Hoarders and Collectors

Hoarders and Collectors

What’s the difference between a hoarder and a collector?

Hoarding belongings is generally seen as a negative and a problem, while being a collector is not.
The result, however, may be an accumulation of belongings that can be difficult to accommodate in the average family home.
Psychologists, however, have developed ways of distinguishing between the two and explaining why hoarding can be a problem and a sign of a disturbed personality and behaviour. While we all have items around our homes that we don’t really need, the hoarder will find it difficult to admit they have a problem.

Collecting and Hoarding

When does collecting become a hoard?


Hoarding, they argue, can be a type of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and can also be associated with anxiety, depression, and past trauma.
Hoarding in this way is about control. Collections are often indiscriminate and disorganised and can be taken to extremes. Often the items being hoarded have no value, such as junk mail, items that need repair, and are generally kept in heaps rather than in any organised display. Often, hoarders are actually embarrassed by their “collections” and reluctant to let anyone into their homes.


The collector, on the other hand, is generally proud of whatever it is that they collect and enjoys the process. Collecting is often a social pursuit, in that collectors will often meet with others with similar interests to share and display what they have collected and to swap items.
There will often be a specific location in their homes where the collection is stored and displayed.

How to spot the difference

So there are three signs by which you can spot whether someone is a hoarder rather than a collector.
1. Collections are organised where hoarding is disorganised
2. Collecting is often a shared passion while hoarding is a solitary obsession
3. Collection is usually controlled while hoarding is usually extreme and uncontrolled

Display of items

Well presented collection of items

It can still happen that a collection outgrows the space available in the home and that is where self-storage can help.
You can store and display your items safely and with 24-hour access you can get to them any time you like.


For more information on OCD please see our next blog – guest written by Eric Van Buskirk of American website DOPA Solution “Accessible for all people. On all devices. All the time”