Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

What possesses someone to save every scrap of paper that's ever come into his home? What compulsions drive a woman like Irene, whose hoarding cost her her marriage? Or Ralph, whose imagined uses for castoff items like leaky old buckets almost lost him his house? Randy Frost and Gail Steketee were the first to study hoarding when they began their work a decade ago; they exp...

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Title:Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things
Author:Randy O. Frost
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Edition Language:English

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things Reviews

  • karen

    oh, dear. this book was uncomfortable to read. i think i may be a hoarder, a little. not terribly badly, not yet. but the fine line between "collector" and "hoarder" is on the thin side. this is from the inside cover, and why i felt i needed to read the book:

    oh, dear. this book was uncomfortable to read. i think i may be a hoarder, a little. not terribly badly, not yet. but the fine line between "collector" and "hoarder" is on the thin side. this is from the inside cover, and why i felt i needed to read the book:

    see, that sounds like home!but maybe i'm not a hoarder, maybe i just have a small new york apartment. i won't know until my ship comes in and i move somewhere bigger... will i fill that space, too? will i be like that fat tolkien dragon lolling on my hoard of books and treasures??

    but reading this book puts it into perspective, a little. i do not hoard garbage. i do not have roaches and mice. i do not collect supermarket circulars and newspapers from ten years ago. i am able to throw away junk mail. while there are frequent book avalanches at the home, my door can still be opened, and i am able to escape if (heaven forfend) there is a fire. "Hoarding is not defined by the number of possessions, but by how the acquisition and management of those possessions affects their owner." and i'm okay, i think. i read my books, i just buy more than i will ever live long enough to read, but i

    to read them all -that's the plan, i just don't know how feasible it will be, mortality and all.

    i highly recommend this book, even if you don't have the same fears i had. it is a strong cautionary tale, and while this is a psychological disorder, the hoarding, and being aware of the extent that it can actually take over a person's life isn't going to prevent it; you either have the tendency or you don't, you may see shades of yourself in some of the case studies, and it might give you a nice whiff of fear - enough to get you to go over to that mail table and sort it once and for all. and throw away that old fancy mustard you didn't even like - you are never going to suddenly develop a taste for it.

  • Courtney

    made me clean my room. i shall call this book "mom"

  • mstan

    The fourth star is for a few things:

    - The engaging way in which the two authors present the cases they have encountered (which, frankly, would appeal to the voyeuristic in most) - young hoarders, animal hoarders, belligerent 'blind' hoarders vs. intelligent hoarders, hoarders with OCD...

    - The authors' compassion for their subjects

    - Their admission that it is indeed difficult to help hoarders (and there's no miracle therapy that would solve their issues)

    I was highly uncomfortable reading some of

    The fourth star is for a few things:

    - The engaging way in which the two authors present the cases they have encountered (which, frankly, would appeal to the voyeuristic in most) - young hoarders, animal hoarders, belligerent 'blind' hoarders vs. intelligent hoarders, hoarders with OCD...

    - The authors' compassion for their subjects

    - Their admission that it is indeed difficult to help hoarders (and there's no miracle therapy that would solve their issues)

    I was highly uncomfortable reading some of the book, because I do still have some school papers and my teaching school material (I have already been in teaching for nearly a decade... and have almost never looked at those materials)... not to mention a ton of old manga from when I was a teenager, which are surely silverfish-ridden by now, and which I have not opened in

    a decade. I think my problem is procrastination/laziness when it comes to cleaning, though, not so much hoarding (though I feel really awful about the idea of throwing out school papers... perhaps this just goes to show how my identity has been constructed around this concept of academic success???). Some of the people mentioned in this book are truly pitiful because they realise they have a problem - a problem that has damaged many of their relationships with their loved ones - but cannot bear to take apart the cocoon of stuff they've constructed to protect themselves from loss. Many of them have become public health hazards because of the number of cockroaches and mice their stuff has generated, and because their stuff may actually increase the likelihood of fire, or even trigger the collapse of the building.

