, is done with the purpose of enjoyment, bragging rights, or profit.  Coins, stamps, baseball cards, and paintings come to mind when collection is mentioned. Many times the owner of those items look to trade, or sell these valuable items, but do not maintain more than a cursory attachment to the items.


Getting rid of an old sock, a busted pen, or a tattered keycard will not send me into a n anxiety attack. Now if you touch my stash of chocolate…well that’s a different story.

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