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Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding

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Buried in Treasures outlines a scientifically-based and effective program for helping compulsive hoarders dig their way out of the clutter and chaos of their homes.

Discover the reasons for your problems with acquiring, saving, and hoarding, and learn new ways of thinking about your possessions so you can accurately identify those things you really need and those you can do without. Learn to recognize the "bad guys" that maintain your hoarding behavior and
meet the "good guys" who will motivate you and put you on the path to change.

Features of this book include:

-Self-assessments to determine the severity of the problem

-Tips and tools for organizing your possessions and filing your paperwork

-Strategies for changing unhelpful beliefs about your possessions

-Behavioral experiments to reduce your fear of anxiety and fear of discarding.

192 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 2006

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David F. Tolin

7 books8 followers

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5 stars
171 (34%)
4 stars
172 (34%)
3 stars
117 (23%)
2 stars
24 (4%)
1 star
12 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 86 reviews
Profile Image for Geri.
10 reviews
January 17, 2009
"Buried in Treasures" is one of the best books I've read on the subject of compulsive hoarding. It's like having a therapist/professional organizer take you through the steps necessary to combat what truly is a genuine disorder (no pun intended). The author addresses many of the characteristics, cognitive dissonance and limitations faced by people with this illness, as well as those who suffer along with them due to living with or near a hoarder. While hoarding is not a new illness, it is becoming more prevalent simply because of the amount of "stuff" our modern society offers. It's not unlike an alcoholic who works in a bar. "Stuff" is there for the taking...and collecting.

Anyone who works in the fields of therapy, professional organizing, or professional housecleaning will gain valuable insight & step-by-step techniques to help clients with this disorder. Hoarders are a stubborn lot & require very specific strategies beyond simply clearing out the garbage, because it WILL return despite the best of intentions.
Profile Image for Mishqueen.
339 reviews35 followers
August 14, 2015
This book is pretty decent. It's written for chronically disorganized people, as opposed to a regular messy home or the mental illness of true intensive hoarding. It talks through the mental processes that hold you up, the reasons you hold on to things, and how to train yourself to think and feel differently.

It does not have cute organizing ideas, or photographs, or gimmicks. It has interview questions to ask yourself and worksheets to fill out. It is a book of counseling, psychology, and understanding. There is the occasional note to professionals and family members, but the majority of it is for the clutterer himself.

It is a good read if:
-You are your own worst obstacle (not space, or time)
-You are in over your head but still want to change
-You are so overwhelmed that you cannot take any initial steps

It is not for you if:
-you are highly motivated and excited, just looking for ideas
-you do not read extensive text (quite detailed)
Profile Image for Sally.
1,244 reviews38 followers
March 31, 2008
So far, so good. I can say that because I'm not a hoarder! And the better news is that I'm finally getting some insight as to why I can't stay on top of clutter.


I found the first part (the why) better than the how-to. There are any number of how-to organize books out there with better and worse instructions on how to go through your things and sort them.

The why of clutter is much more interesting, and a neglected discussion. I found for me, the qualities that contribute to clutter are: over-active ambitions (I think I can accomplish more than I really have time/energy for), inappropriate emotional attachment to items (write about it, figure it out, then chuck it or treat the item with respect), and plain old ADD. I semi-seriously wondered over the years of I could have ADD, but now I'm sure of it. I don't intent to "seek treatment" for it, but to know that's why I function the way I do is so enlightening! I can be more realistic with myself and gentler, too.