    One quibble: I wish the authors had organised (irony?) some of the information a little better. Sometimes the focus of each chapter wasn't particularly clear, as previous observations are reiterated a few times, and different case studies are juxtaposed against each other across various chapters. Other than that, I thought this was an illuminating look into what is becoming a pervasive but much-misunderstood problem. Reading it has certainly made me much more uncomfortable about how hoarders' distress at having their houses cleaned out is so widely publicised (making the hoarders almost into targets of ridicule) in the show 'Hoarders'.

  • Stephanie *Extremely Stable Genius*

    I have one dog and three cats, onec at more than my limit. Any cat above two is “crazy cat women” territory (in my own circumstances) I'm hoping the presence of the dog would offset this.

    My mom thinks three cats = animal hoarder.

    She didn’t have to worry, I’m neither an animal hoarder nor a stuff hoarder but I have to admit people who are fascinate me. If I am flipping the channels and I land on the show Hoarders that is where the flipping stops, then I run around the house gathering up crap to

    I have one dog and three cats, onec at more than my limit. Any cat above two is “crazy cat women” territory (in my own circumstances) I'm hoping the presence of the dog would offset this.

    My mom thinks three cats = animal hoarder.

    She didn’t have to worry, I’m neither an animal hoarder nor a stuff hoarder but I have to admit people who are fascinate me. If I am flipping the channels and I land on the show Hoarders that is where the flipping stops, then I run around the house gathering up crap to get rid of. So when I came across the book “Stuff” I had to take a look. It had a lot of interesting “stuff” in it.

    People who hoard have an over active nesting need. This is something we all have as instinct from the way back days, but with hoarders it’s on a higher level. When hoarders were children they would show signs of their future by collecting things. Odd things. All kids collect something at certain point of their lives, comic books, Barbie dolls, sea shells. For me it was rocks…….they were pretty. But future hoarders described in this book would pick up random things like sticks and leaves. When these things were discarded by whoever cared to discard them the future hoarders would cry and throw world class fits until the item was returned. One little girl, upon walking into a store, lost some mud off the bottom of her shoe, when an employee stopped and cleaned it up, she went into hysterics and was inconsolable. That was her mud!

    Hoarders seem to me to be somewhat agoraphobic. They cocoon themselves with in their stuff and they like it. Being a bit of a claustrophobic, that would be a nightmare for me. Every bit of their belongings has meanings and memories attached to them, and for the hoarder discarding anything is like discarding an important memory itself.

    A big problem for them and one of the biggest reasons they hoard it that they see possibilities in everything. They won’t throw things out because someday the may use that item, fix it, sell it, ect. So they hang on to it, and of course it is never used.

    Random facts I found interesting.

    • Cheap stuff (think Walmart) and marketing is making us a nation of hoarders.

    • The average house size has increased 60% since 1970. Think McMansion.

    • We have twice the number of shopping centers than schools.

    • 40 years ago there was no such thing as a storage unit.

    • Today there is 2.35 billion square feet of self storage in the U.S, and 90% of it is full.

    If you abandon them, the folks from the show Storage Wars will descend.

    There are two types of people, when it comes to their relationship with their stuff. One is the “having” sort…..the owner, the materialist. He thinks life will be better if he gets the stuff he dreams of. Then there is the “being” person, enjoys life more by having experiences, going out and living life instead of accumulating things.

    I hope that I am the later.

  • Becky

    Some people hoard stuff. Some people hoard animals. I apparently hoard Currently Reading books on my Goodreads account.

    OK, that's a bit facetious because I'm not really HOARDING them - I just can't consider them "finished" until I've reviewed them, so I just keep adding more and more until I have time to write the reviews to clear the list. *sigh* Does that make me some sort of OCD? Or just weird?

    Just weird? OK then.

    Moving on... In my house, we have some strange dynamics. I am not a neat frea

    Some people hoard stuff. Some people hoard animals. I apparently hoard Currently Reading books on my Goodreads account.

