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Digging Out: Helping Your Loved One Manage Clutter, Hoarding, and Compulsive Acquiring Paperback – November 1, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“If your loved one has a problem with compulsive saving, this book can help you both save what really counts—yourselves! With equal parts compassion, wisdom, and practicality, Michael Tompkins and Tamara Hartl offer step-by-step instructions for helping family members and friends with hoarding challenges. The authors’ passion for their work comes through on every page, and their extensive experience is evident in every nugget of advice they offer.”
—Jeff Bell, author of When in Doubt, Make Belief: An OCD-Inspired Approach to Living with Uncertainty

From the Publisher

In Digging Out, two psychologists who specialize in compulsive hoarding show readers with a friend or family member who hoards how to use harm reduction, a proven-effective model, to help their loved one live safely and comfortably in his or her own home and improve their relationship with the hoarder.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: New Harbinger Publications; 1 edition (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572245948
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572245945
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Varness on November 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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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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