Skip to comments.Researchers Find Clues to 'Pack-Rat' Urge
Posted on 12/18/2004 7:05:24 AM PST by MississippiMasterpiece
Attention, pack rats: science may have figured you out. Researchers say they've found an area of the brain that seems to govern the urge to collect.
For most people, collecting is a perfectly healthy behavior. It's an outlet for expressing passion for just about anything, such as stamps, wine, art, shoes, or Elvis memorabilia.
Collecting is also common among animals, and not just for food. It's been observed in creatures great and small, from mammals to insects. For instance, some birds can't resist aluminum and bright objects, while hamsters gather glass beads when given the chance.
But in rare cases, collecting gets out of hand in humans. People have been known to hoard items compulsively -- not out of necessity, appreciation, or financial investment. Abnormal collecting can even disrupt normal life, causing problems for the collector and the people they live with.
Abnormal hoarding behavior following brain injury was recently studied at the University of Iowa's medical school by researchers including Steven Anderson, PhD. All 86 participants had brain lesions. Most cases occurred in adulthood. Despite their brain lesions, participants had normal brain function with normal scores on intelligence, reasoning, and memory tests.
Participants were interviewed about their collecting behavior. To ensure accuracy, the researchers also talked to a close relative of each subject (usually a spouse).
A total of 13 people were classified as "abnormal collectors." They had excessive collections of useless items that began after the brain injury occurred, and they resisted changing their hoarding habits.
The abnormal collectors had something else in common.
"A pretty clear finding jumped out at us," says Anderson, in a news release. "Damage to a part of the frontal lobes of the [brain's] cortex, particularly on the right side, was shared by the individuals with abnormal behavior."
That part of the brain may keep collecting in check. Damage in that brain area may make people lose control over their collecting.
The finding could have wider meaning, says Anderson.
"Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder and some other disorders, such as schizophrenia, Tourette's syndrome, and certain dementias can have similar pathological collecting behavior," says Anderson, in the news release.
"Our hope is that our findings
will lead to insights in these conditions, as well." The study appears in the January issue of the journal Brain.
And obviously brain damaged! LOL!
I can think of worse things than surrounding yourself with books. Why don't you just open a neighborhood library? That would be the answer.
Oh, thank God! But can it be eventually cured?
Did you say thousands?
Well if the workshop, garage, and shed aren't soon cleaned out, there is going to be even more brain damage around here!
I can't think of a better addiction!
I collect scientific reasearch articles...
and you have just made my problem worse!
Yes...It's truly thousands...and that's after ridding myself of 1,000 or so books a few years back...Of my collection, probably 2,000 or so are first editions in "as new" condition signed by the authors. My insurance company makes me carry a special rider.
I collect hockey cards. I had forgotten about the ones I collected in the late 1960s and early 1970s until my nephew pointed out that people were paying a lot of money for them. About 4 years ago I sold selected cards for enough to put a nice down payment on a 1973 Ferrari [okay, Fiat] Dino GTS.
If they do find a cure for packrattery, I refuse to be cured.
Ditto. But, I collect most anything...most in my family do.
He is so weighed down by his "possessions" that they own him, not vice versa.
Finally, I know what's wrong with my wife! I always felt like it was brain damage, now I know!
"I collect most anything...most in my family do"
This condition can spread easily in families. I know of one case where everyone in the family collects things and they constantly battle each other for space to house their overflowing collections, to the point of sometimes throwing another member's things out!
and Re: Your tagline.....
Yeah, but is your hand prehensile?
Honey? Is that you?
..Its genteic thats for sure.. 10 years ago I went to Cuba to visit relatives and ended up at my grandfather's house near the beach. One day I went strolling an brought home this really odd rock that looked like an Alien head. My aunt asked me why I picked it up and I said "just because its unique." and she says "You grandfather was the same way. He would always be picking up and collecting things.." When I got home I realized that my fathere was the same way and that I was just starting to "bloom" in my odd collecting habits. So from there on, I learned not to collect so much junk and find myslef having "conversations" with my brain regarding the reasons why I should "buy" and "not buy" items at the store....
Collecting firsts is not pack-ratting.
In one biennial book purge, I bit the bullet and sold about 100 firsts: Kerouac, T. Wolfe, T. Leary, Aldous Huxley, etc. A 60's/70's theme with some odd ducks like the mint first Brit edition of Seven Pillars Of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence (found in a used book barn, paid maybe $20.00).
It was heartwrenching, but sometimes these purges must spare nothing.
Packratters can't even let go of a coffee can full of used pencils or an 8-track cassette player.
I'm glad I found this thread. I collect articles on why people collect things ...