Aren’t we all a little bit OCD? Exploring the passion & obsession behind collections – The story of my vintage Barbie collection

Here is my brain dump for the week reflecting on the reasons behind people’s collections and why I think I am a tiny bit OCD – by this meaning a bit obsessed with one collection in particular. And of course I tell the story of my vintage Barbie collection.

Barbie collections collage

These are just a few of my dolls from my Barbie collection. They are like children… you don’t really have a favourite. You love them all.

According to NHS Choices, Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive activity. While an obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought causing feelings of anxiety, a compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that someone feels they need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought. People who like collecting aren’t necessarily all obsessive about it but they might feel compelled to collect to find some sort of pleasure in collections of things to remind them of positive memories (for example).

Not all collectors are affected by OCD but obsessions are quite common these days.  My generation of 40+ is lucky. What I mean is that we haven’t experienced war in our Western countries as opposed to our grandparents who have been actively involved in at least WW2 and provably born before WW1. I feel grateful to all those brave people who fought for the freedom and peace we enjoy today. They have created a world in which we could thrive and build wealth without the struggle for survival. My parents’ generation has done just that in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. So what’s gone wrong after that? My generation has grown up that living comfortably is the norm. We can have pretty much everything we want. We have now gone the extra mile and accumulated all sort of stuff. Most families’ houses are packed with goods (mine included!) and we all feel we have too much. Deep in my heart I would love to live in a minimalistic environment for some reason I cannot free myself from (far too) many things.

My Barbie Dolls’ collection

My Barbie dolls’ collection started from just a few vintage dolls that reminded me of my childhood and has grown to a 300+ piece collection in 10 years.

Without being a maths’ wizard, I have bought approximately 30 dolls every year – almost 3 per month – in 10 years.
I gathered them over the years from markets, car boot sales, ebay and also shops.

Barbie clothes collections

As much as I have been telling myself for a while not to buy any more, I am not sure I will stick to this promise.
The process of acquiring collectables seems to be the main drive behind every collection. The passion for bargain hunting becomes more interesting than the items themselves.

To be fair to my collection, I must admit that I love dressing up the dolls, making their clothes out of old textiles and taking a photo shoot of them all dressed up. I have even read a book called I can make dolls’ clothes (Published by Thames & Hudson) with great tips for crazy Barbie collectors like me.

I can make dolls clothes barbie collections

I still cannot say whether my passion for fashion dolls is a sign of ocd or not. I leave this to the readers of this article to judge.


I know a lady who has a passion for magnets and a huge collection. She even cleans them all individually and re-positions them according to categories on a regular basis. I suppose Magnets on the kitchen fridge – which is very prominently positioned in a woman’s life – help visualising memories of great holidays or friends. It’s a fantastic collection idea although you may need to upgrade the fridge at some point.

magnets on the fridge collections OCD

I know a lady who collects various book editions of Alice in wonderland.

Other people I know collect watches, stamps, pins, Hollywood stars’ Postcards and other quirky little items.

Aren’t we all a bit OCD?
I guess we are!
If we weren’t, we would not have any passion, so bring on collections.
Share with us photos of your collections. We would love to see them. The quirkiest the better!

And if my article has inspired you to de-clutter instead, you can read these articles from de-cluttering experts.

photo pin declutter clutter toys xmas gifts santa presents

Clutter clearing can change your life!

Tidying the Children! by professional declutterer Cassie Tillett

Agony Aunt Aneliese talks cleaning and decluttering

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