If we were to believe Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology and psychoanalysis, then our desire to collect is the fault of our parents (more information at the end of this post).  Sure Freud’s findings were based on his observations and introspection, but still it gives us an excuse – it’s some one else’s fault.

We might consider collecting to be a modern thing, and certainly there is something out there for most people to spend their money on, but really I believe it depends on three conditions, spare money, spare time, and self control.  Certainly since recovering from the end of Second World War there has been an increase in the first two for many people, however there are plenty of examples in museums of collections created by people from the upper echelons, and indeed some of those museums and art galleries actually started as a way of displaying the contents.

Control is where many of us fail or part fail.  After all many of the people reading this, like me, will have more pens than they can use.  I’ve noticed a number of different categories we fall in to:

  • Those who exhibit little or no self control and get caught up in the moment on seeing a new and interesting pen.
  • Those who have partial control and do limit their purchasing, but are still dangerous/in danger at pen shows, or when browsing on line sales – I consider myself  to be part of this group.
  • Those who have tight control and will often sell pens before buying more and manage to limit the size of their collection (though some times they have to reign themselves in).
  • Those who have tight control and only own a few pens, though those may change over time.
  • Those who to tend to bounce between different hobbies, none lasting more than a year or two, and tend to be large scale purchasers at the start.

I think it can be hard to identify where you fall in to the above, or even if there is another grouping I have missed, after all this is just a list I have compiled by observations made at pen clubs and of friends (several of whom I would class as archetypal otaku).  I’ve also ignored those who effectively are traders and just target pens they think they can resell for a profit.

So question, what do you think of your own self control, your collection size, your buying habits.  Do you have collections other than pens (he writes as glancing across to a shelf full of RPG games by Fantatsy Games Unlimited (1975-1991), many of which have never been, and never will be played).

Freud on collecting.  First off I would like to point out that much of what Sigmund Freud identified has either been debunked or corrected.  Additionally I’m certain there is still probably an argument going on about nature v nurture with respect to this topic.  I’ve barely touched Psychology for over 30 years, though if you want an understanding on how to create presentations and why certain tricks work, then I’m your man for a suitable pen or two …).

Freud basically said that the human desire to collect came from potty training.  When parents start to encourage a baby/young kid to use a potty, rather than a nappy, the old techniques (no clue if this is still the case as I do not have kids of my own) were to reward and congratulate the child for showing they had used the potty.  This positive stimulus to collecting faeces becomes imprinted on our minds and as we mature we find we gain pleasure from collecting other things – back in Freud’s days it would have been books, butterflies, ceramics, paintings, music scores, etc.

Net result – we enjoy collecting because as young kids our parents rewarded/complimented us for doing so, ergo, our large pen collections are all their fault ….