Customer Reviews for

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Comprehensive and Compassionate View of a Serious Illness

Hoarding, an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, is one of the last taboo mental illnesses. The suffers and their families generally hide the problem from friends, co-workers, neighbors and even other loved ones because of the shame associated with the problem. I...
Hoarding, an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, is one of the last taboo mental illnesses. The suffers and their families generally hide the problem from friends, co-workers, neighbors and even other loved ones because of the shame associated with the problem. In Stuff by professors Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee, the authors explore the causes, manifestations, and therapeutic treatment of the condition.

Hoarding is defined "not by the number of possessions, but how the acquisition and management of those possessions affects their owners. When hoarding causes distress or impairs one's ability to perform basic functions, it has crossed the lines into pathology." Certain traits are associated with hoarding: perfectionism, indecision, and strong attachment issues to "things." Interestingly, many hoarders are creative and intelligent individuals who are able to see the potential for items that most would discard as trash. Unfortunately, however, this "gift" leads hoarders to be unable to part with newspapers, magazines, old clothing, plastic containers, slips of paper and much, much more.

Treatment for hoarding is vastly more complicated than simply a forced cleaning of hoarders' homes. As the authors explain:

One of the worst experiences for someone with a hoarding problem occurs when another person or crew clear out the home . . . . [B]ecause of the hoarder's difficulties with organization, the piles often contain much more than trash. . . . [U]nder the decades-old newspaper may be the title to the person's car or the diamond ring she lost years before. These scenarios almost always leave the hoarder feeling as if his or her valued possessions have been taken away, which may be the case. Beyond this, most hoarders have a sense of where things are amid the clutter. When someone moves or discards even a portion of it, this sense of "order" is destroyed. We know of several cases in which hoarders have committed suicide following a forced cleanout.

So what does work? Based on the case studies in Stuff it appears that hands-on therapy where the therapist guides the hoarder through the thought processes to discarding their possessions is the best method. However, this is no easy feat. According to Drs. Frost and Steketee, a combination of "[c]ontrolling one's thinking may take a lifetime of effort for people with serious hoarding problems.

I highly recommend Stuff for both suffers and their family/friends (as well as for those who are simply curious about the condition)! While it may not "cure" the problem is does compassionately and thoroughly explain a profound mental illness.




Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 20, 2010), 304 pages.
Review based on a borrowed library book.

posted by LegalBeagle on May 9, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

WOW!!! This is a scary idea, people's stuff is taking over lives.

Well that was disturbing. I see lots of people I know and a bit of myself in these pages. I have a hard time getting rid of things so that I have a set of rules for new things coming in the house. Something comes in, something goes out, or the new item goes back to wher...
Well that was disturbing. I see lots of people I know and a bit of myself in these pages. I have a hard time getting rid of things so that I have a set of rules for new things coming in the house. Something comes in, something goes out, or the new item goes back to where it came from. The idea of living in a house or apartment with halls created by piles of papers and junk scares me. My kids have to do that same thing and I clean out there rooms a few times a year to be sure they are not collecting to many things and especially garbage(Lego boxes, old school papers, instructions and boxes to items they bought that don't need to be kept.)
This was an eye opening look at how bad Hoarding can get, scary scary scary. This makes me want to spend my next day off cleaning out things we don't use much any more. I will bring less into the house this holiday season. We all need experiences more then we need more stuff. Stuff has to be dusted,cared for,organized,and it takes time from us, but experiences make only memories.

posted by bookhimdanno on December 18, 2010

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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Page 1 of 5
  • Posted May 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Comprehensive and Compassionate View of a Serious Illness

    Hoarding, an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, is one of the last taboo mental illnesses. The suffers and their families generally hide the problem from friends, co-workers, neighbors and even other loved ones because of the shame associated with the problem. In Stuff by professors Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee, the authors explore the causes, manifestations, and therapeutic treatment of the condition.

