Collecting: Beyond Freud and Muensterberger

Accumulating: Past Freud and Muensterberger


Some readers who contact me by means of Psychology At present and my Site inform me that they’re relieved to seek out there are optimistic causes for amassing. That collectors doubt themselves although they really feel glad and glad inside after they accumulate brings up an vital query. Why?

I imagine it has to do, a minimum of partly, with the written observations of two earlier luminaries. One, Freud, expressed less-than-positive causes as to why collectors accumulate. The opposite, Muensterberger, wrote unflattering descriptions of collectors in addition to childhood points as being the basis of collectors’ motives for amassing. Their reasoning was based mostly on observations quite than exhausting scientific proof, which is out there to us immediately. However, their notions have lingered, and proceed to affect collectors to marvel if their motives for amassing are lower than worthy. Worse, others might undertake this angle as nicely.

Transient Historical past: Freud

Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), often called the founding father of psychoanalysis, related amassing in maturity with difficulties throughout bathroom coaching in childhood. Moreover, he alluded to numerous inherent fears that he felt had been exaggerated in collectors, however that had been eased by means of amassing. One creator, Temma Ehrenfeld, even used Freud’s idea of motivating forces to explain Freud’s angle towards amassing as a “redirection of surplus libido onto an inanimate object.” Regardless of all these negatives that the psychoanalyst attributed to those that accumulate, Freud, himself, was a collector of Greek vases, Chinese language artwork, and extra.

Transient Historical past: Muensterberger

Werner Muensterberger (1913–2011), a psychoanalyst and creator of Accumulating: An Unruly Ardour (1994), additionally instructed that the premise of amassing stems from childhood trauma (i.e., nervousness associated to separation from one’s mom). On the premise of his sufferers, he wrote, “They wish to pose or make a spectacle of their possessions. However one quickly realizes that these possessions, no matter their worth or significance are however stand-ins for themselves. And, whereas they use their objects for internal safety and outer applause, their deep internal perform is to display screen off self-doubt and unassimilated reminiscences.” Diabolically, like Freud, Muensterberger was additionally a collector. He was enamored with African artwork.

Placing Freud and Muensterberger in Perspective

Although the theories of the 2 males sound intriguing, even titillating, they’ve little, if something, to do with the explanations collectors accumulate. Neither earlier creator had the advantage of present scientific data that we do immediately. Utilizing new instruments, we now know that the drive to gather is rooted in our neurobiology. That is the place the trendy story of why collectors accumulate begins—and the place my e-book and my Psychology At present article start their tales as nicely.

The Current

I believe neurology and psychiatry are nicely past Freud and Muensterberger. In different phrases, amassing will not be completely about compensating for earlier disappointment by offering misleading consolation. Somewhat, it’s about enriching life in an actual manner that has enduring advantages.


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