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Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things: 03/28/16

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost is a book about the reasons some people feel compelled to keep stuff even to the point that the things make normal living spaces impossible to use. If Frost's research is accurate, we all probably know at least one person with some sort of hoarding behavior.

The book opens with New York's most famous case, the Collyer brothers. I knew the gist of their story through how it was recreated for a rather depressing and disturbing episode of The Streets of San Francisco. Two bachelor brothers lived in the multilevel home built by their parents, not paying the mortgage, without electricity, in and amongst tons of crap brought in and saved. Worse yet, they had built booby traps (one of which ultimately killed one of the brothers). The clean up of their building required climbing through the top floor to throw things out as the weight of the junk had actually become load bearing over the years.

Hoarders who can afford to, buy or rent places to house their stuff. As one fills up, they just get another and start over. Those who can't, just live with their collections, often sacrificing self comfort and health for the stuff. Too much stuff can damage the very structure housing it. It can invite in vermin, mold, and other dangerous things.

Stuff though can't decide whether it's a series of biographies of famous hoarders (and their styles of hoarding) or a self-help psychology book that examines possible connections between OCD and hoarding. Frost's research has shown that sometimes OCD manifests in the ritualistic collection of stuff, rather than the more typical cleanliness concerns.

Three stars

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Comment #1: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 21:58:50


After reading this book a few years ago I cancelled all my magazine subscriptions. I was stacking them in the spare bedroom for the day I had time to read them. I still haven't tossed them all out. Throwing them away without reading seems wasteful.

Comment #2: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 17:32:58


I have two magazine subscription that come quarterly. I read them and toss them out. In the past though I have tossed out magazines unread. My house is too small to keep them about.

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