Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

Frost, Randy O.

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
With vivid portraits that show us the traits by which you can identify a hoarder, Frost and Steketee explain the causes and outline the often ineffective treatments for the disorder while illuminating the pull that possessions exert on all of us.

Publisher: Boston [Mass.] : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010
ISBN: 9780151014231
Branch Call Number: 616.85227 F939s 2010
Characteristics: 290 p. ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: Steketee, Gail


From Library Staff

This modern phenomenon is explained, as well as the causes and possible treatments and fascinating cases.

Join professors of psychology and social work as they struggle to understand the inside experience of people compelled to save everything. You may see people you love or even aspects of your own character.

From the critics

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Apr 05, 2014
  • mati9 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book was very captivating. It held my interest throughout, from the fascinating case studies about real people who hoard BIG time to the insightful dissections provided by the authors about why people hoard. While it was frightening to see myself, or at least some of my thought processes, reflected in a lot of the people highlighted I also really came to appreciate what an agonizing ordeal hoarding must be for both those who suffer from it and those who attempt to treat it. Written to be extremely accessible, the authors have made this a very enjoyable read, and one from which we can all learn something.

Feb 23, 2014
  • sammier rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A very insightful read on the various reasons that motivate people to hoard. Set out as a series of case stories, the book covers the identification of hoarding behaviour and the treatment and intervention strategies available. It also discusses in depth the relationship between OCD and hoarding behaviour, as well as the points where they differ.

While the book is focused around cases of severe hoarding, I found that many of the points discussed would also be highly relevant to someone trying to deal with a standard sized clutter problem. Areas such as how our identity can be tied up in what we own, how belongings can bring us a sense of security and how the acquisition of items can be used as a means of avoidance all give pause for thought.

Sep 02, 2012
  • ksoles rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

As a minimalist who enjoys nothing more than purging and reorganizing her closets, the concept of hoarding intrigues me. What kind of people identify as hoarders? What does all their useless, unsanitary stuff mean to them? What impact does hoarding have on a family? What can someone do to break the vicious hoarding cycle?

"Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things" attempts to answer some of these questions by presenting fascinating case studies of real-life hoarders. According to Frost and Steketee, six million Americans suffer from hoarding though the compulsion is still a fairly new field of research. They argue that most hoarders had a childhood of disconnect and isolation and that an early absence of warmth and support leads them to form strong emotional attachments to possessions. Hoarders may cling to their stuff fiercely because of utility, opportunity, fear of error or perfection.

A gripping, non-clinical look at a complex and paralyzing disorder.

Aug 16, 2012
  • eliziarose rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This was a great book. It uses vignettes of hoarders to illustrate traits in common as well as variations within the disorder. One can also begin to grasp that the disorder could exist on a spectrum of varying severity depending upon both genetics as well as life triggers. Quite thought provoking.

May 10, 2012
  • Incinerated_Newt rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

An interesting book. It's a bit of a slow read and spends a lot of time hypothesizing about the psychology behind OCD and Hoarding, but it is interesting.

May 05, 2012
  • JudithE rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Interesting for a while.

Nov 13, 2010
  • krazyk rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

If you like the TLC reality show "Hoarders", you will like this book. It's a very interesting read. I would recommend this to anyone interested in psychology.


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