    OK, that's a bit facetious because I'm not really HOARDING them - I just can't consider them "finished" until I've reviewed them, so I just keep adding more and more until I have time to write the reviews to clear the list. *sigh* Does that make me some sort of OCD? Or just weird?

    Just weird? OK then.

    Moving on... In my house, we have some strange dynamics. I am not a neat freak. My house is cluttered and lived in, and there are days (*cough* WEEKS) when I can easily walk by, around, over a pile of clothes on the floor and not care. But I have no trouble getting rid of stuff - even unread books, as shocking as that might be - if I feel that I have no more interest or use for it.

    Most of MY clutter takes the form of books and book paraphernalia and knitting and crafting stuff. I have books all over the house, and as of right now, we do have enough shelving to give all of them homes (and then some - thanks IKEA!) but there was a time when this wasn't the case, and I had stacks... everywhere. We were living in a too-small apartment, and my large book collection joined forces with my boyfriend's huge art and art supply collection... and the only thing that kept the floor from caving in below us was the anti-gravity sphere I set up in the hall.

    When I moved, I donated about 11 boxes of books to the goodwill, and still my boyfriend lugged boxes and boxes and boxes of books from the old place to the new one. He got a murderous gleam in his eye if I mentioned the word "book" around him for about 3 months afterward. Poor guy.

    The boyfriend is actually the one who likes things to be neat and organized and clean... but ironically he is also an artist and most of the shit cluttering up our house is his. HIS clutter in the house is what makes me realize that I am not a hoarder. Eleven boxes of donation books (read, unread, whatever) caused me not a twinge of anxiety... but when he had to go through and clean out, organize, pack and determine what to keep and what to trash of HIS stuff, it was a PROCESS. He had half-finished art projects from who-knows-when that were unearthed from a pile in his art room, and when I would try to throw it away, he would get a bit upset and argue that it's still useful.

    Not "hoarder" upset, but "artist" upset. I think that's a very fine line, and yet it might be an important distinction to make. I can see how it would be very easy to cross the line from an artist who uses discarded stuff and trash and unconventional materials for art supplies, to someone who likes the idea of doing that... but never actually getting to the making part, and just collects and collects and collects because it's become a compulsion.

    We eventually got through the move, and we both ended up downsizing huge portions of the crap we had accumulated while living in our old place. We were also moving to a place that was about twice the size of our old one, so our downsized stuff ended up feeling like it was only a quarter of the amount.

    And I loved it. And that made me realize that I am something of a minimalist. I liked the openness of our place without tons of crap everywhere. I could easily live with a couch, a bed and a bookshelf. (OK many bookshelves. Who's counting? Oh. Society. Right.) Of course, we've now been here for several years, and the stuff is accumulating again. Maybe we just need to move every 2 years to keep it manageable. No. Nope. Nevermind. I'll just live in the clutter.

    Anywho... This book was fascinating. I have seen the A&E show "Hoarders" and I always feel so sad for the people who have had this compulsion take over their lives - but it wasn't until this book that I really thought about what causes the hoarding tendency. From the outside, I think to many it seems like laziness. People just stop caring to clean up, and then embarrassment and guilt and anxiety and hopelessness take over and make it seem like an impossible task to change, so they just don't, and dig in for the long haul. But it's not really that simple. I think that those things that I mentioned are a big part of it, but they aren't the CAUSE. Hoarding isn't just a cleanliness thing, it's a mental illness related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

    This made me feel both a bit better and a bit worse when it came to hoarding though. Better, because it's not just an escalation from clutter and mess to wading through mounds of stuff... but also worse because mental illness is stigmatized and so hard to work through. But I loved the way that this book presented their info on hoarding, and told the stories of those that they included in the book. It was handled with understanding, compassion, and kindness, and there wasn't an ounce of judgement or nastiness to be found.

