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My other half’s pencil eraser collection is taking over the house. Please help me to understand him. © Dan Bright

My other half’s pencil eraser collection is taking over the house. Please help me to understand him.

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Collecting unusual objects is more common than you think…*said whilst looking at my collection of crisps shaped like famous people*

Collecting unusual objects is more widespread than you might think, and there can be various psychological factors at play. For starters, we have an evolved tendency to accumulate resources, and whereas this used to be food or tools for survival or status, today it manifests in more idiosyncratic ways – such as erasers.

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Your partner’s collection might be akin to an adult ‘comfort blanket’ – while all around is in constant change, the collector retains complete control over their growing collection. A collection can build up over years or even decades, and this seeming permanence can also provide consolation against existential anxieties. In fact, many collectors will make careful plans for what happens to their collection after they die.

The focus of your partner’s collection might strike you as strange, but erasers make an appealing item. They’re small, cheap, come in infinite forms, are multisensory (I’ll bet he has some scented erasers) and can be imbued with memories from the collector’s childhood, for instance.

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Authors

Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.

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