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Stuff Audiobook

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

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Audible Editor Reviews

If upon first listen, Stuff sounds like a textbook for a collegiate course on Hoarding 101, well, that’s because Frost is a university professor and researcher. But don’t skip over this book — it’s the most fascinating college course you never took. Frost and his co-author Gail Steketee delve into the world of hoarding and the psychology behind the affliction by discussing case studies like Irene, a woman who has driven away her husband because she can’t let go of her stuff. It appears that Irene collects things at random — stacks of old newspapers and magazines, scraps of paper with telephone numbers, expired coupons, instructions to children’s board games. On deeper inspection, there are a number of reasons why Irene collects, like her possessions represent a connection to the outside world, or the act of collecting is a relief to her undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder. While there’s no one motivation behind hoarding, Frost and Steketee posit a number of theories — and debunk some of the more common ones (like the idea that hoarders were deprived of material things as children).

Frost’s genuine and friendly tone is confident and assured — not surprisingly it’s much like that of a college professor. You can almost picture him working the slide projector as he speaks, and must fight off the urge to take notes. He’s a natural storyteller, and draws you into his scientific world without you realizing it. You just know you want to hear more.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this book is listeners will undoubtedly see a part of themselves in each hoarder — we all collect things to an extent: sentimental photographs, old coins, bank statements. It’s not just voyeurism, it’s learning when the line of collecting blurs into hoarding. Frost has the answers, and plenty of questions. If you like A&E’s television show Hoarders, you’ll love Stuff. —Colleen Oakley

Publisher's Summary

What possesses someone to save every scrap of paper thats 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 - 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.

©2010 Randy O. Frost & Gail Steketee (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This succinct, illuminating book will prove helpful to hoarders, their families, and mental health professionals who work with them." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 11-24-13
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 11-24-13 Member Since 2011

    I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.

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    "Compulsive Reading"

    Here's the takeaway: this is a shocking and fascinating book. The authors are therapists who specialize in hoarding behavior and helping individuals overcome their compulsions. And what compulsions they are!The subjects in this book have collected so much stuff they don't know the size of their rooms, they forget whole rooms exist, they have to crawl to certain destinations, they put their health and marriages at risk, and they cannot stop.

    You'll watch as the authors employ a series of creative treatments to try and mitigate the compulsions. Some succeed and some fail. What is most incredible is the chapter about childhood hoarding, proving the behavior can be inherited or learned. This is a short but amazing read, highly recommended.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
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    yoko Woodside, NY, United States 05-25-11
    yoko Woodside, NY, United States 05-25-11 Member Since 2016
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    "It helped me soo much to understand my friends"

    I had a hard time understanding what was going on in their head, and this helped me talking with them in their language.
    However, Since I'm working in the psychiatric field, I wish they could write more about what kind of medicine could reduce the anxiety when hoarder has to through away stuff etc...

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
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    christy Plano, TX, United States 03-12-13
    christy Plano, TX, United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2011
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    "I had no idea..."

    My mother is what I would describe a Pre-Hoarder. She is not SEVERE like the people in this book, but she could tip and head this way at any moment. I feel like I have better insite into her emotional connection with stuff, and I feel better prepared to lovingly steer her towards a path to recovery. Potentially a huge help.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    Traci VERNON, NJ, United States 05-21-12
    Traci VERNON, NJ, United States 05-21-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Insightful yet lacking"

    This book delves into the world of hoarding. It portrays a clear picture of hoarders and their thought processes but stops short of finding resolve for such an issue. The narrator was well spoken but really whiny at times. I definitely found this interesting but I was hoping for a little bit more.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Norma Del Valle, TX, United States 08-17-10
    Norma Del Valle, TX, United States 08-17-10 Member Since 2012
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    "Stuff"Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Thing"

    Very insightful and thought provoking. It has reallly helped me understand the hoarder in my life!

    17 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn 04-11-11
    Lynn 04-11-11
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    "Informative"

    Frost and Stekeete set out to describe compulsive hoarding and accomplish that in a most informative way. Their book gets beyond the "what" hoarders do to the "why" they do it. The reader will gain insight into the thinking of hoarders and, by the way, insights into their own compulsions. Collectors, hoarders of animals, and those who just collect junk and trash are all allocated their own chapters. My living quarters are not a trash heap, but there are books every where that I keep perhaps afraid that I'll miss out on something if they are lost. My dad passed with a garage full of scraps, tools, and broken antiques. I am convined now, that he just ran out of time to tackle each "project." He kept them because he wanted to work on the projects they represented. The book is entertaining and well read by Joe Caron.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
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    happy wife Willcox, Arizona 10-20-15
    happy wife Willcox, Arizona 10-20-15
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    "I understand hoarding now"
    If you could sum up Stuff in three words, what would they be?

    With so many case studies, the author really paints a detailed picture of what a hoarder does and how they think. I am in the process of helping a hoarder and this book has helped me see why it's so difficult and produces so much anxiety when they are faced with the feat of letting go of stuff.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Calliope 05-14-14
    Calliope 05-14-14
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    "Very interesting and well written"

    This is a fascinating look at some of the complex thought patterns behind compulsive acquiring and hoarding - well written and easy to understand, with good narration. I was hoping for a little more insight into animal hoarding, though it is little studied, but the whole subject is an interesting one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 05-09-12
    Tim United States 05-09-12 Member Since 2011

    Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?

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    "Digital Hoarders"

    This title was extremely interesting to learn about people with hoarding and their set of minds of materials belonging to them. In a way, we are all have the characteristics of being a hoarder. How many times have we thought about throwing something away and then saving it for later and eventually being lost in the pile? This book was very informative at bringing up the cause of the symptoms rather than the problem.

    I, and many people that I know have a problem of digital hoarding. I have a tendency of keeping files on my hard drives, taking up terabytes on my computers, leading toward an emotional meltdown when the system crashes and data are not recoverable. The types of files that I have on my computer, have no sufficient value to me and others, like my 8th grade paper on photosynthesis, but it is still there on redundant backups.

    I will probably never read this book again, but it is saved on my drives and backed up.

    How many albums do you have on your IPods and how often do you listen to them?

    Digital Hoarding is the next obsession.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
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    Robert Hanover, NH, United States 11-21-11
    Robert Hanover, NH, United States 11-21-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Helps provide insight into why people hoard"

    By describing how hoarding has effected people and their families, this book helps the reader to better understand what leads people to collect so much stuff. This is not meant as a guide to de-cluttering your life but gets at the root of how people connect to the world through their belongings. It is very well done, held my interest, and scared me into de-cluttering.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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