Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee
Since I ain’t got the television reception here at Casa Unruly, I’ve never seen that Hoarders show. Hell, even if I had the television reception, I wouldn’t be watching it, because it would make me feel all itchy and stuff. Also possibly queasy.
I’m one of them “Let’s pitch out all this stuff I don’t use!” people. I’m occasionally heartless about it.*
This book explains why other people are not that way.
And yes, it’s interesting (and occasionally disturbing) stuff. And yes, it made me feel a little bit itchy. (I actually delayed starting this book until the weekend approached, knowing that I’d be inspired/compelled/driven to clean a closet. I have my own compulsions, yes, I do.)
This book is written by two psychology professors who have studied and treated hoarders. And they write about hoarders with a very nice blend of scientific observation and plain old compassion.
There are several interesting facts here, such as the fact that hoarders often cannot distinguish between the values of objects—so a magazine clipping seems to carry the same importance as a family heirloom.
Also, it seems that some hoarders fear that if something is out of sight, they will forget about it. (“Dear heaven!” went my thoughts; “Am I saved from this fate only by my [yes, rather compulsive] list-making?”)
The interesting thing that happened as I read is that I began to understand, and that made me a little less freaked out and definitely less judgmental.
Edumacation is a good thing, people. That’s the takeaway from that little revelation.
The very human and mercifully non-academic tone (and the truly academic insights) of this book make it a winner.
* I’m even pretty gutsy about weeding the home library. Unless a book’s a potential re-read or a sentimental item (hello, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden and Agatha Christie shelves and shelves), it’s likely to be hauled off to the library book sale. Kind of. (Actually, I’m exaggerating wildly. Those children’s mystery series books are my hoard!)