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109 of 110 people found the following review helpful
This book fills a gap in published information about hoarding. Other excellent books exist for hoarders themselves or for professionals who treat hoarders, but there has not been a book directed at the people whose loved ones hoard. The authors deal with the frustration family members or friends feel regarding an uncooperative person with excessive clutter. In addition to addressing the emotional toll on those around the hoarder, the book educates readers about hoarding, including setting realistic expectations for changing the situation. Particularly useful is the application of harm reduction theory to hoarding. This examines how friends and family can help the hoarder to minimize health and safety hazards. Digging Out presents a comprehensive, easy to read guide for those who are at their wit's end. No doubt it will be a seminal book for working with hoarders.
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71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2011
This book does a very good job clarifying priorities when it comes to clearing the mess of a hoarder (i.e. instead of approaching the situation with a "TOSS EVERYTHING!" attitude, it advocates a "harm reduction" stance, which focuses on maximizing your loved one's safety & comfort over discarding his or her things). It tries to get the reader accustomed to the idea that the hoarder will probably never be as horrified about their living conditions as those around them.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the majority of the book seems to focus on elderly hoarders (that does put a particular slant on the text), which may be positive or negative, depending on the reader. It goes into great lengths discussing the challenges of dealing with a hoarder in the grips of Alzheimer's or dementia or those who have difficulties getting around without the use of walkers or finding their medications in the clutter.

Unfortunately, for people dealing with younger/youngish hoarders, the condescending psycho-babble in the hypothetical discussions is completely off-putting (eye-rolling at times) & would lose any credibility I personally have with my particular hoarder. Additionally, once a "harm reduction team" is gathered (good luck with that), trying to get the hoarder to sign a contract about how to keep one's OWN property is also condescending, intentionally so or not. This book is really a bit better suited for older hoarders (rather than middle-aged or younger ones).

However, these techniques may work for some. Plus, the more flexible "harm reduction" approach over the more staunch "STUFF reduction" method could potentially open more hoarders to purging.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2011
The book "Digging Out" takes a new, pragmatic tack toward the problem of moderate to severe hoarding behavior. It is written for those who are living with, are related to, or are friends of hoarders and as such is the first book to address their concerns directly. It also takes a health and safety approach that reduces unrealistic expectations while offering a toolbox full of useful techniques. I have used some of the communicative strategies in the book with success and the stress and conflict in my situation has been reduced.

Other reviewers criticize the book for its emphasis on the elderly and/or dementia sufferers. I did not find this emphasis distracting, though I must admit I see my situation inevitably heading in that direction. A more distracting technique was the repeated use of the phrase "loved one" to refer to the hoarder. Writing well is not a matter of search and replace. Nevertheless, I was motivated to finish reading the book despite its occasional formulaic quality.

The book is quite forward looking in its recognition that hoarding behavior might not be confined to OCD syndromes but also include ADHD profiles, which puts it near the leading edge of contemporary research. I wish there had been more in the book that directly addressed the relationship between OCD and ADHD behavior in hoarders. The biggest shortcoming of the book is that conceptually, and in the form of many sample dialogs, the authors assume at least some level of cooperation on the part of the hoarder. Total denial is so common yet so insurmountable that the examples seemed (to this reader) almost cartoonlike. Still, this book has schooled me in a more humane and caring approach toward my own "loved one."
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2012
My family are a bunch of creatives and as such thed to hoard anything that looks remotely like it might come in useful sometime in the rest of their lives. It even got to the stage that when our son was born they passed on hand-me-down junk to us that filled our carport. I heard about this book from a friend and bought a copy. It really helped out.

First off I read it and learned exactly what hoarding is from a therapist's point of view and how to begin working on the problem without upsetting anyone. The main lessons were aimed at minimising harm and they simple language the two authors use got the message over really quickly and didn't leave me guessing about any big medical terminology. They even have a section on planning out your decluttering process. We worked through the book and have made progress. It's an opn-going thing and slowly we're learning to change the way we view our home and are really beginning to enjoy it now it's not a dumping ground for junk.

Top marks.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2013
If you have a loved one who you think might be tending toward hoarding a little too much, and s/he has you worried, please read this book. The tips in this book for working with your loved one really do work. We went from "DON'T TOUCH MY STUFF!!!" to cleaning out four rooms within a month. All I had to do was follow the harm reduction plan in this book (not that it was that simple or easy). The best advice I can give is where the book says wait until you've finished the book to start working with your loved one -- please, do that. Get through the whole thing, then sit down with the plan you've made and go over it with whoever else will be working on your team. The techniques and planning in this book helped me to change my loved one's thinking errors as they relate to "stuff" that's being saved.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2010
I think this is a terrific book. It not only explains a hoarder's logic, but also gives you a plan of attack that makes sense. It shows how they think completly different about a basic object. I'd highly recommend it, the books allows you to get past the anger/resentment and gives you a deeper understanding of "why" and how you can help. Great!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2013
For families who are at wit's end in dealing with hoarding behavior. The book provides a kind and firm approach to dealing with the hazards and makes interactions more productive.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2011
I would have liked more info about how to help a hoarder friend or relative who lives a long distance away. Overall, it's a helpful book, does a good job of explaining the problem and suggesting solutions. I am not sure the "contract approach" is practical for non- professionals. However, I am adding it to my library of books on the subject.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2014
I've read lots of hoarding books and there are certainly enough cable shows out there to remind me of exactly what a hoarder is. This book is somewhat different in that it focuses on how a friend or family member can help the hoarder --- plus keep your own sanity while you are at it. I've bought this book and recommended it for other friends with hoarding family members. The real key to this book is that it helps with both the emotional need of the hoarder and those who care (or are concerned) about the hoarder. In my case there was no real solution to the hoarding issue it was just a matter of dealing with it. This booked helped.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2010
You might need it at a later date. "Digging Out: Helping Your Loved One Manage Clutter, Hoarding, & Compulsive Acquiring" is a guide for those who want to help their friends and family stop their endless collecting of seemingly useless stuff which leads to more problems than that hoard is worth. With tips on convincing them to give up the hoard and living a life with less weight in the house and on their shoulders, "Digging Out" is a highly recommended advice guide with an important message.
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