Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things
3 journalers for this copy...
The book opens with the story of the Collyer brothers, perhaps the best-known (and one of the most extreme - and tragic) cases of hoarding. [Other books on them include Ghosty Men.] The book moves on to modern cases, with the author going into the different causes and types of hoarding that may occur, with suggestions for ways to spot the signs and to try to cope with the problem - and with warnings against the temptation to simply step in and haul the offending "trash" away all at once, as this seldom makes a permanent change and usually causes severe trauma to the hoarder and to their relationships with family and friends.
Given the relatively quick treatments given these cases in TV shows like "Hoarding: Buried Alive", the more leisurely looks given here intrigued me - all the more when the author was able to provide interviews from several hoarders over years, with their thoughts about their situation, the feelings they had when urged to get rid of something, and what (if anything) helped them get a handle on their syndrome.
It seems clear that while several existing psychological problems (and some neurological ones) can contribute to hoarding, it doesn't have a single cause, and thus doesn't have any one cure-all either. Some of the patients responded well to basic organizational techniques, with some thought-exercises to remind themselves of how they wanted to live, while others - no matter how motivated - simply could not shake the urge to acquire and the inability to let go...
Hoarders are fascinating, though I can't say that I have watched an entire episode of Hoarding. I believe that hoarding is a psychological problem, since I was a psych major in college it sounds like an interesting read.
I think the part that really made me sad was the children who were hoarders. A two year old who picks up sticks and leaves outside and throws a fit when you throw them away. Another girl would 'borrow' a sweater from a friend and then in her mind it was hers. The girl would ask for it back and the hoarding girl would be angry because they wanted their sweater back. Most of the hoarders are older/elderly, but I think seeing the children who were hoarding made me feel a lot of empathy for them. Life is only going be more difficult for them if they continue hoarding and don't have any treatment/therapy.
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