What is syllogomania, the disease from which Stéphane Bern suffers?

What is syllogomania, the disease from which Stéphane Bern suffers?
LILLE, FRANCE - MARCH 22: Stephane Bern attends the photocall before holding during the Series Mania Festival - Day 5 on March 22, 2022 in Lille, France.  (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

Stéphane Bern suffers from a little-known disease called syllogomania. (Photo by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

At the controls of the program “The favorite village of the French”, this Wednesday, June 29, 2022, Stéphane Bern is one of the cult faces of the small French screen. Always dressed to the nines in front of the camera, he hides a disorder that has caused his interior to become a real shambles: syllogomania.

“I have syllogomania: I keep everything and throw nothing away.” This is what confided Stephane Bern at Paris Match in 2020, evoking for the first time a disorder from which he has suffered since his adolescence and which pushes him to accumulate all kinds of objects compulsively, without the slightest control. It is not a fad, but a real pathology that can represent a real handicap in terms of daily life, but also in social life. And which obviously has an impact on the life of the heritage enthusiast.

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What is syllogomania?

According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, “People with syllogomania (pathological hoarding) always have such difficulty throwing away or parting with their possessions that objects accumulate and clutter living spaces to the point of making them unlivable. Unlike the collector, the syllogomaniac accumulates things in a disorganized way and has difficulty parting with objects of little value.” The publication states that “symptoms of hoarding often appear during adolescence. The disorder may be mild at first, but can gradually worsen over the years, creating significant problems when the person reaches the middle thirties.” And this pathology is not so rare, since it affects 2 to 3 people out of 100, and as many men as women.

Specifically, people who suffer from hoarding feel a real need to acquire and keep objects, and suffer from having to part with them, or even just thinking about parting with them. The disease becomes disabling when living spaces become so crowded that they can no longer be used. Therefore, the disorder is generally accompanied by a feeling of shame: the syllogomaniac refuses to let anyone into his home, which can cause isolation. All without mentioning the health risks, since the accumulation of objects of all kinds promotes the development of parasites and bacteria, while preventing cleaning.

Stéphane Bern, syllogomaniac and collector

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, hoarding can be treated with antidepressants and behavioral and cognitive therapy, but Stéphane Bern did not want to specify if he was undergoing treatment, or even if he had been officially diagnosed by a professional. Still, he seems to have found a way to channel his confusion through his passion for works of art: “As soon as I can, I stop at antique shops or flea markets. I rarely leave my hands empty because I have the feeling of finding there each time a small piece of heritage, telling myself that it falls into good hands. It enchants life to be surrounded by antiques!”, he told Paris Match, before mentioning the financial investment that this represented: “I love court portraits. The problem is that when the price rises too high, I let go, it makes me furious.”

At the same time, he also keeps all kinds of heterogeneous objects: “I secretly collect old Delacre biscuit boxes. Those featuring the royal families, in particular the Belgian royal family. I have about fifteen of them.” But the consequences on his place of life and work are not minimal: “My office is in a total mess, it’s full of life, but we don’t know where to walk anymore!”, He concedes. Not necessarily practical, therefore.

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