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Researchers Find Clues to 'Pack-Rat' Urge
WebMD Medical News ^ | Dec. 17, 2004 | Miranda Hitti

Posted on 12/18/2004 7:05:24 AM PST by MississippiMasterpiece

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My problem is books...I've been collecting them for almost 20 years...I have thousands and thousands in my home...stacked in closets...boxed under beds...My name is MississippiMasterpiece and I am a bookaholic.
1 posted on 12/18/2004 7:05:24 AM PST by MississippiMasterpiece
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

And obviously brain damaged! LOL!


2 posted on 12/18/2004 7:08:22 AM PST by EEDUDE (Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

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.


3 posted on 12/18/2004 7:08:51 AM PST by Galtoid
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

Oh, thank God! But can it be eventually cured?


4 posted on 12/18/2004 7:09:46 AM PST by xJones
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
Since it is 'books' you collect; you are exempt from 'rat' status ;^)

Did you say thousands?

5 posted on 12/18/2004 7:11:04 AM PST by cricket (I)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

Well if the workshop, garage, and shed aren't soon cleaned out, there is going to be even more brain damage around here!


6 posted on 12/18/2004 7:12:07 AM PST by JudyinCanada (Five-fingered Canadian)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece; B4Ranch
My name is MississippiMasterpiece and I am a bookaholic.

I can't think of a better addiction!

7 posted on 12/18/2004 7:12:54 AM PST by risk
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

I collect scientific reasearch articles...

and you have just made my problem worse!
[/sarcasm]


8 posted on 12/18/2004 7:13:34 AM PST by melbell (groovy)
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To: cricket

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.


9 posted on 12/18/2004 7:15:30 AM PST by MississippiMasterpiece
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

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.


10 posted on 12/18/2004 7:25:55 AM PST by KateatRFM
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
"My name is MississippiMasterpiece and I am a bookaholic."

Ditto. But, I collect most anything...most in my family do.

11 posted on 12/18/2004 7:33:33 AM PST by blam
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
This is not as harmless an obsession as you'd think. I have a colleague who comes from a whole family of pack rats. His house caught fire a few years ago, and he was forced to move. He literally had to buy a farm with outbuildings to contain all the junk he'd accumulated over the years. I'm talking about boxes and boxes of rusty and rotten construction scraps, broken machinery, and stuff like boxes for toys he'd bought his kids for Christmas 20 years ago. Hauling all that crap cost him a small fortune -- the outbuildings weren't big enough so he ended up buying half a dozen old semi trailers -- and took forever. To make matters worse, his dad is even more of a pack rat than he is, and has had more than 80 years to accumulate junk.

He is so weighed down by his "possessions" that they own him, not vice versa.

12 posted on 12/18/2004 7:34:20 AM PST by IronJack
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

Finally, I know what's wrong with my wife! I always felt like it was brain damage, now I know!


13 posted on 12/18/2004 7:35:28 AM PST by liberateUS
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To: blam

"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!


14 posted on 12/18/2004 7:41:52 AM PST by spoiler2
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To: JudyinCanada
"Well if the workshop, garage, and shed aren't soon cleaned out, there is going to be even more brain damage around here!"

and Re: Your tagline.....

Yeah, but is your hand prehensile?


15 posted on 12/18/2004 7:59:47 AM PST by El Gran Salseron (My wife just won the "Inmate of the Month Award!" :-))
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To: JudyinCanada

Honey? Is that you?


16 posted on 12/18/2004 8:03:55 AM PST by OSHA (OSHA, the Grand Wizard and Chief Executive Fascist of FreeperWorld- Industries LLC)
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To: liberateUS

..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....


17 posted on 12/18/2004 8:05:16 AM PST by FreeManWhoCan ("You're a better man than I Gunga Din.")
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
Of my collection, probably 2,000 or so are first editions in "as new" condition signed by the authors.

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.

18 posted on 12/18/2004 8:06:04 AM PST by angkor
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
I confess:

Classical music CDs

Science fiction books

Hand-made Cigars.

:-)
19 posted on 12/18/2004 8:07:54 AM PST by cgbg (A new song for the Dummies--Brain Dead in O-hi-o.)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

I'm glad I found this thread. I collect articles on why people collect things ...


20 posted on 12/18/2004 8:10:09 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (The fourth estate is a fifth column.)
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To: angkor

Sweeet...those are some nice titles...wish I would have known you...I would definitely have wanted in on the bidding.


21 posted on 12/18/2004 8:10:55 AM PST by MississippiMasterpiece
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To: IronJack
This is not as harmless an obsession as you'd think.

Yeah, I saw a documentary on a packratter not too long ago, probably on Discovery channel.

The guy was clearly in the grips of an illness. He had rental storage full of the most useless imaginable junk, like 10 golf bags, boxes full of electronics gear (transistors, etc). And two more outbuildings in the back yard.

After his wife threatened divorce, the guy got psychological help. They'd dispose of one or two items at a time. But then he'd go back to the dumpster and take it back.

Very creepy.