This book would be really helpful for loved ones of "hoarders" or "cluttery people." It is compassionately written and has several side-bars for family members and friends. Overall a really good book.
Profile Image for Marcia.
300 reviews4 followers
July 24, 2011
This book is about helping people with compulsive harding issues. If you have a family member with hoarding issues, this helps explain their way of thinking and how to deal with and help them. If you have hoarding issues, this is a very practical book to help you understand why you hoard and to overcome this addiction if you want to. If you aren't sure if you are a hoarder, this book will help you undersand yourself better and determine in a relaxed noconfrontational way weather or not you need help. It uses easy to understand language and has workbook type pages to help you do the quizes adn exercises necessary to overcome hoarding tendancies. I read it. I gave it to my mom to read. And I'm sending a copy to my sisters to read, because when someone in a family has a problem with hoarding, it can effect everyone.
37 reviews
December 15, 2017
As a professional organizer with experience helping clients (and also my own mother) who are "buried in treasures" and need help for their "compulsive acquiring, saving, and hoarding", I highly recommend this book for those wanting to get help and also for their friends and family who want to help them. It includes worksheets that can be completed by those wanting to do it themselves. It also contains extremely helpful tips for loved ones and those trying to help. Even as a professional trained in hoarding behaviors, I admit that while I can follow the tips for my clients and remain objective and professional with even the most challenging clients with hoarding behaviors, I have had difficulty doing so with my mother. The book admits that few will be able to do it on their own and it recommends that those struggling seek out support groups, therapists, and professional organizers trained in hoarding behaviors to come alongside them. I agree - and especially with my personal experience and failures with my mom - I will agree that it would be rare that a family member could take the place of a support group, therapist, or professional organizer when it comes to helping a loved one with hoarding behaviors.

I read this as part of my training and will keep it as a reference book.
Profile Image for Alison Brown.
39 reviews3 followers
July 15, 2016
The first workbook I've read for helping hoarders. Since I had already done a lot of the mental shift and physical decluttering before reading this book, it was a little difficult to assess whether this would have been helpful at an earlier stage. However, I do definitely think it's worth reading if you believe you struggle with hoarding but aren't sure how to proceed (and aren't ready to seek professional help)

My two concerns: the quizzes to assess whether you have a problem with hoarding are likely to under-diagnose folks like me who had serious mental challenges relating to stuff, but haven't yet acquired suffocating amounts of it
- The program requires significant methodical follow-through, perhaps more than many hoarders may be able to manage, at least at first.

I found the book by some of the same authors - Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things - to be more beneficial in examining my hoarding tendencies.
Profile Image for Kat.
15 reviews
July 17, 2013

I dunno about the "scientific" aspect of the authors' approach. But I do know that they ask the right questions, intelligently, and without soft-pedaling or minimizing the problems of hoarders. There's no "just get over it". They show a true understanding of the fact that when one can see fifty uses for an object, that makes it harder to get rid of it. And yet, they encourage the reader to live a real life, unencumbered by stuff and the false selves that the hoard can represent to the hoarder. There are lots of books about clutter, and hoarding. This one is better than most.
Profile Image for loeilecoute.
86 reviews5 followers
September 6, 2015
This is an interesting book for those who are interested in the topic of hoarding, a recent fascination of mine. Particularly interested in the psychological factors that predispose to this disorder, I have found limited resources for understanding. This book does provide some useful perspectives, especially using a self rating scale that helps to delineate contributing factors to the severity of the problem: See pages 21-23, The Hoarding Severity Scale. This measurement is particularly helpful because it attributes a score to three separate problems: 1. Clutter; 2. Difficulty Discarding; and 3. Acquiring. Generally, a hoarder has some component of all three, but is unique in how these factors interface with one another.

On pages 40-42, there is a process that allows one to analyze reasons for hoarding in a diagrammatic format that looks interesting.

On page 46, there is an 8 point questionnaire that evaluates potential for change, that actually could be modified and used to evaluate readiness for change with any behavioral problem, and is based on the research of Prochaska and McConnaghy: "Stage of Change in Psychotherapy". There are four potential states: pre-contemplation (only thinking about change); contemplation (preparing for change); action (self-explanatory); and maintenance (sustained change.)

The latter part of the text is a workbook, and of less interest unless you are actually using the process. As a therapist, I feel it would be very unlikely that someone with a hoarding problem using only this workbook would be successful into this stage. I do feel, however, that this would be an excellent workbook for a coach or therapist to recommend or even require as a commitment toward measurable change.

