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The Secret Lives of Hoarders: True Stories of Tackling Extreme Clutter

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  695 ratings  ·  113 reviews
On the front lines with extreme hoarders

The Secret Lives of Hoarders is much more than harrowing tales of attacking the ugliest, dirtiest, and most shocking hoarding cases in the country. It is a behind-the-scenes look at this hidden epidemic- what it means, how to recognize it before it gets out of hand, and how to deal with it.

Through his work with hundreds of clients in
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Tarcherperigee (first published April 12th 2011)
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Janette Fuller
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
According to a study by Johns Hopkins University,there are an estimated 12 million hoarders in the United States. Hoarding is not about how much stuff a person has. It's about how we process things. Most people can easily make decisions about what to keep and what to toss or donate, and then they follow through. A hoarder can't.
Matt Paxton, founder of Clutter Cleaner and star of the A & E Reality Show Hoarders, has written a book about some of his experiences working with hoarders.
"The Secret
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone having to deal with a hoarder in their life
Shelves: i-own
This was interesting but kind of got boring for this could be because I'm a faithful viewer of the show and have learned most of what he discusses from there...not sure. All I know is I went gung-ho into reading this one as soon as I bought it and it just fizzled out for me. Matt is a true pro in what he does and really cares about the people he works with and I give him a huge thumbs up for that!
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
Very dry. Too explanatory and not enough juicy tales. And the writing is clearly not great.

Well preferred Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things.
Diana Santoso
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this thinking I would read stories and anecdotes about hoarders. Who knows this is quite a deep book with a lot of insights to the minds of the hoarders, how to best address the problem, the techniques and sources he uses and applies in his works. Very interesting and also thorough!
K.M. Montemayor
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Behind the scenes

If you are a fan of the show, this book gives you a more in depth and behind the scenes look at what hoarders and their families experience. There are even follow-up at the end.
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was not what I expected. I guess I was hoping for more of the show, "Hoarders." I thought it was going to be stories about hoarders -- which there were some -- but most of it was about what to do with hoarders. The first quarter of the book was good but since I'm not dealing with a hoarding situation, the rest of the book lost my interest. BUT if you have someone in your life who IS a hoarder, this book is chock full of information and I would highly recommend.
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've never seen the TV show Hoarders, so I wasn't familiar with Matt Paxton. What comes through in his book, which describes how he helps people with hoarding tendencies, is how he treats them with respect and kindness -- all the while describing his techniques for helping them declutter for good.
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked this book. It talks about different levels of hoarding, and follows people who are at at some level of the spectrum, from what caused it, cleaning everything out, and their long-term results. There are also resources at the end. The writing style was pleasantly smooth, and it was an easy read; I admit to organizing more than normal while reading this book. 4*
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
An interesting, quick read. I like that Paxton clearly defines his company's process and their standards for assessing and assisting hoarders and their hoards without being sensationalist or judgmental.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is probably the ideal book for family and friends of hoarders.
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
The consensus of stars for this book on this site is about right (3.5). While not an in-depth psychological study like "Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things" by Gail Steketee and Randy Frost, the book is still very insightful and helpful in a practical way. It is also fascinating in the same can't-look-away manner all hoarding is: just when you think you have heard it all, along comes a gigantic rat's nest or another inscrutable reason to hold on to those decades-old junk food wr ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Two words come to mind for this book: helpful and realistic. The author draws from real-life examples as well as insight from a psychologist to discuss hoarding in terms of it being a mental health issue. Aside from providing thoughts on various possible causes, co-morbid disorders, and reasons for hoarding, Paxton outlines the necessary support elements that need to be in place in order to provide real, lasting help to someone who hoards. The book isn't all-positive; many of the various cases P ...more
Lauren Williams
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Compassionate, insightful author for a complex, painful subject

Matt Paxton found his life's calling by chance. But he brings endless passion, compassion, energy, a sharp ability to read people and even enthusiasm to that work - conducting the intensive deep cleanings that the homes of people with hoarding disorder often need in order to be able to reclaim the spaces safely.

