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Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

04 Jul 2010


Written by a psychologist for both psychologists and the rest of us, this was an excellent read. It is a collection of case studies and underlying theory for compulsive hoarders, which the author is attempting to make clear is a psychological condition unto itself. The book lays out treatment paths, success rates, and differentiates between some different kinds of hoarders.

Those are interesting, but the stories are easily the best. Rich twin hoarders, clogging the top floor of a hotel with priceless art. A family controlled by a violent nephew, who literally brings trash into the apartment daily. They live among vermin. A few success stories, which often begin only after a divorce based on the clutter. It’s fantastic.

Life histories, telling conversations. It’s very strange–it’s all very deep. Watching as people who cannot make decisions (the author posits that hoarding is an information processing deficit, being unable to determine what is unimportant) churn through stacks of paper, ‘sorting’ them, until they have put them all on top of a pile. Its a very intimate and non-judgement look at some people with real problems. I really enjoyed reading them–excellent non fiction.

Not much else to say when I don’t have complaints, is there?