    Hoarding is defined "not by the number of possessions, but how the acquisition and management of those possessions affects their owners. When hoarding causes distress or impairs one's ability to perform basic functions, it has crossed the lines into pathology." Certain traits are associated with hoarding: perfectionism, indecision, and strong attachment issues to "things." Interestingly, many hoarders are creative and intelligent individuals who are able to see the potential for items that most would discard as trash. Unfortunately, however, this "gift" leads hoarders to be unable to part with newspapers, magazines, old clothing, plastic containers, slips of paper and much, much more.

    Treatment for hoarding is vastly more complicated than simply a forced cleaning of hoarders' homes. As the authors explain:

    One of the worst experiences for someone with a hoarding problem occurs when another person or crew clear out the home . . . . [B]ecause of the hoarder's difficulties with organization, the piles often contain much more than trash. . . . [U]nder the decades-old newspaper may be the title to the person's car or the diamond ring she lost years before. These scenarios almost always leave the hoarder feeling as if his or her valued possessions have been taken away, which may be the case. Beyond this, most hoarders have a sense of where things are amid the clutter. When someone moves or discards even a portion of it, this sense of "order" is destroyed. We know of several cases in which hoarders have committed suicide following a forced cleanout.

    So what does work? Based on the case studies in Stuff it appears that hands-on therapy where the therapist guides the hoarder through the thought processes to discarding their possessions is the best method. However, this is no easy feat. According to Drs. Frost and Steketee, a combination of "[c]ontrolling one's thinking may take a lifetime of effort for people with serious hoarding problems.

    I highly recommend Stuff for both suffers and their family/friends (as well as for those who are simply curious about the condition)! While it may not "cure" the problem is does compassionately and thoroughly explain a profound mental illness.




    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 20, 2010), 304 pages.
    Review based on a borrowed library book.

    11 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013

    Great and Informative read

    I enjoyed reading this book as I have a few hoaders in my family...notice and realize I too have the tendency to keep/hold on to stuff for the sake of memories; and how simply seeing these objects helps my memory recall of "back when..." Seeing how I already have these tendencies allows me to be more aware of my behavior and how I can hopefully prevent stuff taking over my life.
    I highly recommend this book to anyone who is connected to a hoarder. There is way more to the process and reasoning behind why, mentally and emotionally, people end up like those individuals in this book. Understanding a person is more useful than judging ones behaviors.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 4, 2011

    I recommend this to anyone who knows a hoarder...

    Maybe you know someone who is a hoarder. Maybe you know a friend who is a friend to a hoarder. You've seen the show on TV and can't understand what causes a person to become so possessed by their possessions. A lot of what I thought about hoarders came from what I'd seen on TV, and what others who know a hoarder have told me. I realized after getting half way into the book that this is a mental health problem. People who live trapped in their homes with all their stuff often don't want to live like that. They don't know how to let their things go. They need help. Criticizing and humiliating them doesn't help them. The authors "Stuff" write with great insight and compassion for the people who have let them into their homes. The cases presented are intriguing, and the people they interview are intelligent, sensitive. They could easily be our neighbor, our friend, our loved one. I was surprised when I read how there is a degree of hoarding in all of us. This book opened my eyes to what many people are living with because they don't know how to stop saving and collecting things. "Stuff" helped me gain compassion for someone caught up in this kind of obsession. Yes, I'd recommend it to anyone trying to understand this depressing condition.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 4, 2010

    What's behind the "Stuff".

    As someone who has lived with a hoarder this book provides answers and insight into the "why is this person living like this?". If you know or love someone who has these tendencies, read this book!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    WOW!!! This is a scary idea, people's stuff is taking over lives.

    Well that was disturbing. I see lots of people I know and a bit of myself in these pages. I have a hard time getting rid of things so that I have a set of rules for new things coming in the house. Something comes in, something goes out, or the new item goes back to where it came from. The idea of living in a house or apartment with halls created by piles of papers and junk scares me. My kids have to do that same thing and I clean out there rooms a few times a year to be sure they are not collecting to many things and especially garbage(Lego boxes, old school papers, instructions and boxes to items they bought that don't need to be kept.)
    This was an eye opening look at how bad Hoarding can get, scary scary scary. This makes me want to spend my next day off cleaning out things we don't use much any more. I will bring less into the house this holiday season. We all need experiences more then we need more stuff. Stuff has to be dusted,cared for,organized,and it takes time from us, but experiences make only memories.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2010

