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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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  •  
    Teadrinker Newark, NJ, United States 11-30-14
    Teadrinker Newark, NJ, United States 11-30-14 Member Since 2015

    World Champion Parallel Parker

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    "Perfect Cocktail"

    This was a GREAT book for me because it combined my scholarly interest in truth with my lowbrow enjoyment of the TV show Hoarders. I . . . ahem . . . might hoard a little myself, or at least not be able to throw out railroad ties and broken bottles I dig up in the woods, but I still love to hear about other people who do it WORSE. I wonder if watching / reading about hoarding is a form of hoarding itself . . . .

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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    andoverbabyruth 11-13-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Absolutely fascinating!"

    Honestly, I was so intrigued by this book because I have a sibling that is a hoarder, although not as severe as the people outlined by Dr. Frost. I found a few brief parts that, if I were not a nurse practitioner, might be off-putting only because there is a lot of psychological jargon. I was fascinated by the different ages/levels of hoarding/what things and stuff mean to people. It has really helped me to understand a lot about my sister, and how there are so many other things that are associated with hoarding. Thank you for a great listen!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 06-06-14
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 06-06-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Terrific story about people and why they may hoard"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Think that you are not a hoarder huh? Well, we all have too much stuff. A hoarder is not just a person who is on the TV show. Our lives are filled with big houses with stuff we do not need and it takes away from enjoying out lives. We have to work too hard etc. to try to impress neighbors and friends. Lots to be taken in while reading this book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not moved but realized when I was growing up we did not have a big house. Nor, did my mom buy me lots of clothes or stuff. All that stuff is not necessary. Really realizing that we sure do not need the stuff and clothes are not all that necessary. Streamlining is needed in our lives.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vicki port richey, FL, United States 08-05-13
    Vicki port richey, FL, United States 08-05-13
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    "A voice for those unable to speak."
    Any additional comments?

    I am a hoarder, but I could never quite explain my feelings and thoughts to my husband about this. He saw the clutter, the pain in my eyes and heard the claims of "I don't want to be this way," but he couldn't understand what was really happening. Now, I have a language in which to build a bridge between us. This book is so insightful without being condescending. I found myself nodding along repeatedly and pausing to share. I recommend it to anyone who hoards, knows a hoarder, or who wants to know more about this topic.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer streamwood 05-07-13
    Amazon Customer streamwood 05-07-13 Member Since 2012

    I am a wife of 30 years, mother of 4 wonderful grown children and a retired teacher....one of my new goals as I turn 50 this year is to become an author! I listen to one story on audible a week I am an addict!

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    "Superb and multi-faceted! So interesting!!"
    Where does Stuff rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is my favorite ever Audible read! I so totally enjoyed it i listened to it 2 times! I was so intrigued by the vast amount of information and it was so well told! Absolutely fascinating!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Stuff?

    The intricate descriptions of the hoarders piles and piles of possessions and the complete case studies of each case given, so interesting!


    What about Joe Caron’s performance did you like?

    Very well read and never dull!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes and I pretty much did, i could not wait to get back to it when I had to put it down for a while, absolutely riveting!!


    Any additional comments?

    As the mother of a child who collects everything I found this so helpful to understand my adult child's thinking processes....it was monumental in our relationship!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie WASHINGTON, DC, United States 04-10-13
    Marie WASHINGTON, DC, United States 04-10-13 Member Since 2010

    Professional librarian type, amateur historian.

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    "Hoarding"

    This is a sympathetic look at hoarders, looking into the details of why they have difficulty getting rid of 'stuff'. There are several individuals and families the authors mention and they are a diverse set of hoarders ranging from well to do hoarders who have piles of antiques and artwork to urban cat hoarders and hoarders who live in squalid falling down homes.
    Listening to the book made me look at some of my own bad habits with stuff, material things (and electronic files), which is a different feeling than looking at the cable show "Hoarders". With the TV show I don't engage in self reflection and it's more like a freak show. Because the authors get deep into the 'why' and the struggles the hoarders grapple with, one can see small, but similar motivations in ourselves.
    The authors also demonstrate the problem with what most may consider the simple solution of just forced clean ups. They provide examples of failed clean ups and the challenges that are faced. I had to stop listening at one point because I was completely grossed out during one clean up story. If dirt, filth, rats, dead cats, poop, and roaches, lots of roaches disturb you, you may not want to listen.
    At the end there are resources mentioned to help people struggling or family members of people struggling with hoarding.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Bumgardner Kansas 03-13-13
    J. Bumgardner Kansas 03-13-13 Listener Since 2001
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    "It's about hoarding, only about hoarding."
    What did you like best about Stuff? What did you like least?

    I must have misread the description of the book as I didn't expect this to be only about the issue of hoarding. I was expecting a behavioral and sociological book about our culture's obsessions with objects. This is only about those who have a clinically diagnosed case, and only tangentially mentions the DSM as it relates to those who have tendencies toward the collection of objects with uncontrolled personal control.

    I rated the book a 3 because, as far as a story about hoarders goes, it was acceptable. The performance was impressive.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline 02-14-13
    Jacqueline 02-14-13

    .

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    "Needed: Compassion, not Criticism"

    Many case histories are covered here--about people who have attachment to objects- also called hoarding. I will never think of it in the same way.

    A three story brownstone occupied by two elderly brother's is the leading story in this interesting and informative story. Both brother's were found dead in the home.

    They were wealthy, and their home was stuffed full of the "normal" hoarding stuff, but also it contained very expensive items. Unfortunately, the home and it's contents had deteriorated to ruin over the years of inattention. Among the possessions there were 14 Grand Piano's and a Model T Ford.

    The author's have done extensive research into the curious affliction we call hoarding. It is so much more than lazy, dirty, uninteresting people. This is the image that comes to mind for most of us after seeing the Hoarding show on TV. However, there are underlying issues which must be considered in order to fully understand how people get to that position. It takes years!

    Anyone who has someone in their family, or knows someone who is a hoarder, would benefit greatly from reading this book. The author's delve into the mindset of these people and take their time in conducting studies to determine what happens in their thinking process. It is really amazing.

    I came away from this book with a much clearer and more sympathetic view of people who are hoarders.




    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sabine St Petersburg, FL, United States 12-20-12
    Sabine St Petersburg, FL, United States 12-20-12
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    "I think we are all a bit of a hoarder!"

    But these examples are extreme! LOL. This was fascinating. I love how the mind works and to see that with hoarders there is no real explanation. As fascinating as it was, I was very uncomfortable when I got to Chapter 11. This described my husband and I to a tee. It motivated me to tell him exactly what I think and that if we don't get rid of a lot of his stuff and get my house back to a HOME that I keep clean and LIVE in, some serious consequences will occur. He got the message. We are working on it. I will pass this onto others that I know have similar issues.

    It also gave me a different perspective on saving things...or collecting things. I am now afraid to do either. If it isn't used, get rid of it. Keep life simple, clean & neat.

    A good read that I highly recommend, especially if you suspect you live with a hoarder.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Elizabeth Hopkinton, NH, United States 09-24-12
    Elizabeth Hopkinton, NH, United States 09-24-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Good but could be better"
    What made the experience of listening to Stuff the most enjoyable?

    I found that the authors focused on a couple of stories of people and I would have been more interested in the variety of issues encountered with hoarders, and more on the treatment of hoarding (which they barely touched on).


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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