    This book presented many aspects of hoarding that I would never have thought about. Attaching significant meaning to junk, or to the hoarder, making them placeholders for memory; not wanting to waste anything; wanting the security of food or items for lean times; or just walling oneself off with piles of stuff. There are many, many internalized reasons for collecting. The show would often play up the dramatic - a man who collects stuff with the intention to resell it, but never does, and who is spending thousands of dollars to store items he won't part with and is constantly battling with his family over the hoard... or a woman who refuses to empty the ashtray her husband used the day he died decades ago because that's all she has left of him, for example - but it doesn't truly go into the rationale behind these actions. It's just scratching the surface. Perhaps by getting rid of the ashtray, the woman feels like she's throwing away her love of him. Trashing his memory, or all the years they spent together. Perhaps she felt like getting rid of the last thing she had of his was negating their entire life together... and that's something that is much deeper than just a simple "sentimental value".

    Anyway, what I'm getting at is that I found this book to be very well-researched and informative. The section on marketing and societal expectations of ownership was worth the read on its own. It shows that we as a society tend more toward acquiring more and more stuff than we do toward building and maintaining relationships with people. We're spreading out as a society... and filling the gaps with junk. *sigh*

    This really is a fascinating read, even if you are not a hoarder, and even if you don't know one. It's an interesting and compassionate look at a very misunderstood compulsion.

  • Donna

    The hoarding shows cruise along on shock value, and geez, if you've seen one house filled to the brim with newspapers, unused storage bins, cat turds, and raccoon corpses, you've seen them all. Wasn't it Tolstoy who noticed that clean houses are all the same, but the messy ones...

    This book is much more interesting than the TV shows. Sure, all the classics are here, the Collier brothers, the people who keep their pee in jars (don't look to closely at those Oh Henry bars...) but without the smack

    The hoarding shows cruise along on shock value, and geez, if you've seen one house filled to the brim with newspapers, unused storage bins, cat turds, and raccoon corpses, you've seen them all. Wasn't it Tolstoy who noticed that clean houses are all the same, but the messy ones...

    This book is much more interesting than the TV shows. Sure, all the classics are here, the Collier brothers, the people who keep their pee in jars (don't look to closely at those Oh Henry bars...) but without the smack smack smack of jump cut b-roll, this book can really get into what situations (isolation) and individual characteristics can lead a mild mannered matchbook collector down the goat path to death by newspaper; so heavy and smothery once they're piled over 10 feet.

    Am I a cleaning lady away from death by book? I am lucky enough to have one of the great ones. She knows how to keep me in line without making my house feel strange to me. There is not an empty shoebox or old piece of useless crap that doesn't leave this house within 2 weeks of official POS-dom. She has a lovely understanding of my relationship to my stuff including the pile of books in the corner of my bedroom that will soon go onto a bookshelf. (revolution!) AND my back porch is empty. EMPTY! Just thrown into a small trailer and taken to the dump, except for one old roller skate. When I pick it up, I can feel the vibration of steel wheels on asphalt shaking my 9 year old knees as I tear-assed down Avondale hill on summer afternoons.

    She is a gem, and while reading this book, I thought a lot about Cynthia and wondered if some of these people entering their houses through the strait gate (stuff piled against the front door) might not have gone so far if they had that extra voice of reason in the mix. But that extra voice costs money.

    We all let ourselves go a bit at a certain age. A certain amount of this letting go is liberating, but for some it's a quick slide into the oubliette of non-youth to lie in the ash heap with the other discarded toys.

    Anyway, this book really gets beyond the usual shock images and is well worth reading to get to know these people above and beyond their designation as 'hoarders'. They also get into what it's like for the children of hoarders, and the authors tie in societal changes in our relationship to possessions through the rapidly metastasizing presence of storage places.

    Worth reading.

  • Ashley

    This book was completely fascinating.

    I know I say this a lot, but I really should have reviewed this book right after reading, because details don't always stick around long enough for me to remember to write about them. This book in particular was chock full of so many interesting details I know it would be impossible for me to convey most of them even if I'd written this review ten seconds after finishing. And it's been a month and a half.