    An Eye Opener

    "Stuff," it turns out, is the stuff of nightmares. Compulsive hoarding is a serious problem for a small, but significant number of people. Frost provides a valuable introduction to what the social sciences community has found out about hoarders, primarily in recent years, though it is an old condition. The author uses case studies to illuminate different types and levels of hoarding behavior (e.g., animal hoarding, hoarding by children). It was an eye opener to learn how conventional approaches to confront or even force hoarders to give up their possessions are useless, even if the hoarder admits to his/her problem. Long-term therapy with a professional familiar with hoarding treatment appears to be the main option that has had limited success. This is an important, eye-opening work that avoids academic jargon. Highly recommended for hoarders, those who care about them and those who are just curious about unusual social behavior.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 26, 2010

    Interesting and Helpful

    This book offers real and in-depth detail on what hoarding and its many manifestations are. Having a hoarder in the family, this has been enlightening and offered us useful and tangible ideas for both how to help and how not to help. Finally, someone has written about this painful and difficult illness.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2014

    Easy to understand

    Supported with facts and studies and easy to relate

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2014

    Very interesting.

    An easy read that offers facts, examples, and advise. The book is well written to keep the reader engaged. It gave examples from varied age groups and a variety of groups of people. It was not a one size fits all, but offered a selection of helpful tips and resources. The book deserves A+++++

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    I just found this book today in Nooks Deal of the Day. Thank yo

    I just found this book today in Nooks Deal of the Day. Thank you so much. 5 years ago I had to down size because of my husbands health and now we live I a 1600 sq. ft. home. I am use to 3 bdrooms, 3 baths ,family room, separate laundry, etc. I still have boxes of God Only Knows in my poor daughters house. Basement and attic. I can not bring myself to even look in these boxes. I have collected many things from my 38 years of travel. I use to have room for. I can not let this stuff go. I am hoping that this book will give the encouragement I need to even start. Thanks again.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An Eye Opener

    As my son says there is a reason for everything. This book was definitely an eye opener. I am strong believer that in order to know why you are doing something, you have find the point that something or somebody failed you. For anybody who feels a need to hold on to anything from material things to momentos this is a good start.

    For any anyone who likes to hold on to their anger, I also recommend "When God Stopped Keeping Score." I thought that the book was just about forgiveness, I soon learned, it was about so much more. Having read it, I feel like a better person. Maybe because this book spoke to me and not down to me. I have read a lot of books that was written like I didn't know anything. What the author of "When God Stopped Keeping Score" does is talk to you like a friend. I needed that.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2014

    Super interesting

    A great look into the homes of hoarders, causes for hoarding, and the right way to try to treat them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2014

    Great stuff

    A serious and compassionate book on hoarding. A must-read for anyone who has a loved one who exhibits signs of hoarding.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2014

    Interesting and Exciting.

    It gives you an inside look on how it is in a life of a hoarder and about the consequences of one. It ii also and exciting mystery book about how they thought he was dead but he really wasnt and he was taken care of by his brother but in a tragic accident the brother died and the old man being blind and deaf wasnt able to do the neccesary things to do to live and he died a few feet away from his deceased brother and in a search for the bodies they found many amazing things inside their machine including a two-headed fetus and acrs and other amazing things but the rest is for you to find out!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2012

    Oookkaayy i guess

    :) guess you tapped on my review thinking that there would be like a hundred words. Well all im gonna say iiissss............. book is good! YEAH BLAH BLAH BLAH SOME STUFF WAS KINDA BORING!!!! BUT I RATED THIS BOOK4/5 STARS AND THAT IS GOOODD EENNNOOUUGGHH!!! OKAY!!!!!!!???? >:O

    1 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2014

    My crush

    Shelby

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Alyssa's Crush...

    Link/Alex

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Jackson's crush is...

    Dont wanna tell u but ill give ya a hint, she always makes me smile

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2014

    Claire

    Well.. I don't got one 'cause Kenny is my boyfriend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Heather

    Well, i know nobody likes me, so im not sayin who i like ^_^

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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