1. The well-written, accessible, first-person personal account of hoarding behavior.
2. The insight into the reasons why people accumulate items.
It would be naïve not to assume that at least some M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors are afflicted with hoarding tendencies. Even if every M.U.S.C.L.E. collector was given a perfect bill of mental health there would still be value in wondering, “Why do I need to have these little pieces of plastic?”
The American Psychiatric Association does not currently list Hoarding as its own entity – rather a symptom of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. There are some people that argue Hoarding should receive its own designation as a disorder. Regardless of its classification, the behaviors and actions of a hoarder are observable. Bearing witness to these behaviors can offer, an interested person, perspective on their own habits. Michael S. Rosenwald writes:
Like most people, when I think of hoarding, the images that come to mind are the horrific scenes of uninhabitable homes that enter our living rooms during Sweeps Week. We watch these TV tales in the same way that we slow down for multiple-vehicle pileups on the Beltway. A couple of years ago, in an episode titled “Inside the Secret Lives of Hoarders,” Oprah Winfrey visited a Rockville couple whose 3,000-square-foot home was overflowing with 75 tons of garbage. I went looking for the clips the other day on Oprah’s Web site, and the page about the show shouted, “Uncover what’s behind a hoarder’s closed doors!” I felt my stomach turn. The exclamation point, to me, screamed: “Freak show here. Step right up.” For many Americans, these are hoarders, no further details needed. But as I now know, that’s not the whole story.
Collectors likely share that same belief. That because they aren’t covered in garbage, that they aren’t hoarders. Michael talked about how some hoarders had seemingly clean houses, only to have hundreds of boxes filling attics and basements. The contents of these boxes are secondary – why are they there?
Michael shared his tendency to purchase multiple copies of the same item, for fear he wouldn’t have the opportunity again. When he participated in an interview for an Abnormal Psychology course he had an epiphany:
All of the stuff I pile up is a sort of second body, my twin. I am Michael Rosenwald, and those piles — the books, magazines, fountain pens, inks, newspapers, everything — are also me. The more I have of it, the more I am me.
Some collectors may scoff at the idea that there behaviors are anything more than a fun hobby. They may say, “I just sold a bunch of stuff on eBay! That isn’t me.” In Michael’s case he was able to both throw away and give away many of his belongings. Sadly change is not a one-time process. Two weeks later his piles were back. Change is an ongoing process. To get the most enjoyment out of their lives and collections collectors should constantly be asking themselves the questions that Dr. Randy Frost asked Michael:
“What am I without my things? That gets to this whole issue. A sense of identity. What am I without my stuff? What’s happened over the years is the stuff has somehow invaded your sense of self, your identity, because without it you feel like you don’t know who you are.”