    Randy O. Frost was a professor at Smith college when an

    This book was completely fascinating.

    I know I say this a lot, but I really should have reviewed this book right after reading, because details don't always stick around long enough for me to remember to write about them. This book in particular was chock full of so many interesting details I know it would be impossible for me to convey most of them even if I'd written this review ten seconds after finishing. And it's been a month and a half.

    Randy O. Frost was a professor at Smith college when an undergraduate's project on hoarding, which was believed to be a subset of obsessive compulsive disorder at the time, prompted him to pioneer the research field into hoarding as its own separate thing, with different causes and symptoms (and treatments). He and his co-author Gail Steketee (who he explains in the intro mostly helped him with research and compiling data, while he did the writing) are still the leading researchers in the field.

    This book is part explanation of the causes of hoarding, its linkage to OCD, and parsing out of why hoarders do what they do, psychologically and biologically; and it is also part case history. One of the reasons the book is so interesting is that he uses specific cases histories for patients with varying types of hoarding to illustrate the points he is making. He weaves the story of their hoarding in with explanations of their behavior, and of hoarding itself. It is never jargony, but still maintains scientific credibility. In my opinion, it's a book that scholars and pleasure readers alike will find worthwhile.

    There was just so much I didn't know about hoarding before I read this, like the previously mentioned connections with OCD (as of the writing of this book in 2010, there were theories about why so many people with OCD are also hoarders, but not all hoarders have OCD, and not all people with OCD are hoarders), and connections with ADHD as well. Even the story the book opens with, of the most famous hoarding case in New York history, is one I hadn't heard before. And it's all grounded in human stories. You really feel for each person he profiles, as he details just exactly how their hoarding has affected their lives.

    My only "complaint" here would be that since this is a growing research field, new and exciting discoveries are presumably being made about hoarding as we speak, and the book was published waaaaay back in 2010, it's probably already out of date. I hope they do an updated version sometime in the future, and that some of the lingering questions brought up in this book have some answers.

    Note: Do not read or listen to the chapter on garbage hoarders if you are eating now, plan to eat soon, or have recently eaten. It is stomach churning stuff.

  • Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh

    You’ve seen them, odds are there’s one on your street – that house with the curtains always closed, junk spilling out into the yard. Maybe like me you’re morbidly curious, wondering why on earth anyone would live like that and

    This opens that door, you’ll wander through the

    of the compulsive hoarder, and explains all the complicated reasons behind it. Guaranteed it’ll have you questioning all the STUFF you worked so hard to buy and can’t bring yourself

    You’ve seen them, odds are there’s one on your street – that house with the curtains always closed, junk spilling out into the yard. Maybe like me you’re morbidly curious, wondering why on earth anyone would live like that and

    This opens that door, you’ll wander through the

    of the compulsive hoarder, and explains all the complicated reasons behind it. Guaranteed it’ll have you questioning all the STUFF you worked so hard to buy and can’t bring yourself to let go of (books anyone?)

    - perhaps inspire a clean-out and yard sale...

    Well researched you’ll get all the statistics, but it’s readable too - the case studies offer that human touch. I like art so enjoyed learning how most hoarders have an artistic bend, an appreciation of the beauty of mundane objects - a bottle cap, a scrap of cloth.

    Talks about Andy Warhol, the most famous of them all

    Now I GET his soup can paintings! Click spoiler if you want to know about his time capsules - fascinating.

    Bottom-line it’s really interesting and well worth your time. Glad a mental disorder fraught with shame and secrecy is coming out of the closet.

    Repetitive with a tendency to overstate the obvious. Not faulting the author, clearly a sympathetic advocate of hoarders and their families but it can be discouraging - most of the cases seemed incurable.

    ________________________________________

    My spin, forget bargain hunting, the smart money’s in the Mini-Storage business. Your target market is huge, pretty well everyone has more stuff than they have room for, not just compulsive hoarders. Think of all those downsizing baby-boomers selling their homes and moving into condos… Spoiler is U.S. stats but suspect pretty universal.

