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Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding: Why You Save and How You Can Stop Paperback – 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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  • Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding: Why You Save and How You Can Stop
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Collyer brothers, with their bicycle-, chandelier- and newspaper-packed Harlem apartment, may have been the most famous sufferers of compulsive hoarding (see the recent biography Ghosty Men by Franz Lidz), but this syndrome affects several million Americans, according to the authors of this excellent, easy-to-understand handbook. The authors, two psychologists and a psychiatrist, all experts in treating forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, define the syndrome as "the acquisition and saving of possessions that have little or no value" or a value perceived only by the hoarder, who "has great difficulty" discarding the objects. The book offers case histories showing how damaging the syndrome can be to one’s relationships and quality of life, self-assessment exercises and, most usefully, a discussion of treatment options, from self-help strategies using cognitive therapy to outside professional help.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: New Harbinger Publications (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157224349X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572243491
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gwendolyn Thompson on October 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding saved my life! It's the first book I have read that accurately addresses why I hang onto things and why I can't let them go. I have had to deal with clutter all my life. I have felt shame and been hard on myself until I read the book. The invaluable insights in this book have helped me to clear the clutter. Once I know why I'm hanging onto something it's much easier to let go of it! Other organizational books have not worked for me because the books assume I have no emotional obstacles to becoming organized. This book is a must-read! I am very pleased with this book and recommend it to anybody, hoarder or non-hoarder, who has difficulty with clutter and organization.
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There is no other book like this. I have seen people who suffer from compulsive hoarding and how hard it is for them to even recognize what affects them and their families. This short book was long overdue. The authors are certainly knowledgeable. They enlisted some of the best authorities in the field. Yet this book is a major disappointment. The ingredients were all there but all is lost. They miss key points about the nature of hoarding.

They do mention well-known cognitive strategies (all or nothing thinking, overgeneralization, jumping to conclusions and others). They try to apply them in "flash cards" of the kind "I am a loser because my house is such a mess". Yet most hoarders do not feel this way. They feel attached to their possessions, they can't throw them away. They do not see themselves as losers per se, but strangely attached to things that they know they must depart from but that they can't.
The authors use "flash card" with statements such as "I can't throw away these plastics bags" to be put against "should statements" and "jumping to conclusions". Yet the real thing behind what hoarders feel is not what these techniques show. The real thing is called fear. These techniques do not address them.

Later in the chapter, "cleaning the clutter", a lot of time is devoted to tell hoarders that they should separate their stuff in the categories "save", "discard" and "handle immediately". A typical hoarder will put most of his/her stuff back in the "save" category! The authors ask them to apply cognitive strategies explained in an earlier chapter without actually going through them for each type of possession and addressing the fear that hoarders feel.
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Format: Paperback
A few months ago, I was given 30 days to get my apartment to the point that it was not a fire and health hazard. I have struggled all of my adult life with hoarding and compulsively buying everything imaginable. I could barely even walk around in my place. I have read many other books, had professionals come in and "organize me", taken medication, been in therapy and nothing worked until I got this book. Not only have I gotten the physical clutter under control, my life is less cluttered and my quality of life has drastically improved. A must read for hoarders and friends and relatives of hoarders
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Format: Paperback
ok so did anyone see Oprah like me or at least heard about it.. the woman who was a hoarder was the subject. well that was the first I ever heard of this disorder. I thought my boyfriend was just a slob. I have done everything. bought him organizational books one after the next, bought cleaning products for him, and even tried to organize his house myself. I have even cleaned it ! However until this book was recommended ( I called the doctors who wrote this book, their office recommended the book) it clicked ! he immediately felt understood.I cannot believe that this book can change someone so drastically, but it has.. if you even think someone you know has a hoarding problem, this book is a staple you must have. My boyfriend is 27 and this book saved him from years of what could have been a disaster.He was on his way.. he was afraid to even throw out take -out wrappers and garbage! He now has a clean house and is not afraid to throw things out. I hope if you are even considering this book, I can make a difference with this review and help someone too !! By the way, you should still see a therapist to totally fix the problem.but this is priceless !!
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Format: Paperback
This book is what I needed years ago. I finally understand why I have too much clutter and where to start undoing it. I'm glad there is a name to put on my problem, and not just feel like I'm a slob.(which I am a perfectionist instead) I highly recommend this book for anyone who lives with clutter, who collects everything and can not throw anything out, or knows a person like that.
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Format: Paperback
This book has been very helpul, I've gotten rid of 420+ books, several stacks of old newspapers, 150+ magazines, hundreds of pounds of metal, boxes of bills from 10 years ago, bags of clothes, etc.

If you're not a hoarder, then this book won't be very useful to you because you just won't relate to the reasons they present as to why you save stuff.

They also don't list all the reasons why people save, but you can apply their techniques and insights to whatever reasons you have for saving. I didn't go through the flashcards exercise (too cumbersome) but the method is useful if you just remember and apply the reasons.

The Exposure with Response Prevention (E/RP) technique was new to me and I've found it very useful to prevent the acquisition of new stuff, mostly magazines.

In conclusion, if you hoard and save stuff, then this book is highly recommended. If you're not a hoarder, then this material will just seem foreign to you.
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