04 December 2010


Stuff, by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee, was a fascinating read about hoarders.  Drs. Frost and Steketee have spent the last several years studying the phenomenon of hoarding among the American populace, and this book summarizes their research for the average reader.

The book offers stories of numerous hoarders, using them to exemplify different motivations and types of hoarding, as well as explaining different ways that are used to try to treat hoarding.  They also explore the psychology of those who hoard and seek to find commonality amongst sufferers.

It was a particularly fascinating read to me, as I was able to pick out traits of both myself and others I know in the reading.  One of the hallmarks of a hoarder is a certain distractibility when making attempts to sort things: they will look at one thing, start to remember something about it, or tell a story about it, which will then lead them to another thing, and another, and before you know it, they have spent the day talking about their possessions instead of sorting them.  I've noticed this tendency in myself from time to time, especially on the several occasions I've helped my grandma move house: every time I pack away an interesting item, I stop and ask about it, or show it to someone.

Another hallmark is an indecisiveness, an inability to accurately evaluate the usefulness of an item.  Couple this with an identification of the items as a part of oneself, and it makes getting rid of things extremely hard.

At times, the book was heartbreaking, when you would see how the problem - which is as hard to control as any other mental illness - has altered or destroyed people's lives.  There are numerous stories of spouses leaving hoarders, of family becoming estranged.  And yet, there was hope, as Drs. Frost and Steketee did list several cases where therapy was helpful to people - but only if they were willing to be helped, to make the effort to change.

Stuff truly did change the way I think about stuff, and it was an immensely enriching read.  I think I will read it again in the near future.


Books: Finished Stuff, started my annual Lord of the Rings month with The Silmarillion.

Bottles: None since the last.

Guitar: Working on "Hey You," various scales, and the new classical piece.

Writing: Wrote a little bit, only about two paragraphs, but at least I am easing my way back into the story.  I'm at a tricky point right now: I can tell which way the story wants to go but am having trouble committing it to the page.