  • Jason

    Whoa, too close to home baby! This book reveals secrets my family spent 2 generations disguising, and now, with grandkids in play, we may be foisting this problem onto the next genealogical branch.

    Embarrassment?

    Anguish.

    Down-shot, slant-cast eyes--don’t, don’t look at me.

    Shameface.

    Uncomfortable stammer; no, make that painful acting.

    Rituals. Save, save, save.

    Followed by--always--rage: “DON’T...WANT TO...TALK.”

    Disbelief, ignorance, disgrace, cruelty.

    .................*help*

    What is HAPPENING

    Whoa, too close to home baby! This book reveals secrets my family spent 2 generations disguising, and now, with grandkids in play, we may be foisting this problem onto the next genealogical branch.

    Embarrassment?

    Anguish.

    Down-shot, slant-cast eyes--don’t, don’t look at me.

    Shameface.

    Uncomfortable stammer; no, make that painful acting.

    Rituals. Save, save, save.

    Followed by--always--rage: “DON’T...WANT TO...TALK.”

    Disbelief, ignorance, disgrace, cruelty.

    .................*help*

    What is HAPPENING to this family?

    Hoarding, a type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), has finally arrived. Books are being published, research is being focused, 2 separate TV series are currently being aired, and the public has latched on to this compulsion as the newest, morbidly interesting human problem discussed around the water cooler at work. It seems like our cultural dialogue moves from one mental disorder to another, each exposed by emerging research. A disorder is canonized by medical journals, people are diagnosed in greater numbers, medicine is passed by the FDA, and then during all this, the disorder enters the lexicon, passes the veil of stigma, and becomes an almost hip thing to talk about. Hoarding, yes. It’s always been here, but safe to say, I think it has arrived. In other words, you probably know someone who has it. And now you’re comfortable to call it by name. This has happened in the past with depression in the 70’s, ADD and OCD in the 80’s, ADHD and autism in the 90’s, PTSD in the 00s, and now hoarding. Each was privately suffered in guilt, and at some point the secret became evanescent, and finally people are being, if not helped, then at least identified and diagnosed.

    But let me tell you. Despite the graphic pictures of the homes, basements, or garages of people who suffer from hoarding, just because you don’t, it doesn’t make this a very real, painful, and pathological condition. And like other mental disorders, it affects more than one person. Usually it involves the painful, time-consuming cover-up of most members of the family in collusion. It becomes more than one person’s disorder. And, because unlike other disorders that are contained within the cranium, this disorder spills out into the home--physically--and encroaches and soon buries everyone else.

    So, my close-ish relative. Over the years, this person’s extended family has shunted the hoarding to certain places and funneled it into certain categories, but it’s taken reserves of manpower and spirit to live with it daily. You can’t control it; you can only contain it, as might a dike to water. Don’t leave this person alone. It will pour into spaces that are actually livable. A wasted life? No. A whole different perspective about the material world? Absolutely. Their brain comprehends material possession in an entirely different way than you or me. It’s not a need to buy new things or expensive things (it’s not hyper-consumerism). That would imply a rational--though misplaced--conscious decision-making process. Instead, hoarding is an absurd, faultless, uncontrollable desire to have something in disproportion to how it will ultimately be used. Sadly, we know the desire will never be satisfied. This is not living in debt; this is living in what almost always becomes squalor.

    There are some neat statistics in the book about Hoarders, and you’d be shocked to discover what percentage of Americans have this penchant to hoard.

    does a good job tracing and hypothesizing these urges back to their atavistic roots by looking at other species that hoard. There’s evidence of genetic encoding for storing (hoarding), and a biological reason to engorge yourself with different tools, foods, and necessities in times of scarcity. Perhaps the brain evolved to gather, originally hardwired to hoard, but retooled and replaced by more expressive and useful chromosomal base pairs, yet in a percentage of people the vestigial urge is unlocked and overpowers the restraints built into the helix over millions of years.

