There may appear to be many obvious similarities between collectors and hoarders. The truth is, collectors and hoarders actually lie on opposite sides of a single prism. For those outside the orbit of professional organization, the differences might be confusing, but the difference between the two is a distinction well worth noting.
The Hoarder vs. The Collector
Once shopping behaviors evolve to the gathering and maintenance of countless objects that carry no value to others, and the mounting bric-a-brac begins to creep across all available space to cover beds, countertops, couches or staircases AND any attempt at discarding the detritus causes pain, that gatherer has likely crossed the threshold of the collector and marched right into the realm of the hoarder.
Hoarders tend to have great difficulty when making decisions about where to keep their profusion of artifacts. As a result, they tend to keep almost all their stuff “out” where it won’t be forgotten. This results in masses of ‘things’ being strewn about from floor to ceiling; used paper coffee cups laying forgotten next to an expired refund check and a pile of unopened boxes amassed over weeks of tuning into a favorite TV-shopping site. The reverse is true for the collector who, by nature, has a place for everything in their collection, and most everything in its place.
The Primary Differences Between Hoarders and Collectors
Collectors value and categorize their belongings, often showcasing them in display cases or archives. Hoarders often lump things together without the benefit of system or sequence.
Collectors often carry great pride in their treasures, and delight in exhibiting them to any interested party. Hoarders are often embarrassed and hide their belongings (home, car, etc.) from co-workers, neighbors and even repairmen.
Collectors are usually able to classify, quantify and articulate their exact knowledge of the various items in their collection. Hoarders will assign inflated values to arbitrary things based primarily on sentiment.
Collectors house their collectibles in specific environments, and often find joy or contentment in the company of their treasure. Hoarders harbor little rhyme or reason within the muddle of their mess. Exquisite jewels might be kept with worn socks, rare books in a dirty dog kennel, or cherished photographs among old and slowly decaying magazines.
The Decisive Difference Between Hoarders and Collectors
Most often, there is little logic to the manner in which things are heaped together within a hoarder’s home. In lieu of surrounding themselves with friends and family, hoarders will often confine themselves behind a fence of stuff instead. Most hoarders do not appear to suffer (though many admit to feelings of shame and isolation), but there are irrefutable health and environmental side effects.
Despite the accumulation of things, collectors are able to lead engaging, social lives.
Do you have a hoarder or collector in your life? Are you able to tell the difference?