In general, this book is interesting, useful, but unlikely to create sustained change unless coordinated with some type of coaching and/or therapy.
Profile Image for Joyce.
404 reviews2 followers
September 19, 2014
Great book for a person that really wants to change. Read through it, now going back and working on the exercises. I will get my life back on track, thanks to this wonderfully written book with the guidelines to work through my mess.
Profile Image for Laren.
490 reviews
April 22, 2014
This book is written for a target audience of hoarders, but it does have some good information for someone who may have a hoarder in their life. The authors posit that hoarding isn't so much about holding on to useless stuff as it is a disorder with the brain's decision-making process when considering what to discard. Therefore the book breaks down questions that a person can ask (themselves or the hoarder in their life) to aid in that process so that the hoarder may begin to discard. I found the premise quite interesting, as I have never heard the problem explained in this way before. The concern is that this book will likely only work for a hoarder who is already EXTREMELY motivated to get rid of their clutter. Lacking an exterior threat, such as a landlord eviction, or looming condemnation by a health department, there may be little motivation for the hoarder to follow this process. It also appears to be very time-consuming, at least until the hoarder gets more used to the process, so anyone hoping to help a hoarder would also need to be really committed to the process in order to be of any real value. Still, it is the most valuable book I have read on the subject to date.
Profile Image for Anne.
2 reviews
February 8, 2017
Purchased this book to help us assemble a diagnostic tool for use by housing inspectors in our CDBG-funded Minor Home Repair program, to help seniors and people who have disabilities retain their housing and live as independently as possible. Symptomatic hoarding can progress to eventually pose threats to animals (pets) and neighbors, and it is a delicate operation to intervene respectfully and sensitively, yet with assertiveness and concern for the community as a whole. Though limited in its usefulness for the intended purpose, this book did provide context and insights for city staff which in turn helped us communicate more effectively with affected residents.
Profile Image for Amber.
55 reviews6 followers
December 2, 2008
Written for people whose hoarding has really gotten out of control. I was trying to find help for someone who is working up to a hoarding problem, but I don't think this book would be useful...yet. If the person in question took the quizzes in this book, I think they would be convinced they don't have a problem due to the lack of squalor in their home. My Mother In Law is an undeniable hoarder, though, and I saw her clearly in most of the descriptions in this book.
Profile Image for Maurynne  Maxwell.
676 reviews20 followers
August 24, 2011
A very well-written look at the possible causes and certain consequences of hoarding. I was able to recognize people I have known and know and also catch glimpses into my own quirks. This book allowed me to be more compassionate and understanding of myself and others and I hope I never get all the way to complete hoarder! But I can see that their therapeutic approach can help; slowing down and making decisions is really a good way to avoid clutter.
Profile Image for Dolly.
313 reviews35 followers
April 9, 2016
A depressing read mainly because it is a depressing subject for the family members of hoarders. The work is well-organized and well-written. It gives insights into why people hoard and why they are compulsive acquirers. I'm not so sure the suggestions for getting people out of the hoarding disorder will work. Some of the ideas sound helpful, at least to a non-hoarder. Not so sure a hoarder would buy into them. But I'm glad I read it and even more glad to take it back to the library.
2 reviews
January 20, 2019
This was very interesting to learn more about what hoarders are going on in their minds. There is more going on than just thinking that they can't throw things away and the assumption that they are poor housekeepers.
Profile Image for Caffers.
433 reviews1 follower
February 27, 2022
Kind of a workbook that I couldn't write in, as it was a library book.
I recognized some characteristics in myself, but a lot in people I know.
This doesn't offer tons of new ideas, but speaks to you in a calm voice, so that hopefully you might come to understand WHY. I like that it was a gentle approach, that it didn't get in your face, making you want to shut down because people are trying to change you and tell you what you need to get rid of. Instead, it helps us to understand why we acquire and save and have trouble getting rid of things.
I wish a couple people I know would get it from the library and read it, because I think it could be helpful. If you understand WHY maybe you can move forward.

