Shopper, Collector, or Hoarder - Which Are You?


With fall comes yearly rituals of back-to-school shopping and purging of unneeded items. Neither activity is bad. But how can you know if your shopping crosses the line? Are you simply adding to your fall wardrobe, building a collection of ties, or becoming a hoarder?

The main differences between hoarding and collecting are emotional. Hoarders gather items out of fear. They want possessions to fill emotional needs. Hoarders get anxious when they think about getting rid of things. They distrust anyone who may try to remove items. Hoarders are often disorganized and may live in unhealthy conditions. They want to hide their hoarding and can become defensive when asked about it.

Collectors may also have lots of things, but their motivations are different. They take pride in what they're collecting - often only a few, specific items as opposed to the many things hoarders have. They want to show their collections to others, and they keep things organized. Collectors have a budget and are strategic in their purchasing.

Hoarding can be treated through cognitive behaviour therapy and support from family and friends. This is particularly true for animal hoarders, who often use animals to fill their need for relationships. Many object hoarders also hoard animals. They take in more animals than they can care for, putting themselves - and the animals - at risk.

If you suspect you or someone you know may be a hoarder, seek professional help.