Emily's Reviews > Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

Stuff by Randy O. Frost
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's review
Aug 08, 10

bookshelves: nook, psychology, science, read-2010, read-2011
Recommended for: people who are into abnormal psych
Read from July 28, 2010 to April 01, 2011 — I own a copy

It's a little embarrassing how quickly and how much I got hooked on this book. I started reading it while on the job at a large and well-known bookstore, then started sneaking back into the psychology section every half hour to snatch a few more minutes of reading time. The next time you can't find a bookseller there, you'll know why. Since I couldn't stop thinking about it, I bought it that night and finished it the next day.

There are some subjects that I can read in big gulps like that, and abnormal psych tends to be one of them. Compulsive hoarding is one of those disorders that has become fairly well-recognized in the past few years, mainly due to Eyewitness specials and the like, and now we can add this book into the mix. That's where the embarrassment comes in, at least for me. Something about bringing mental disorders into the mainstream feels very exploitative, like we're all being invited to a zoo to point and take pictures. Frost makes it very clear that if you are, know, or live with a compulsive hoarder, there is nothing about the disorder that you want brought into the public light.

So much for my excuses. Stuff is a quick read, hard to put down, and really a very even-handed look at compulsive hoarding. Frost is a sympathetic researcher, focusing as much on the struggles and personalities of the hoarders as the disorder itself. He's not altogether averse to the odd "shocker" moment - take the first chapter, for example - but it's a pop psychology book, not a research manual. I knocked off one star from a five-star rating because it did end up feeling a little padded. There are plenty of repetitive sections that could have been trimmed down with a little more editing. On the whole, though, recommended.

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Reading Progress

07/28/2010 page 58

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