Among other things, I appreciated the 'Thinking it through' list of questions to ask yourself about your things.
And the 'OHIO rule' - only handle it once.
Profile Image for Terry Collins.
Author 155 books19 followers
June 6, 2015
The workbook aspects of this guide to helping you (or someone you love) with acquiring, saving and hoarding do not translate well to the Kindle Fire, so if you are planning on using the information within to "work and make notes and affirmations," you simply MUST purchase a paper / hard copy.

Otherwise, a decent read, with excellent advice for dealing with a hoarder in your life (patience, patience and even more patience), and for hoarders who fall off the wagon of accumulated things (take a deep breath, and start anew). In summation: Not as entertaining as some of the other books on hoarders, but useful as a guide to navigating cluttered waters.
Profile Image for Vicki Boyd.
93 reviews1 follower
January 22, 2020
This may be helpful for those in initial stages of addressing hoarding disorder. Not helpful for spouse in long term marriage. Been married for 19 years. Finally moved out 4 years ago. Tried everything. Killing myself trying to stay ahead of hoarding. Sneaking garbage away to family’s cans to insure disposal. Went a year unable to eat at kitchen table. Exhausted.
My moving out changed nothing.
We are still married and spend time
together. Still enjoy each other’s company. He can visit my home. I will not visit his.
We will never again live in the same house.
Sad situation.
Profile Image for Laura Ostermeyer.
91 reviews2 followers
March 30, 2018
I've read many books on clutter and hoarding. All have a few bits of advice but none of them go into the depth of this one and also offer logical ways to modify the behaviors associated with it. This is a workbook styled book and, as such, really helps one dig in and figure out what your own issues really are and what you can do to successfully get past them. This book is very inspiring and not judgmental in any way. I highly suggest it.
Profile Image for Jef.
92 reviews14 followers
January 19, 2010
this book gave me insight into my acquiring, saving and collecting (i'm not to the hoarding stage as described here and elsewhere, but i do have more than a fair share of cds, dvds and books - can you have too many books?). i think this book would probably be useful to anyone who suspects s/he may have a little "too much" around the house.
Profile Image for Janna.
126 reviews
June 13, 2010
Recently I found out that a friend of mine was a hoarder, so I am doing some research to better understand the condition. This book was chock full of questionnaires to help someone determine whether they are a hoarder and to what degree. Would be a helpful resource (along with a therapist and professional organizer) for someone who wants to break free of the hoarding cycle.
Profile Image for LuAnn.
Author 14 books61 followers
July 24, 2011
Informative, but not as useful as any of the books by Peter Walsh on overcoming clutter. This books does get more to the heart of why people become compulsive hoarders, and there are lots of "quizzes" to see if you qualify, but from what I've seen of true hoarders, they would never buy this books to find out.
133 reviews
July 22, 2016
Really helpful practical recommendations for decluttering and de-hoarding. Don't know if it would work for really bad hoarding cases though. I gave it to the bad hoarding cases in my life and they're still in denial about being hoarders at all because "Hey at least we're not as bad as the people on Hoarders!" Still, this book helped me declutter.
Profile Image for Chris.
9 reviews
December 19, 2011
Awesome book on learning to be organized and overcome the "collecting" or "hoarding" tendencies we all have to some degree. I also felt it was super helpful in learning to overcome the habit of over acquiring "stuff". Very very helpful.
Profile Image for Judy.
394 reviews
June 3, 2011
This is a workbook to help people deal with hoarding. I think the authors are honest about the difficulty of treating this problem and have written a good manual for those who have the motivation (or will get motivation from the book) to succeed.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
35 reviews
August 25, 2011
If you are a hoarder, this is a quick read with helpful tools to help you get through making decisions and sorting through your stuff.

