Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: Stuff, Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

I recently published a review of Buried in Treasures, Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding, by David Tolin, Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee, a hands-on workbook for those struggling with hoarding and disorganization. What led me to that book was a book I’d read a few weeks earlier, Stuff, Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee, two of the same authors. As a psychotherapist, I’m fascinated by all different types of minds, and differing ways of looking at the world. Hoarding, with its emphasis on and connection to the world of objects rather than other people, is one such difference.


Where Buried in Treasures is a problem-solving Cognitive Behavioral workbook, Stuff reads more like a novel. Its pages are peopled with the author’s examples of different type of hoarders, those who collect antiques, or animals, or even garbage. The authors present some data and facts, as well as theories and their own ideas about what drives hoarders. There is a chapter toward the end on getting help. But the true allure of this fascinating book is the chance to get to know the characters its written about. Although the authors present their own theories on what drives these individuals, you’ll see them in such detail you can come up with your own ideas and even see the ways we all have our own attachments to objects and our own hoarding-like behaviors. Hoarding may be an extreme behavior, but after reading this book, you'll think twice about the next grocery bag you save or the stack of mail on the front table.