22 posted on 12/18/2004 8:11:50 AM PST by angkor
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To: IronJack

Thanks for a thoughtful post. We tend to think of these people as slobs but it is not always the truth. It seems that some sincerely want to get over this but can't. It is a compulsive disorder.


23 posted on 12/18/2004 8:13:01 AM PST by Zechariah11
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
Trained scientists ought to know better than to jump to these ridiculous conclusions. Just because a particular area of the brain lights up when stimulated in a certain way is no sign that there's a causative relationship between it and the behavior. Obviously every conscious action has to be processed somewhere in the brain!
24 posted on 12/18/2004 8:16:09 AM PST by Mr Ramsbotham (Laws against sodomy are honored in the breech.)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
Note to self:
I must quit collecting lug nuts from '57 chevrolets.
25 posted on 12/18/2004 8:16:54 AM PST by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
Mother, is that you?

No, you live in Mississippi.

26 posted on 12/18/2004 8:21:43 AM PST by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch (THANK YOU LORD -- John Kerry is still just a senator.)
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Often, thoughts of collecting girlfriends has crossed my mind...

However, thoughts of selective dismembership has prevented me from acting on the impulse.


27 posted on 12/18/2004 8:28:03 AM PST by Petruchio (<===Looks Sexy in a flightsuit . . . Looks Silly in a french maid outfit)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

I watch the animal cop shows and am always stunned at the dog and/or cat collectors (with attendant filth).

My Mom was a garage saler -- After she died, my sister and I were amazed at the amount of "stuff" that her tiny house and garage could hold.

My sister may have the disease. I don't - Less is more.


28 posted on 12/18/2004 8:28:55 AM PST by berkeleybeej (Live Free or Diebold)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

One of the Keroucs was On The Road, found in a prison book sale in NH. They were purging the library, had boxes and boxes of books on the side of the road for $1.00 each.

Took months to determine whether it was the true first, Viking was a bit strange with the markings. Finally got definitive confirmation. Unfortunately, only in "good" condition with no wrappers.

Had most of Tom Wolfe (a signed Bauhaus To Our House), and most of the A. Huxley novels (a signed Island and a limited/numbered/signed Point Counter Point). The Leary stuff I mostly bought from Michael Horowitz in Petaluma, CA ... Winona Ryder's father! It was a while ago, but I think he's still selling collectible books.


29 posted on 12/18/2004 8:34:22 AM PST by angkor
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

Guilty.


30 posted on 12/18/2004 8:38:49 AM PST by Rebelbase (Who is General Chat?)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

I used to collect books but I reached an overload point where I decided to keep only the ones I would actually read again. Now I read a book and immediately pass it on or donate it. I started purging "stuff" I collected after moving a couple of times and now I do it on a regular basis.

I still have "pack-rat" tendencies (inherited from my father who collected antiques and historical memorabilia) but I like my space too much and can't stand the knick-knacks that many women like to hoard.


31 posted on 12/18/2004 8:40:14 AM PST by arasina (So there.)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

Me too! My husband estimates that I have around 35,000 books. My collection is mainly nonfiction. My excuse is that as a teacher and writer I need the books. But the truth is I simply love books, especially old ones.


32 posted on 12/18/2004 8:41:16 AM PST by Irish Queen
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
I have a book collection that I value in the thousands. I asked State Farm if they would insure it for me, and it said no. Why? Because of the potential for fraud.

My name is 1rudeboy and I am a bookaholic.

33 posted on 12/18/2004 8:42:05 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: Zechariah11
It is a compulsive disorder.

In this guy's case, it truly is. He used to look forward to garbage day so he could drive around looking for stuff people had set out on the curb. He'd come in with stories about how he'd snagged some broken kid's toy or busted TV stand and be proud as a peacock.

I think a lot of that mentality started during the Depression, when "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" was the guiding principle. A lot of people who lived through that or were influenced by it just cannot accept that we're living in a time of plenty.

Some of the worst are farmers. If you drive by a farm and don't see at least one junked car and a rusting collection of worn-out machinery, then it's a cinch the guy hasn't been farming long.

34 posted on 12/18/2004 8:42:58 AM PST by IronJack
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To: angkor
I collect copies of P.D. Ouspensky's, The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin . . . mostly to hand-out as gifts. The book itself was out-of-print until just recently, and my friends used to joke about how I was trying to corner the world market. (I always have maybe 3-4 copies in stock).

One day, I found a hardcover copy in stock at a used bookstore in the UK (on the internet). All the previous copies I had ever seen were paperback (Penguin?--yuck). Needless to say, I jumped on it . . . and opened the package to discover that someone had sent their Penguin to a binder and had it bound. The book itself is now in my permanent collection.

I was out maybe $15-20 bucks, but I learned that someone out there felt the way I do about this novel. Strange life.

35 posted on 12/18/2004 8:51:12 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
Never let it be said that capitalism doesn't have an answer for every human ailment. While Coast-to Coast (formerly Art Bell) serves schizophrenics, eBay serves collectors.

Muleteam1

36 posted on 12/18/2004 8:52:30 AM PST by Muleteam1
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To: IronJack
I think the Depression may have made people more prudent about "making do," but this isn't like that.

I think the article does a good job of explaining it as a dementia.

