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June 1962

The Accumulator

Author Affiliations

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York, Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1962;6(6):474-477. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1962.01710240070004

Personal Possession  An interesting aspect in the psychology of man is his relationship to inanimate objects which, in a general way, may be referred to as personal possessions. That possession often increases a person's esteem for such objects seems apparent.* For example, when Shakespeare's1 clown, Touchstone, caricatures the idea of possession and relative worth in this simple comment, "An ill favoured thing, Sir, but mine own," everyone perceives his meaning.

Symptomatic Possession  In this paper it is my intention to focus upon the significance of one type of "symptomatic" possession, a type of ownership often referred to as accumulation. I shall not consider certain culturally transmitted practices of saving which are acts of thrift among people of limited means, nor shall I consider the practice of true hoarding, which operates as a reaction formation against specific fears. Neither of these is the same as accumulation.

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