I enjoyed this book because I was able to learn and understand how the thought process of a hoarder can work.
Profile Image for J Crossley.
1,719 reviews11 followers
November 22, 2017
This is a good book for either those who are hoarders or those who have hoarders in their lives. It discusses the many reasons someone may have hoarding issues and presents ways that you can gain control of this issue.
Profile Image for Caitlyn.
49 reviews
September 23, 2017
Full disclosure- I am not a hoarder, I am a therapist who wanted to learn more. This book has a lot of useful exercises, and is written for someone who wants to stop hoarding, not so much the clinician. It is very informative and will certainly use this with clients who need it.
Profile Image for Rosie.
1 review2 followers
March 23, 2021

I haven't done it yet ha ha but they're right on the money in a compassionate and mostly gentle way.
Profile Image for JL.
68 reviews
November 2, 2022
I took this book out of the library for a couple of reasons:

1. To help me get a handle on my own possessions, especially papers "I may need some day", my huge yarn stash and other craft supplies I really would like to pare down. I've done it serially, like when I've moved or during the pandemic, but would like to pare them down further. I feel that there is a small possibility I could tilt into full-blown hoarding, perhaps without noticing, so it doesn't hurt to self-assess from time to time. I'm no spring chicken, so it would be nice to make things easier for my heir(s) to manage my possessions after my death or a move to a smaller facility or living situation.

2. There are hoarders in my life I really would like to provide non-judgmental assistance to, if nothing else, to provide physical labor to disposing, distributing or even to serve as a sounding board.

I'll admit I didn't do any of the exercises in the book & I did a fair amount of skimming to get the gist. I was heartened to find I'm not (yet!) a full-blown hoarder.

As some previous reviewers have pointed out, the book could be a great resource to professional organizers, especially those who previously focused on logistics and the tasks at hand, but haven't really explored the strong emotional elements of hoarding. This book really does focus on empathy for the hoarder, whether it's read by a helper or the hoarder her/himself.

I found myself, in the process of reading the book, thinking of the "low hanging fruit" in my house and just going ahead & disposing of it. I'm also even more aware of my own annoyance at "too much stuff" in several areas of my house & making plans to pare and get rid of more of it. I have a couple of hobbies for which I have a waning interest, so I've begun to plan a "last hurrah" effort to make items that may cross over into other hobbies after I have given that hobby up. E.g. --creating polymer clay buttons and dyeing yarn for my knitting projects. It's a no-brainer at this point to refocus almost solely on the stitching. This book served as a catalyst for this type of thinking.

I DO NOT think this book is something that will be used, step by step by a hoarder, using its forms and checklists. I think they would overwhelm a person who is so very emotionally attached to their stuff. But elements, once again, could be used by helpers, whether professional organizers or family members.

I really like their explanations as to how & why people fall into a hoarding situation (Again, great empathy!). I will talk about some of them that resonate with me. For example, there are certain possessions I find that are particularly comforting to me and give me a satisfying feeling of abundance...as long as I don't slip over the edge into overwhelm. These items are books and yarn.

I LOVE how the authors talk about one trait behind hoarding that makes paring down possessions very difficult--overcreativity! THAT I can relate to! Many hoarders are creative thinkers, which isn't always great for de-stashing. Ability to think of many uses for items makes trashing an almost impossible alternative to recycling & re-using. But will the hoarder ever get around to implementing that creative idea? (Asking myself that question helped me get rid of some recycled "craft supplies" I'd been hanging onto. Not every creative idea will be implemented!)

After reading the book, I found myself determined to tread lightly with a hoarding friend. I can't help her if I come across as judgmental, and instead, I'm looking for opportunities where she might ask for assistance with the physical labor or we might share paring-down activities together for items for which we share a passion.

The issue of hoarding is not only emotionally-charged, but it's a really complex situation to address. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy. And for this reason, I think the authors have addressed the issue admirably!
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