Stuff: Compulsive Hoading and the Meaning of Things

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Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost & Gail Steketee

“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?

Randy Frost and Gail Steketee were the first to study hoarding when they began their work a decade ago; they expected to find a few sufferers but ended up treating hundreds of patients and fielding thousands of calls from the families of others. Now they explore the compulsion through a series of compelling case studies in the vein of Oliver Sacks. With vivid portraits that show us the traits by which you can identify a hoarder’s piles on sofas and beds that make the furniture useless, houses that can be navigated only by following small paths called goat trails, vast piles of paper that the hoarders “churn” but never discard, even collections of animals and garbage; Frost and Steketee illuminate the pull that possessions exert on all of us. Whether we’re savers, collectors, or compulsive cleaners, very few of us are in fact free of the impulses that drive hoarders to the extremes in which they live.

For all of us with complicated relationships to our things, Stuff answers the question of what happens when our stuff starts to own us.”

Have you ever watched the show Hoarders on TV? Do you know a hoarder? My grandmother was a depression child and she kept everything! After she passed away it took me over a month to clean out her house. We parked a dumpster in the front yard and I filled it at least once a week. The subject fascinates me. The book reads a bit like a textbook, it will be a little dry if you aren’t really interested in the subject. But if the subject intrigues you like it does me, you’ll get into it. The case studies are great. It’s always more interesting to equate a subject with real people. It’s also not filled with too much technical speak. There are some scientific/medical terms used but the authors explain them well. A very interesting read.

Paperback
304 pages
Published January 29th 2011 by Mariner Books (first published 2010)
ISBN13: 9780547422558
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Nonfiction (2010)

4 stars