Taxidermy dogs featuring a beloved farm dog named “Kickstart”*

The Desire to Acquire: A Psychological Profile of the Serious Collector

Online Discussion

Friday, October 22, 2021, 1:00 pm

In conjunction with The Nature of the Beast

In this event, The Nature of the Beast curator J.D. Powe embarks on an introspective journey to find psychological explanations for his own desire to acquire unique objects--as well as universal truths--while moderating a discussion between Jungian psychoanalyst Dr. Michael Vannoy Adams and Neurologist Dr. Shirley M. Mueller, who will offer research-based perspectives drawn from their experience as academics, clinicians, and collectors.

The interactive discussion will invite audience participation and explore themes such as why certain individuals appear to have a drive to collect, the distinction between collecting and hoarding, the extent to which the drive to collect may be "adaptive" in a Darwinian sense, the relationship between collecting and the perception of beauty, and whether collecting is a uniquely human pursuit.

Join us for this fascinating exploration of the human mind and come to your own conclusions about whether collecting is best understood as a harmless pursuit of pleasure or as a symptom of underlying pathology.

Michael Vannoy Adams is a Jungian analyst with a special interest in images and the imagination. Michael is currently clinical associate professor at the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, where he teaches the course "Jungian Ways of Working with Images." He was previously associate provost of the New School, where he taught dream interpretation for 30 years. During the Rubin Museum's exhibition of Jung's famous Red Book, Michael was Sarah Silverman's Jungian analyst for a dialogue about Jung's technique of active imagination. He is the author of four books.

Dr. Shirley M. Mueller, MD developed a passion for collecting Chinese porcelain in the late 1980s following a successful career in the private practice of medicine and as a tenured professor at Indiana University. Her collecting focus has become increasingly specific over time; shifting from Chinese export teapots to the fascinating subgenre of miscommunication on Chinese export porcelain. An author of more than 70 academic papers, Dr. Mueller is board certified in both neurology and psychiatry. Dr. Mueller's seminal work, Inside the Head of a Collector: Neuropsychological Forces at Play, offers unique scientific insights regarding the powerful drive to seek pleasure through the process of collecting objects of desire.

A collector of rare and antique taxidermy, author and curator JD Powe earned a B.A. in the History of Science from Harvard University. He has loaned specimens to the Morbid Anatomy Museum and the Adirondack Experience. His first book is Best Friends Forever: The World's Greatest Collection of Taxidermy Dogs (Cernunnos/Abrams 2021).

Morbid Anatomy is a project dedicated to the interstices of art and medicine, death and culture. Founded by multidisciplinary artist Joanna Ebenstein, today it is run by Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier.