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Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things | [Randy O. Frost, Gail Stekeete]

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

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?
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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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  •  
    Rob Madison, WI, United States 06-25-12
    Rob Madison, WI, United States 06-25-12 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lots of Stuff About Stuff"

    By way of background, I have several hundred audio books in a wide range of areas in my Library. It is a pretty eclectic collection and I have enjoyed almost every one of them so I am, no doubt, a soft touch as a listener and review. I am deeply thankful for the reviewers who have the time, energy and ability to write thorough and insightful reviews. Sadly that is not me. What I can say is that I liked Stuff. It held my attention and I learned considerably more than I thought I would about a not so small part of our world. By the way, the narrator was excellent. It was well worth the credit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ava Knoxville, TN, United States 06-24-12
    Ava Knoxville, TN, United States 06-24-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Psychology behind Hording"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes!! Informative book on the psychology behind hording and a look at the differences in horders' brains vs. non-horders'.


    What did you like best about this story?

    True life examples and realness of people described


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzette P. Ferreira California 06-01-12
    Suzette P. Ferreira California 06-01-12 Member Since 2009

    Suzi Q

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    "Excellent!"

    I highly recommend this audiobook to anyone who is interested in hoarding, or suffers from it, or anyone in between. This book includes an interesting discussion about genetics and hoarding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandy Springfield, Illinois, United States 04-13-12
    Sandy Springfield, Illinois, United States 04-13-12
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    "Very interesting and educating listen."

    I downloaded this on a whim, when there was a buy one special. My gma always collected and her house was full, but clean, my dad, many of my aunts on both sides of the family, my sister and myself all collect different stuff. If you are a collector of "Stuff" or know someone who is, this is eye opening and educational, while telling true examples of hoarding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P K Rotterdam, Netherlands 11-24-11
    P K Rotterdam, Netherlands 11-24-11
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    "Gripping"

    I was gripped by the dramatic life stories of people who suffer from this handicap. Grim but well written and very interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa Indianapolis, IN, United States 11-12-11
    Teresa Indianapolis, IN, United States 11-12-11 Member Since 2007

    As a person with dyslexia, audio books give me the opportunity to "read" wonderful books that I would otherwise miss. Thank you for this fabulous service.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Now I know the WHY"

    There are hundreds of books that tell people how to lose weight, but until the person understands why they are overweight, what motivates them to over-eat, they aren't going to be successful at losing weight or keeping it off. The same is true of all the books on how to organize and de-clutter. This book gives the reader an understanding of why it's so hard for the hoarder to "lose those extra pounds" and keep them off. It's not just lack of willpower or laziness.

    In the same way that some obese patients gain back the weight they initially lost after bariatric surgery, the "forced clean-out" isn't successful for the true hoarder. Without understanding why they do it, they don't change the habits and lifestyle that caused the problem.

    I would highly recommend this book to anyone. I'm sure that most people will recognize and be able to understand some of the hoarding traits in this book in family or friends, and maybe they will recognize and understand a little of themselves.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Olson Denver, Colorado 09-18-11
    Nancy Olson Denver, Colorado 09-18-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Interesting insight into the psychology of hoardin"

    The author provides case histories of different hoarders which is something I always enjoy in a nonfiction pschological type book. It is well written and yo care about these people as they struggle with the odd form of obsessive/compulsive disorder.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Santa Clarita, CA, United States 08-11-11
    Christine Santa Clarita, CA, United States 08-11-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Fascinating explanation of hoarding behavior."

    I grew up in a house next to a pair of hoarders. Oddly, I now live in a house that shares a rear property line with another pair of hoarders. Both tended to derelict automobiles. This book offers the layperson tremendous insight into such behavior while at the same time admitting that hoarding is simply not a great way to live. The case studies are illuminating and fascinating. I too now look at my messy desk and sigh in relief.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Brookline, NH, United States 03-09-11
    Lynn Brookline, NH, United States 03-09-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not Quite"

    I think these authors struggled to find the balance between an academic piece of work, a self-help guide, and a case study approach to a fascinating illness. The book had moments of highly engaging and insightful content, but this lack of clear identity made it a less than stellar read. The narrator was also mediocre at best, monotonous at points and struggled with an attempt at a feminine pitch at times.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline Denver, CO, USA 02-14-13
    Jacqueline Denver, CO, USA 02-14-13 Member Since 2004

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.




    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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