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Editorial Reviews

If upon first listen, Stuff sounds like a textbook for a collegiate course on Hoarding 101, well, that’s because Frost is a university professor and researcher. But don’t skip over this book — it’s the most fascinating college course you never took. Frost and his co-author Gail Steketee delve into the world of hoarding and the psychology behind the affliction by discussing case studies like Irene, a woman who has driven away her husband because she can’t let go of her stuff. It appears that Irene collects things at random — stacks of old newspapers and magazines, scraps of paper with telephone numbers, expired coupons, instructions to children’s board games. On deeper inspection, there are a number of reasons why Irene collects, like her possessions represent a connection to the outside world, or the act of collecting is a relief to her undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder. While there’s no one motivation behind hoarding, Frost and Steketee posit a number of theories — and debunk some of the more common ones (like the idea that hoarders were deprived of material things as children).
Frost’s genuine and friendly tone is confident and assured — not surprisingly it’s much like that of a college professor. You can almost picture him working the slide projector as he speaks, and must fight off the urge to take notes. He’s a natural storyteller, and draws you into his scientific world without you realizing it. You just know you want to hear more.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this book is listeners will undoubtedly see a part of themselves in each hoarder — we all collect things to an extent: sentimental photographs, old coins, bank statements. It’s not just voyeurism, it’s learning when the line of collecting blurs into hoarding. Frost has the answers, and plenty of questions. If you like A&E’s television show Hoarders, you’ll love Stuff. —Colleen Oakley
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Publisher's Summary

What possesses someone to save every scrap of paper thats ever come into his home? What compulsions drive a woman like Irene, whose hoarding cost her her marriage? Or Ralph, whose imagined uses for castoff items like leaky old buckets almost lost him his house?
Randy Frost and Gail Steketee were the first to study hoarding when they began their work a decade ago; they expected to find a few sufferers but ended up treating hundreds of patients and fielding thousands of calls from the families of others. Now they explore the compulsion through a series of compelling case studies in the vein of Oliver Sacks.
With vivid portraits that show us the traits by which you can identify a hoarder - piles on sofas and beds that make the furniture useless, houses that can be navigated only by following small paths called goat trails, vast piles of paper that the hoarders churn but never discard, even collections of animals and garbage - Frost and Steketee illuminate the pull that possessions exert on all of us.
Whether we're savers, collectors, or compulsive cleaners, very few of us are in fact free of the impulses that drive hoarders to the extremes in which they live. For all of us with complicated relationships to our things, Stuff answers the question of what happens when our stuff starts to own us.
©2010 Randy O. Frost & Gail Steketee (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"This succinct, illuminating book will prove helpful to hoarders, their families, and mental health professionals who work with them." ( Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By JoAnn on 10-06-10

Utterly fascinating

OK, I admit I was a big reluctant to start this book but couldn't stop listening once I started. The authors go through case studies of many adults and some children with various problems with hoarding and accumulation. The authors discuss the individual struggles, family struggles and public health issues with hoarding. They talk about how they got into the area of treating this disorder which had previously not been discussed much. They do talk primarily about how the disease arises from psychological factors, as opposed to neurotransmitters (for example), but do talk some about the biology and genetic factors around hoarding. This is not a "how-to" book with chapter by chapter approach to the illness but they also give advice on how they treat people with these issues and how to approach the issue on a community basis. They also give families and individuals advice on where to go for help. The main thing that fascinated me was how they could so eloquently describe the struggles that these people have with discarding their things which I never could have understood from watching a show like "Hoarders", for example. If you are at all interested in this topic, don't hesitate to get this book

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70 of 71 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Barbara on 08-24-11

I am a hoarder

I am a 74 year old hoarder, have watched the TV show and read a lot of books about hoarding, but THIS book is the first book that has really explored what is going on inside the heads of hoarders. It is not a "fix it" or a "quick solution" book, but rather it is an in depth study of how we are wired differently from other people. I highly recommend this book above all others for hoarders and anyone who wants to understand them. I am optimistic that understanding how my brain works will help me make my house more functional so that I can enjoy the pleasures that I had hoped I would have in it when I bought it.

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91 of 93 people found this review helpful

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