1. Most of us have more things than we need and use. At times they pile up in corners and closets accumulate, in the recesses of attics, basements garages. But we sort through our clutter periodical and clean it up, saving only what we really need and giving away or throwing out the excess. This isn’t case, unfortunately, with people we call “pack rats” those who collect, save or hoard insatiably, often with only the vague rationale that the items may someday be useful. And because they rarely winnow what they save it grows and grows.

2. While some pack rats specialize in what they collect, others seem to save indiscriminately. And what they keep, such as junk mail, supermarket receipts, newspapers, business memos, empty cans, clothes or old Christmas and birthday cards, often seem to be worthless. Even when items have some value, such as lumber scraps, fabric remnants, auto parts, shoes and plastic meat trays, they tend to be kept in huge quantities that no one could use in a lifetime.

3. Although pack rats collect, they are different from collectors, who save in a systematic way. Collectors usually specialize in one of a few CLASSes of objects, which they organize, display and even catalogue. But pack rats tend to stockpile. Their possessions haphazardly and seldom use them.

4. Our interest in pack rats was sparked by a combination of personal experience with some older relatives and recognition of similar saving patterns in some younger clients one of us saw in therapy sessions. Until then, we, like most people, assumed that pack rats were all older people who had lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s — eccentrics who were stockpiling stuff just in case another Depression came along. We were surprised to discover a younger generation of pack rats, born long after the 1930s.

5. None of these clients identified themselves during therapy as pack rats or indicated that their hoarding tendencies were causing problems in any way. Only after their partners told us how annoyed and angry they were about the pack rats unwillingness to clean up the growing mess at home did they acknowledge their behavior. Even then, they defended it and had little interest in changing. The real problem, they implied, was their partner’s intolerance rather than their own hoarding.
6. Like most people, we had viewed excessive saving as a rare and harmless eccentricity. But when we discussed our initial observations with others, we gradually came to realize that almost everyone we met either admitted to some strong pack-rat tendencies or seemed to know someone who had them. Perhaps the greatest surprise, however, was how eager people were to discuss their own pack-rat experiences. Although our observations are admittedly based on a small sample, we now believe that such behavior is common and that, particularly when it is extreme, it may create problems for the pack rats or those close to them.

7. When we turned to the psychological literature, we found surprisingly little about human collecting or hoarding in general and almost nothing about pack-rat behavior. Psychoanalyses view hoarding as one characteristic of the “anal” character, type, first described by Freud. Erich Fromm later identified the “hoarding orientation” as one of the four basic ways in which people may adjust unproductively to life 共4頁,當前第1頁1234※本文作者:未知※

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