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

Stuff by Randy O. Frost
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's review
Dec 31, 2010

really liked it

Why I Read It:

I love the shows Clean Sweep, Hoarders, Life Laundry, etc.


The authors come from an academic background so there is a slight text book feel to the work, but it is all punctuated with example after example. And the truth they find at the bottom of the piles is it’s not about the stuff. I think the common misconception people have when they see examples of hoarding on TV is just to throw it away. Getting rid of the stuff will not be a miracle cure. In fact on example from the book the city did just that with a court order. By that night the gentleman involved began searching the streets for more junk to put in his apartment; even filling it again within weeks.

What it comes down to is the relationship the person has with the objects, or the inappropriate meaning they attached to at. Everything becomes either valuable or possibly valuable and hence cannot be removed. For example, I might decide my grandkids will one day want to make forts out of old oatmeal containers. Now it doesn’t matter that I do not currently have grandkids, I might one day and they might want to make forts. I then proceed to save them and actively seek ones that others have thrown away. I also manufacture cherished future memories of love between possible grandkids, the fort building and myself. If I throw them away, or do not collect them, I am throwing away love. Now imagine that times every object that comes into your life, and I mean every object. It is crippling.

My favorite short example from the book is when the author was working with a patient and found a torn scrap of paper in her piles. On it was a handwritten telephone number, clearly several years old.
Dr: Can we throw this away?
Patient: No, it has a number on it.
D: What is the number for?
P: I don’t know, but if I wrote it down it must be important.
D: Can we call it to see who it is?
P: Not right now, but I will later.
D: When later?
P: Just later

Anyways, this is an endlessly fascinating book which will make you think. After talking about it with everyone I know (and you will want to as well), I came to a conclusion.

I f your reaction to it is “OMG I have too much crap in my house (life) and I need to get rid of stuff immediately,” then you are not a hoarder. You are just messy like the rest of us.

If your reaction is “at least I am not that bad so I am okay,” then you probably got a problem. Seek help :-)
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Luann LOL. Enjoyed your review. What if I had BOTH reactions after reading the book? :)

Charlotte Yours is the best review here. I am currently reading the book.

message 3: by Kip (new)

Kip Kozlowski I definitely had both reactions, as I do to the show--but I am a Gemini.

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