This book is an excellent introduction to every aspect of the activity: the typical mindsets of people with hoarding disorde
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I’m not a fan of the show “Hoarders”, I read this book as someone with hoarders in my family.

Paxton obviously has a lot of sympathy for people suffering from compulsive hoarding but some of his advice frustrated me as it came close to “if you live with a hoarder you must let them do whatever they want and accept it”. Hoarding doesn’t just negatively affect the hoarder themselves, it is a form of neglect towards children, it harms families. He puts a lot of responsibility onto the families of hoa
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This guy gently and clearly looks at the issue of hoarding. He views those with the compulsion to hoard with such compassion and shares the insight he has gained in the trenches while working with these people and their families to win back their lives. I love how he always seeks to empower the individual with hoarding issues, intuitively knowing that they need to be in charge of their own change for it to stick. It is actually quite amazing. The book is uncluttered with jargon or academic infor ...more
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it, hoarding
This book was very informative about the ways to support a person who hoards as well as providing insight into how all of us can be slip into these patterns, as well as recover from them. As a therapist, I've always respected Matt Paxton for his compassion, insight, and the way he manages to connect with his clients, and it's great to get this view of his work away from the drama of television. There were great skills in here which I'll use in building my own therapeutic relationships.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
I got this at a thrift store because I'm a fan of the TV shows about hoarding, and it was worth the $0.49 I paid but won't be staying on my permanent shelves. I expected this book to be all about hoarders and the author's experiences in working with them, but it had just a few hoarding stories and was mainly information about how to work with hoarders and those close to them. Probably very practical if you're in that situation, just not what I was looking for.
I expected more nitty gritty of the hoarder stories. Give me filthy old hermits, toxic sludge, rat colonies, a corpse found under stacks of boxes. This book tried to be more psychological and analytical but those parts read like a high school term paper and the "case studies" were not what I'd hoped for, especially given that this book was written by a guy who has a reality show!
May 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I got about halfway through. Here's the thing. It was a library loaner that I apparently placed on hold, but I had no memory of doing that. I have absolutely no idea why I wanted to read this book and by the time the hold became available, I'd moved on. Nothing wrong with the book -- I just wasn't particularly interested.
Lindsay Merrill
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Strong 3.5 stars.

I've probably seen every episode of Hoarders and I am fascinated by the psychology of hoarding. This book was really interesting.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-books-2018
Fascinating read about hoarders and why they hoard. Quick read, but full of so much info.
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
A quick read and skim.
Cory Deckard
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Absolutely nothing disgusts me as much as hoarding.

Also, this book is not good.

Catherine Watson
I read this book for inspiration. I have a hard time getting rid of stuff too.
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, non-fiction
True life situations of hoarders as experience by the author. Great information and tools to use for those have a hoarder in their life.
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a very well written and informative book with good advice.
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Clinical case studies were superb. Advice useful.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting and fast. You really need to watch the show to understand everything he refers to.
Amy Holland
I'm kind of obsessed with those hoarding shows on TV, which makes me feel like a terrible person. When I watch those shows, I feel voyeuristic and judgmental, but I CAN'T STOP. And I think it's because I could totally see myself as a hoarder, had I made a few different life decisions. I guess I watch to remind myself of what I don't want to become.

And I guess those are the same reasons I picked up this book, although let's be honest - I was really hoping for more juicy, real-life details and sto
Kitty Jay
Somewhat embarrassingly, I had to dig under a pile of papers on my desk to find this book. The Secret Lives of Hoarders by Matt Paxton, however, does a marvelous job of explaining the difference between "messy" and "hoarding".

I have never seen the show Hoarders, which always struck me by the way people spoke of it as vaguely exploitative. I know a number of people who watch the show purely to motivate them to clean their houses, and to gasp in revulsion at the detritus that accumulates in a hoa
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