Collecting seems to be intrinsic to our existence, whether it be for aesthetic purposes, to form our identity or simply to remember, the fact is; we all collect something. I am very interested in the sentimental attachments we have we our objects and why we feel the need to keep inanimate and functionless objects.
What I am currently attempting to discover within my thesis is the root of a person's collecting, where it begins and why we show such strong emotional attachments to our possessions. My research began by reading an almost auto-biographical book by William D King, a self confessed 'collector of nothing'. They are collectors, King states, 'who do not desire collectible items, not a thing anyone else would wish to collect'. This is one important rule to my thesis, the collectors I am interested in are not those who collect objects of value or a defined set or series. I want to learn more about people who collect without realising, and obsessive collectors (e.g shells, letters, crisp packets, scraps of metal) and hoarders.
In short, what I have come to find from my readings so far is that collecting begins with childhood, usually these items are given to us, not bought, therefore making us feel impolite if we do not accept the gift and carry on the collection. Collecting initially stems from lack, in particular lack of attachment to people. I am not saying that objects are a replacement for people, but rather a substitution for social interaction. This may develop from incidents such as physical harm or severe emotional trauma or neglect, to less tangible states or distress and anxiety where no form of help or comfort was apparent. Just as one person may find much satisfaction in eating to find comfort, another individual may come to favour objects instead of people, a tendency often observed in obsessional collectors. The acquisition of an object can temporarily fill the void, giving the collector a feeling of reassurance and allowing them to feel attachment.