antique-and-collectible

Psychology of the collector

For a collector, normally, it is the process of research that gives the most pleasure: finding the piece or object that is out of the ordinary or difficult to obtain, with the stories they convey. But alongside this research motivation, there are other psychological characteristics that collectors usually display: being extremely tidy, basing their choices on personal criteria and, in addition, showing what they own. It may happen that these various characteristics are not all there at once, but it seems certain to me that all of them will be verified, perhaps in varying proportions, throughout life. Let’s now analyze these characteristics and identify some key ideas:

Accumulating is not quite collecting.

While the collector is orderly and careful, and is used to advertising his collection by showing it with pride, segmented and disordered accumulation, without a sense of the quality of what is being collected, is a kind of psychopathology, like the Diogenes syndrome. In “Le Système des objets”, the French sociologist Jean Baudrillard has also distinguished between a lower level of accumulation of objects, another level consisting in keeping objects in a series, and what is the collector’s level. Because, according to Baudrillard, a collection is something that rises towards culture.

Orderly and obsessive

Normally, as has already been said, collectors are orderly and careful, but there is also a certain obsessive tendency that can be exacerbated without falling into pathology, and which is directly related to what is collected. There is, moreover, a psychological link with the collected object, which one loves and cherishes.

For all life and for everyone

A majority of collectors start collecting pieces from childhood and pre-adolescence, which are favorable times to start collecting. As David Attenborough, a famous English naturalist, says, in childhood one is a collector by nature: collecting and identifying are basic instincts, something rooted in all of us. Initiated in childhood, this basic instinct will accompany us, if it is not subject to any major constraint, all our lives. Because a living collection is the most attractive part of the adventure, a collection is never complete, there is always something that will attract or that can complement everything we already have. A collector is a living and passionate being. On the other hand, anyone can become a collector, even though distance, time, money, space, etc., can be conditional factors. It is also certain that one can collect things that are lighter, that do not take up too much space and that are not too expensive.

Share and enjoy

For many collectors, there is more satisfaction in showing than in finding. This need to socialize is very strong but can produce great frustration, because there are few spaces open to private collectors, so some choose to open their own space. The connection between public institutions and private collections would be another theme to be addressed and improved. On the other hand, collecting appears to be an advantage in many ways: because it produces a kind of relaxation and, in addition, the satisfaction of obtaining things, from the contemplation of something that for the collector seems beautiful or precious; because it encourages the desire to care for objects and to value them; because it can be a way of learning to manage frustrations, since not everything can be obtained immediately and because it helps to be patient; and because it contributes to increase self-esteem, when showing or exhibiting one’s collection.

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