In our second case study of "forced collectionism" caused by an acquired injury to the orbitofrontal cortex, a 49 year old man started collecting an unwieldy number of televisions and other household appliances (Volle et al., 2002):
A 40-year-old-man underwent surgical resection of an olfactory meningioma in 1988. He remained disease free until 1993, when the tumor recurred. He underwent surgery again in 1995. The postoperative CT scan showed two large porencephalic frontal defects with no tumor residue.The pathologic collecting behavior was first noticed in 1997, when he began searching out domestic appliances such as television sets, telephones, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, or videocassette recorders. He developed logical and efficient strategies to get what he wanted. Twice a month, he roamed the town and brought appliances, mainly television sets, back home. He stocked them first in his living room, but when 35 television sets were stored there, he placed additional televisions in his daughter’s bedroom, then in the corridors, in the bathroom, and in his three cellars. In the end, when there was no empty space left in the cellars, he put them in ventilation shafts.Unlike the collector of toy bullets from our first case study, the television man did not show significant impairments in memory and executive functions. In contrast, he showed a great deal of inertia in his everyday life (except when it came to collecting TVs). Notably, he was missing an enormous chunk of his frontal lobes bilaterally, as illustrated in the figure below.
Figure 1 (Volle et al., 2002). (A) T1-weighted sagittal MRI showing the postoperative prefrontal cavity. (B) Three-dimensional reconstruction of the bilateral cortical (dark) and subcortical (gray) frontopolar defect.
On the left, the lesion extended over the anterior two-thirds of the superior frontal gyrus and the anterior third of the medial frontal gyrus. On the right, the lesion involved the anterior third of the superior frontal gyrus and a larger part of the medial frontal gyrus. A PET scan revealed bilateral orbitofrontal hypometabolism.Although these unusual case reports do appear in the neurological literature, compulsive hoarding or collecting is much more common in psychiatric settings, as a disorder that may occur as a symptom of OCD (or as a separate diagnosis).
Volle E, Beato R, Levy R, Dubois B. (2002). Forced collectionism after orbitofrontal damage. Neurology, 58(3), 488-490.
Sites for the discriminating voluntary collector of vintage television sets:
The David Boynes Collection - A site about the preservation of vintage TVs and radios
Andy Valve's Website - A site dedicated to the restoration of old electrical and electronic technology
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