Since the beginnings of prehistory as an academic subject in Germanophone countries in the late 19th century, a mostly unreflected, firmly positivist epistemology has been the foundation of our practice. This approach operates on the assumption that detailed observations of data, combined by inductive reasoning, will provide proof positive of ‘how the past actually was’. A necessary preconditions for this is the completeness of observations. From this, it necessarily follows that every archaeological object is an infinitely valuable treasure that must be conserved forever. Only this can guarantee that observations remain repeatable. Industrial hoarding of material culture thus is a necessary consequence of our epistemological approach, as is our approach to the public: archaeology must be protected from, rather than made accessible to the public. This paper demonstrates that archaeological collecting practices resulting from this approach cause suffering within the discipline, damage to the objects we try to maintain ‘in perpetuity’, and define our interaction with the public. It exhibits all diagnostic criteria of compulsive hoarding, a serious social functionality disorder: archaeology is, quite literally, sick and in urgent need of therapy if it is to fulfil its purpose to benefit the public.