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Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things
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Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

3.9 15
by Gail Steketee, Randy Frost
 

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What possesses someone to save every scrap of paper that’s ever come into his home? What compulsions drive a woman like Irene, whose hoarding cost her her marriage? Or Ralph, whose imagined uses for castoff items like leaky old buckets almost lost him his house? Or Jerry and Alvin, wealthy twin bachelors who filled up matching luxury apartments with countless

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Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
LegalBeagle More than 1 year ago
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.
arikae More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"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.
bookhimdanno More than 1 year ago
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.
IAmOne More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Um hoarder alert #getalife
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