Tuesday, December 16, 2003

My first attempt to trace Tim Kassar (see previous entry) found a page about self-storage units by Victoria Clayton in The States - about people hoarding, and being unable to let go of their possessions - with some passing references to 'collectors' that may be relevant to my involvement with the 'autograph world'.

"Some say the self-storage boom parallels the widespread erosion of our sense of well-being. “When people are under stress and trauma, at least in our culture, the last thing they want to do is get rid of their stuff,” says Tim Kassar, an associate professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and author of “The High Price of Materialism (MIT Press, 2002). “their stuff provides that sort of security blanket and also a sense of identity, for better or worse. Mostly for worse, from my viewpoint.”

Kassar and other researchers have found that there are four basic psychological needs we must satisfy in order to be happy, and they have little to do with anything that can be pasted down or warehoused in a 10-by-10 storage unit: security, community, competence and free will. He compares America’s bloated self-storage facilities to the alarming epidemic of obesity.

“The food pyramid says, basically, you need to eat a lot of grains and fruits and vegetables, and that you should use fats and oils sparingly,” Kassar says. “Really, what we most need to value and concentrate on in our lives is growing as people, feeling connected to other people, feeling connected to our community. Those are the grains and fruits and vegetables of life in terms of providing us with health.” Just as the supersized American diet has left many of us chronically overweight, he says, materialism has led us to that moment of clarity when we realize, perhaps too late, that we’re uncomfortably full."

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