Is collecting a disease? Answer of a psychiatrist


Illustration Arnaud Tracol

You pile the knickknacks, dream of the painting that escaped you, run flea markets? In short, you are obsessed! Is it serious, doctor? Reply with Francis Hofstein, "psy", analyst and ... collector.

Who collects?

Francis Hofstein: We accumulate, all, stuff, ballpoint pens in drawers, plastic bags, pairs of shoes ... Now we go to collect the "friends" on Facebook: virtual of course, but the more they are numerous , the more you feel reassured ...

How do you explain it?

Francis Hofstein: It is related to the relationship that the child has with objects. It does not make the difference between the "me" and the world, which is part of itself. When he realizes - towards three-four years - that he can not quite appropriate himself, he settles a lack that he can never completely fill.

It does not explain that a collector focuses on an exclusive theme. Tell us your passion for jazz ...

Francis Hofstein: I met a music. Jazz: 1945, American soldiers, freedom, I was eight years old, my parents were laughing. Years later, listening to the radio, I recognized one of those tunes, which reminded me of a happy time, I looked for a record, then two, and so on. My curiosity aroused, I also bought books, magazines.

We come back to childhood?

Francis Hofstein: Of course. The collection protects. Like a cuddly toy, the "transitional object" would say the analyst Winnicott. It's a bridge between the chaos of the world and you. It gives meaning to life. And sometimes, it allows to pass to posterity.

For example ?

Francis Hofstein: By leaving his treasures to museums, leaving his name in an auction catalog. Recognize that without these people in search, there would be no museums! On their favorite theme, they know a thousand times more than the licensed experts. They advance the knowledge of humanity. Thanks to my documents, I have taught, published books, fed exhibitions, illustrated magazines such The Art of Jazz from the first to the last page.

Certainly. But why these innumerable trinkets that add to your records?

Francis Hofstein: When I was a child, I dreamed of a small cloth orchestra seen at a tobacconist; after many supplications, my father finally offered me the drummer, not the other musicians. As an adult, I found the figurines in Toymania, a toy room, and that's it ...

Well, here is a frustration ... The collection would be a compensation?

Francis Hofstein: Obviously. Behind any collection, there is probably an injury due to lack: love, bond, word ... what do I know? A divorce, uprooting ... A wound so buried that most people do not know it.

It seems that women are less likely to collect than men?

Francis Hofstein: The woman is aware of the fragility of her body, of aging. It does not have the same relation to time, life, death, and therefore objects.

Freud himself was a collector?

Francis Hofstein: He rationalized his passion for classical antiquities, claiming that Greek mythology inspired him in his practice of psychoanalysis. Pipe! You know, it's a frustrating job: you help people for years, who leave you, sometimes, without a thank you.

Collecting with the same rhythm for forty years?

Francis Hofstein: In reality, when I give myself to writing a book, a form of creation, I feel less the need to track objects. My collection occupies me in the most sterile periods.

Jazz, a remedy against the "blues" ...

Francis Hofstein: It's a pleasure too! The joy of hunting. The pleasure of discovery. I defend collectors: with their anguish, their silly race, their mania, they do not hurt themselves and do not hurt anyone.

Some have, however, stolen, or killed ...

Francis Hofstein: The transition to pathology is a thread. Sometimes we commit criminal acts. Who is not happy to have bought four under an object in a garage sale then that was worth four thousand?

The auction rooms exacerbate this sweet madness?

Francis Hofstein: That's the game, the competition. To win, sometimes you have to go beyond the limits.

However, once the trophy has been acquired, we often lose interest ...

Francis Hofstein: Like after love, we fall asleep! The tension falls. The lack is satisfied. Provisionally, since it is an impulse - the same that animates the seducer. It is not the object that counts, it is the conquest. We need this excitement to live.

An endless race, then?

Francis Hofstein: The essence of a collection is to be infinite. If, by chance, a set is complete - I think, in particular, the series of Dinky Toys -, their owner gets rid of it and embarks on a new search. Who has collected, will collect ...