Module 8: Problematic Collecting


This module aims to help you to explore and gain understanding of the following:

  • Why you collect
  • How it links to your offending
  • The relationship between collecting and some of the unsatisfactory aspects of your life

Download module as a PDF.

For some people, collecting – and cataloguing, organising and all the other stuff that goes with it – can seem a big part of their offending. 

If this is true for you, then keep reading this module!

Why do people collect?

There are lots of reasons why people collect things:

  • They might like the sense of order and control
  • They might like the ‘hunting’ part; tracking down something rare or ‘special’
  • They might be proud of their collection and pleased that it’s ‘better’ than other people’s
  • They might be reliving childhood experiences through collecting
  • They might feel that this activity fills a part of them that they feel is otherwise missing
  • They might feel that arranging and organising provides a safety zone; a place of refuge where fears are calmed and insecurity is managed
  • They might like the social camaraderie when sharing their collection with other collectors

Ok, but what about you? Some of the above reasons may ring true, but there may be other reasons too, especially if you are collecting sexual images of children.

Use exercise 1 to help work out why you collect.

Exercise 1: My collecting

Download printable version of this exercise >

Do you collect other things, as well as indecent images of children, for example stamps, coins or model cars? If you do, then it might be better to complete this exercise using one of those non-offending examples first. Then complete it a second time concentrating on the sexual images of children. It might be that you can compare the two and identify themes between them. This will help you later on when you are looking at what purpose collecting is serving for you. 

From the examples below, make a note of the three reasons that you most identify with.

1. I get pleasure from a sense of completion and order

2. I find great value in the rarities and hard to come by items of my collection

3. I take pride in my collection

4. I like to compare my collection with other collectors

5. I have memories of sentimental attachments to my collection

6. Any other reasons

Write a few sentences explaining why you have ticked your top three reasons.

In what way are they more important to you than the others?



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