Monday, August 09, 2010


Psycho-therapist Donna Burstyn posts:

Lately I’ve been working with more clutterers and hoarders.

I want to share some of my experiences.

One of the people I work with is an heir to a land fortune.

Three generations ago his grandparents arrived to this country. When they died they left their fortune to his father and when his father passed away, he left the inheritance to my client.

My patient collects coins, stamps, and pins. He spends anywhere from $3800 to $10,000 a month buying these items.

He receives more packages than he can open. His home is cluttered from top to bottom with boxes, most still sealed, that have valuables inside. At any one time, around $500,000 worth of collectibles are inside his home.

At our first meeting, we discussed the reason he kept as much as he did. I am used to hearing the normal responses of nostalgia and security. For this man, he not only enjoyed the collection process and completing sets of things, he also thought this was a way to make future investments. I was stuck. He was investing and trying to be responsible and he was doing it in a way that kept him enclosed in his home.

He thought that if he had a larger home, he could display his collections. In his present home, it was too small for what he had to show.

I told him that if he stopped collecting so much each month, he could easily afford to get a much bigger place but he couldn’t think that way. He was frozen into believing that he had to buy this certain amount every month to keep his money coming.

Collectors and gatherers and clutterers have a special place in my heart. They’re usually sentimental and nostalgic and very tender-hearted people. I value my work with this community. I am grateful that they let me in to help them sort and to unclutter their homes which are in essence their hearts and to create space for something to happen.