. . . Damage in that brain area may make people lose control over their collecting. . . "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.

What is really sad is when you see people who are aware of their illness, try to break it, but keep coming back to it -- losing family and friends along the way.

37 posted on 12/18/2004 8:59:29 AM PST by Zechariah11
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

The article reminds me of that guy in nyc who had an apartment filled with stacks and piles of newspapers and magazines (probably some books in there, too). I think some stacks fell over on him and he was trapped for a couple of days. I believe he lived (but had to clean the place out). He might have had some paper cuts.


38 posted on 12/18/2004 9:01:43 AM PST by searchandrecovery (This space intentionally left blank.)
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To: 1rudeboy
P.D. Ouspensky

I could never understand that guy, or his mentor Gurdjieff, although I did give them a try.

39 posted on 12/18/2004 9:06:14 AM PST by angkor
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To: El Gran Salseron

LOL

Yes, it is, but I'm not cleaning out that massive pile of JUNK!

Actually, every chance I get I slip a few things into the garbage. That is dangerous though, because it is so hard to tell the difference between the junk and the "good" stuff.

And often it is just retrieved from the trash.


40 posted on 12/18/2004 9:12:36 AM PST by JudyinCanada (Five-fingered Canadian)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
I worked with a guy who collected Netsukes. mint sets, rare coins and other uncatalogued items; his ins. agt. wanted him to inventory them and he refused allowing as it was too much trouble.

He came in and retired one morning with no warning and everyone at work wondered if he had simply wandered off to die.

41 posted on 12/18/2004 9:12:39 AM PST by Old Professer (The accidental trumps the purposeful in every endeavor attended by the incompetent.)
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To: OSHA

Yes it is. Now get busy and there will be big rewards in it for you.


42 posted on 12/18/2004 9:14:01 AM PST by JudyinCanada (Five-fingered Canadian)
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To: searchandrecovery

As a foil to this discussion, one of my former girlfriends had a whacky New England auntie who was a "packratter" of a kind. Lived in a Rhode Island farmhouse, and became a bit of a recluse except for the local neer-do-well who served as her gardener/handyman/delivery boy in her twilight years.

When she passed away, they found the house was crammed to the rafters with antique New England furniture, paintings, knick knacks, etc. "Junk". The assessed value was several million dollars, and the neer-do-well and the family fought over the estate for years (she'd left two separate conflicting wills).


43 posted on 12/18/2004 9:15:44 AM PST by angkor
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To: MississippiMasterpiece

LOL.

Have had to reform. Hauling bags back and forth across the Pacific is very limiting on limited income! Giving yet another round of books to the church.


44 posted on 12/18/2004 9:20:20 AM PST by Quix (5having a form of godliness but denying its power. I TIM 3:5)
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To: angkor

"Packratters can't even let go of a coffee can full of used pencils or an 8-track cassette player."

Right, that's a good definition. It really is a disease. I have a VERY hard time throwing anything away, just because I don't want it any more. If it's broken I can toss it easily. Plastic is the bane of my existance, it almost NEVER breaks. Every few years I will force myself to throw out the big stack of hard plastic drink cups that has grown in my kitchen cabinet. I really wish we still lived in a more bio-degradable world.


45 posted on 12/18/2004 9:23:06 AM PST by jocon307 (Jihad is world wide. Jihad is serious business. We ignore global jihad at our peril.)
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To: jocon307

There is no excuse.

If you haven't used in the last year, to the trash can it goes.

I have an elderly packratter relative who sends/distributes the ephemera of a lifetime in dribbles to the whole family.

It's ruthless, I suppose, but after a five second review I decide whether it goes on a shelf or in the trash. 90 percent goes to the dump, and I think of it as a favor to the packratter relative who can't do it himself.


46 posted on 12/18/2004 9:34:11 AM PST by angkor
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To: angkor

Good story.


47 posted on 12/18/2004 9:41:16 AM PST by searchandrecovery (This space intentionally left blank.)
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To: JudyinCanada
Yes Dear.

*Begins rearranging piles of stuff so they look smaller.*

48 posted on 12/18/2004 9:51:10 AM PST by OSHA (OSHA, the Grand Wizard and Chief Executive Fascist of FreeperWorld- Industries LLC)
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To: MississippiMasterpiece
I read this and immediately discarded my collection of matchboxes filled with pieces of string too short to use.

Seriously, though, I've have an old British motorcycle for a long time, and over the years I've made changes for convenience and comfort, like adding turn signals (safety) and raising the handlebars. It was a "cafe racer" and with the short handlebars it was like riding a jackhammer.

As is, I can probably get around $6,000 - $7,000 for it; but the other day I was told that it would be worth in excess of $30,000 in original condition! However, the box where I kept the original parts has long since been lost or thrown away.

49 posted on 12/18/2004 9:51:39 AM PST by Marauder (Merry Christmas, ACLU, and may God have mercy on you.)
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To: Marauder
an old British motorcycle

BSA, Triumph, Norton?

Vincent?

Have you checked the online Brit bike shops that are here in the U.S.A.?

50 posted on 12/18/2004 9:56:31 AM PST by angkor
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