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Bibliomania: the uncontrollable accumulation of books

Bibliomania: the uncontrollable accumulation of books

March 25, 2023

Most of the books are designed to be attractive. Not only do they have covers that explain in the most suggestive way possible what can be found among their pages, but the spine, the cover image and often the title express the intention to attract attention quickly.

The bibliomania It can be understood as one of the most extreme consequences of this, since the person who experiences this phenomenon is strongly attracted to books in physical format. However, it is much more than this.

What is bibliomania?

Bibliomania is the tendency to acquire and accumulate books in a compulsive and uncontrolled way .

It is not considered a mental disorder and in fact it does not appear in the DSM-5 diagnostic manuals, but it can be understood as a symptom related to the accumulation disorder and the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Further, neither should it be confused with bibliofilia , which is simply love for books in an abstract sense.

Thus, bibliomania can be used to refer precisely to the way in which a mental disorder is expressed when the accumulation of books produces problems that damage the quality of life of the person, either due to serious lack of space at home, the constant appearance of new debts, lack of social life, problems with hygiene due to excess dust, etc.

How to recognize that there is a problem of accumulation?

The accumulation of books is not in itself a bad thing. As almost always happens with the symptoms of mental disorders, Whether or not a bibliomania is a problem depends on a matter of degree : the intensity with which one buys compulsively, the space left free to move around the house, the hygiene conditions of the home, the way in which accumulating books has an impact on social life, etc.

In addition, we must also take into account the way in which all the above is related to the purchasing power of the person; It is not the same to reserve 3 rooms to accumulate hundreds of books if you live with a subsistence income that is upper class.

Non-pathological cases

Since bibliomania is not a consensus diagnostic category nor is it widely used in the clinical field, this word is occasionally used to refer in an ironic or humorous tone to the tastes of some "intellectual sybarites" that accumulate large amounts of books that will not be able to read, among other things, for the desire to pretend.

This kind of benign bibliomania is also a way of offering a positive image of oneself. The fact of having large walls full of shelves with books can come to produce admiration both for being a reliable bet as a form of decoration and for externalizing the curiosities and literary and intellectual interests of those who own them.

On the other hand, maintaining an extensive and careful collection of books is a demonstration of one's own criteria and refined tastes as long as no type of literary works is accumulated and a filter is maintained.

Also, make ostentation of very expensive or rare books, such as unique editions, defective copies or incunabula it is also a form of class differentiation , so the bibliomania can be based on the will to legitimize a certain degree of authority over others.

Hiding books uncontrollably

Although for a long time the image of the buyer has been that of a person who makes purely rational decisions taking into account the costs and benefits of acquiring something, this idea has been in crisis for a long time.

We now know that after the purchase of a product tend to influence processes based entirely on emotions, even if they are disguised as rationality. For example, something as simple as the color of a box or packaging can cause a certain product to sell more or less.

In the case of bibliomania, the motivation behind the accumulation of books also escapes conventional logic . That is why this phenomenon is considered a symptom that can appear in certain disorders and that often escapes the control of the person: first occurs the acquisition and storage of the book and then appear the "excuses" created to justify before one same what has been done.

  • Related article: "Neuromarketing: your brain knows what it wants to buy"

Its causes

Regarding the causes of bibliomania, depend on the type of mental disorder with which it is associated in each case , and even knowing this factor is not completely known what kind of mental mechanisms are those that produce this symptom.

With regard to non-pathological bibliomania, being a very abstract concept there can be many reasons: from the belief that you will have time to read everything (in the case of people who are very curious about many issues or that they greatly appreciate the habit of reading for leisure purposes) to the narcissistic interest for displaying intellectual goods, going through the simple decorative desire.

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