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Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things Paperback – January 4, 2011
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"Eye-opening... Frost and Steketee write with real sympathy and appreciation for hoarders...This succinct, illuminating book will prove helpful to hoarders, their families, and mental health professionals who work with them." -- Publishers Weekly
"[The authors] invite us graciously into territory that might otherwise make us squirm . . .To those who need to understand hoarders, perhaps in their own family, Stuff offers perspective. For general readers, it is likely to provide useful stimulus for examining how we form and justify our own attachments to objects.” -- New York Times Book Review
From the Back Cover
New York Times Bestseller"Gripping . . . by turns fascinating and heartbreaking . . . Stuff invites readers to reevaluate their desire for things." Boston Globe "Authoritative." Wall Street Journal What possesses someone to fill warehouses with unread magazines? Or to pack a house so full that clearing it out must be done from the top downlest the upper story collapse? When Randy Frost and Gail Steketee became the first scientists to study hoarding, they expected to find a few sufferers. Instead, they uncovered a startling epidemic. Now, they distill the results of more than a decade of research into a series of engrossing and intimate case studies. Through towering piles on sofas and beds, vast mountains of paper that the hoarders "churn" but never discard, even a nest of more than two hundred cats, Frost and Steketee illuminate the pull that possessions exert on all of us. Probing the disquieting place where normal and abnormal blur, they answer the question: What happens when our stuff starts to own us? "Fascinating . . . A good mix of cultural and psychological theories on hoarding." Newsweek Dr. Randy Frost is Professor of Psychology at Smith College and an internationally known expert on obsessive-compulsive disorder and compulsive hoarding, as well as the pathology of perfectionism. Dr. Gail Steketee is Professor and Dean at Boston University in the School of Social Work. Together they have studied hoarding for more than a decade, and published a clinical treatment manual and a self-help handbook for hoarding. They have appeared on numerous television and radio shows and given hundreds of lectures on the subject nationally and internationally.
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My entire extended family just returned from a lengthy vacation together where a good time was had by all. The place where we stayed was palatial. I was able to leave in the trash there things I had bought for traveling that I probably would not use again, and clothes that had seen their better days. And donated new things I had not used to the cleaners. I did not overload myself with souvenirs.
When I returned to my hoarded home, the stuff I have accumulated over decades was not welcoming. It was as if the scales had been removed from my eyes and I was offended by the lack of order. I'm still jet-lagged but I have started my quest to freedom by tossing a few things and setting aside things I no longer treasure to donate. For the first time in forever I think I can, just like the little engine that could. I am grateful for this book at this time in my life. Now the work begins..
If you're looking for a freakshow like you'd see on the TV show "Hoarders," well, there's a bit of that here -- but tempered with a lot of thinking, sincere asking of questions, and even philosophy about man's relationship with the world.
We found out my father had been "hoarding" for years when he took a fall and we went up to help.
My wife was angry because NOTHING could be thrown out.
My father in law became hostile and angry (very uncharacteristic of his usual outgoing and happy countenance) when you even asked to throw useless "stuff" out. It was all treasure to him!
Although this is not a "help" or "solve the problem manual" it definitely sheds light on this bizarre illness. Compassion and some understanding came from my wife and I after reading this.
The book starts off a little slow giving case history after case history but once the author get started on an analysis of what's going on in the heads of hoarders my interest picked up considerably.
If you're not involved with a person who is a hoarder then this book may be a difficult and tedious read. But if someone close to you suffers from this malady you may find this a very useful and very interesting volume.
This researcher wrote a book on his research, but more importantly his observations of extreme hoarders. It was insightful, researched, but most important of all, an easy to read. What hit home the most was why these people did what they did (all different reasons) but it was usually a symptom of something lacking in their lives or past trauma and it was rarely about the physical "stuff". It was always about the mental/emotional "stuff" and what the acquiring, keeping or letting go of those item meant. Sometimes the physical clutter just kept a reminder of something unpleasant hidden so they wouldn't have to deal with the emotions of it. While my family are not hoarders, I found myself seeing similarities as to why I would keep things, or why I had purchased multiples of items (when I couldn't find the ones I already had).
This book is a good read for those who like to reflect on examples of others. However, if you are looking for a "how to" book, as though someone is talking to you personally I would recommend the books by Peter Walsh an David Tolin.