With a very strong opening, "Stuff" has a lot of promise. The topic alone is a hot one. And when the author discusses the research and specifically how it frequently challenges conventional views, the book is good. Unfortunately, the book becomes something of a mess afterwards as research, impressions, case studies, and personal stories all show up, but with a lack of organization that hurts the overall enjoyment.
Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."
I have been fascinated by hoarding since 1994, when I read about a couple – somewhere in Orange County, I think – dying in the January 17, 1994 Northridge Earthquake, after being squished by their belongings. One of the neighbors mentioned sometimes seeing the husband, sitting in a car stuffed with junk, reading his morning paper. The article didn’t call them “hoarders” – that term wasn’t used at the time - but that is what they were.
I have always wondered what caused people to keep so much that it could kill them. From time to time, I’ve watched A&E’s “Hoarders”, which started in 2006. Watching “Hoarders” is like slowing down as you pass a car wreck – you look, take a deep breath, try not to think too much about what you see, and are very grateful it’s not you. The distress of the hoarders that ‘volunteer’ for help is real, but that show doesn’t explain where the compulsion comes from.
Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee’s 2010 “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things” explains the why, and the why isn’t always the same. For some people, hoarding happens because they ‘store’ their memories in objects, and are afraid that if they throw those objects away, they will not keep those memories. For other people, hoarding happens because they are so afraid that they are being wasteful by throwing objects away. There are many other reasons, some of them neurological. Hoarding runs in families, and Frost and Steketee present a fascinating study of twin hoarders. There are animal hoarders, object hoarders, people who can’t pass up anything that’s free, and hoarders who start (and sometimes stop) hoarding when they are children.
The frustration the family members and friends on “Hoarders” is evident as they struggle to convince people to throw away what is to non-hoarders, junk. Frost and Steketee explain that to a hoarder, most people’s junk can be a hoarder’s dearest treasure. In many cases, taking a hoarder’s possessions can be psychologically devastating, even leading to suicide. Helping a hoarder isn’t for amateurs.
Frost and Steketee address the issue of whether hoarding is also Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and conclude that it is not. They are correct: the 2013 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) V will list “Hoarding Disorder” as a separate diagnosis.
This isn’t a “How To” on how not to recover from hoarding – Frost and Steketee provide self help for hoarders in a different (non-Audible) book, “Hoarding and Acquiring”. “Stuff” is a book for people who want to understand this fascinating disorder.
Joe Caron’s narration is lively and engaging, and the book was worth my drive time.
I admit I watch "Hoarders" on TV. I am always amazed at how some of the participants in the show appear to value their possessions over family. This book gives a very clear explanation of the thought processes (as far as they are understood) of some of the various types of hoarders, as well as effects on family and children. Dr. Frost reveals several different thought patterns that go into hoarding, whether it be perfectionism or lack of executive processing skills and functions etc. Some questions are raised that cannot be answered because we just don't and can't know (for instance, why do some children hoard?) This book will help me understand my own father better, as he sometimes appears to have these tendencies as well. After listening to this book, I don't have the desire to watch "Hoarders" anymore.
Christian, musician (piano & guitar), singer (Aussie, NZ, Country & Gospel), love nature, animal rescue primarily dogs in my case. Love God!
I was disappointed in the content of the book. All the horror stories of hoarders was not why I chose this book - I could watch that on TV! The practical use of information to help was sorely lacking other than the amount of other books recommended and some help groups. The book was incomplete. Certainly don't waste a credit on this book - it's not worth reading on sale either! Maybe get a recommendation from a health professional instead. I'm sorry I wasted my time.
I find psychological aspects of hoarding interesting and allows readers to understand it from an academic perspective. Super educational and I very much enjoyed the book. Resources for assistance identified at end of book.
This book ranks in to top 30$ of the social science books.
The emotional connections people have with STUFF.
I enjoyed this book. It was not a book about getting organized or decluttering. It describes the different types of hoarders, how people think of their stuff, what triggers someone to become a hoarder. This book gave me insight into why I tend to save certain items. I now have new reasons to get rid of my "stuff ".