    Hoarding makes for such good shock value on TV, luridly observing how people have converted their homes into animal trails between the towering mounds of junk; how possessions in the bedroom or attic become layered over the years like deposits of alluvial sediment; how people no longer sleep in their beds, but in some jiggered nest in the house, slowly shrinking; how entire rooms are eventually stoppered by items of ostensible necessity--like used paper cups, junk mail, unfitted clothing, odd lumber, things found along the road, broken stuff, (what’s this--a freaking rat--are you kidding me?), piles and piles and stacks of the shit. Boy, that sure looks better on camera than PTSD or autism. It’s an unfortunate illness, hoarding, because you

    see it, you don’t have to visualize it. You can invade someone’s space and see the hoarding in fascinating aggregate, a continuum from clean and ordered to grossly unsanitary. The cameras will expose it, and the hoarders are always astonished and embarrassed that it got this bad, not unlike the disbelief when you see medical pictures of a South American woman with a 200 pound goiter going about business as if this is the way of life.

    is a book that subdivides hoarding into more specific characteristics. There are broad categories to this illness, but like the human brain, there are as many different ways and reasons to hoard as there are hoarders, sprinkled, as I know they are, all among your suburbs and exurbs and inner cities and foreign countries even though you don’t know it. There are people who hoard junk, who hoard clothes, who hoard cats, food, and information. There are people who hoard anything that can be reused, fixed, or converted. There are people who hoard memories, for love, to be noticed. There are people who hoard feelings, and dog fur, and your trash bags. The book uses a delicate hand but does not shy from revealing the illness with brute force. My relative, you guessed it, fits in between several of the categories. That’s probably how it works with most hoarders. Taking pieces and parts from the chapters, I construct traits that explain what is going on with my relative.

    The book provides some good--but not extensive--psychological causes for the general categories of hoarding. It also lists things and attitudes by which to deal with hoarders. This is a good preliminary book of an illness we’re going to hear much about in the coming years. It’s a vicious, entropic disease no less intractable than alcoholism, drug abuse, or depression. Hoarders suffer painfully--physically and emotionally. They don’t want to hoard, but they can’t help it, and they’re surrounded by it. The book also provides some testimonial from actual hoarders that the author has followed for years. What I would like to have seen, although it would probably only be conjecture at this point, is an analysis on whether people today, with the richest source of goods available ever and myriad ways to get them, are yet experiencing new and additional manifestations of an illness that has been around for--really--ever. Is it like obesity, which increases when the culture has more leisure time and less labor to perform? Is there a link between availability of ‘stuff’ and its resultant hoarding? Or does the sickness exist in some relatively stable and predictable percentage in the genetic pool?

    I highly recommend this book if you know someone with hoarding tendencies--you can finally discover what they’ve wanted to tell you, but lacked the courage to do so. Otherwise, it’s a good read if you can’t get enough of hoarding on TV. 3.5 stars.

    New words: folie à deux,

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    I read this book as a paranoid. I kept looking around my house and thinking...I might be a hoarder. I do have those books stuffed under the bed so the husband can't see them. (He knows). I do have that cabinet in the kitchen that crap falls out of when I open it.

    This book takes a look at the why and how of people collecting things. Some of the stories just broke my heart, however it felt like the authors were just there to write a book. They didn't seem to take the caring part to heart. I felt

    I read this book as a paranoid. I kept looking around my house and thinking...I might be a hoarder. I do have those books stuffed under the bed so the husband can't see them. (He knows). I do have that cabinet in the kitchen that crap falls out of when I open it.

    This book takes a look at the why and how of people collecting things. Some of the stories just broke my heart, however it felt like the authors were just there to write a book. They didn't seem to take the caring part to heart. I felt bad for so many of these people. They are smart people! Some have OCD (which I do to some point) some have had horrible lives and in the case of one poor woman she can't stand up to her brother..even when he endangers her with his filth.

    The TV show "Hoarders" has enlightened our nation to this problem. It's vast.

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