Researchers working for the Journal of Folklore Research have reached an interesting conclusion. They believe that hoards from the Bronze Age are sacrificial offerings, or attempts to preserve valuables from pillaging marauders.
However others say these valuable stashes were rituals to reduce tensions within societies. In other words, conflicting groups came together to sacrifice what they loved, in a communion of unity. Could these bizarre ideas still be relevant today?
Modern Psychology Puts a Different Spin on the Theme
Yavar Moghimi is attached to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at George Washington University, USA. He posted a research paper titled ‘The Objects of Desire: A Cultural Case Study in Hoarding’.
The Case Study: A Hoarder with a Master’s Degree
Yavar Moghimi counselled an older woman named Anita who lived in a home with shared facilities. At their first meeting she bombarded him with information to the extent he felt ‘cluttered’ himself.
However several meetings later he had grown to know her as an intelligent person with a master’s degree.
He discovered Anita felt unfulfilled as she felt she had not achieved her potential in life. She hoarded piles of newspapers, because for her they “symbolized knowledge, gentility, and being well educated”.
Her landlord forced her to throw away newspapers she had not yet read. This left her feeling she had lost information and this “reinforced her feelings of ignorance and being behind”.
Anita also had difficulty discarding old shoes. She had so many new ones yet she always wore the same pair of old ones at their meetings. When pressed to throw one pair away she trashed her most comfortable ones.
It was as if Yavar Moghimi says, she felt pressed to retain her “fancier, unworn shoes that she might wear at imagined dinner parties of the future, preferring to hold onto an idealized future, rather than her everyday experience”.
This sense of loyalty to possessions extended to food past its sell-by-date she still insisted on consuming. However she always served her guests fresh food “because of her belief that they deserve better than she does.”
Anita was between a rock and a hard place as a result of these obsessions. The person she shared a room with resented the mess. Moreover her pointless purchasing-for-hoarding distanced her from her primary goal. This was to become upwardly mobile by inviting “intelligent, professional friends over for dinner parties”.
Therefore, despite her desire to live an upper-middle class lifestyle she was barely surviving poverty, Yavar Moghimi observes.
What Psychologist Yavar Moghimi Concluded
We ascribe two sets of values to possessions in our materialistic society, according to professional researcher Marsha Richins. The public value is how they label us in terms of social standing, wealth and status, and group membership.
Whereas the private value is what the possessions mean to us as people. Another researcher, Ditmar believed “Public values of commodities play a large role in determining which objects are desired. While the private meanings (such as we have explored in Anita’s case) play a larger role in objects that are already possessed. These are valuable inputs to understanding the three aspects of hoarding, namely acquiring, cluttering, and an inability to discard. We are all somewhat like Anita in a way. We should therefore not judge her too harshly