What possesses someone to save every scrap of paper that’s 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? Or Jerry and Alvin, wealthy twin bachelors who filled up matching luxury apartments with countless pieces of fine art, not even leaving themselves room to sleep?
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 explain the causes and outline the often ineffective treatments for the disorder.They also illuminate the pull that possessions exert on all of us. Whether we’re savers, collectors, or compulsive cleaners, none of us is free of the impulses that drive hoarders to the extremes in which they live.
For the six million sufferers, their relatives and friends, and all the rest of us with complicated relationships to our things, Stuff answers the question of what happens when our stuff starts to own us.
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HMH hardcover 2010Previous ISBN 978-0-15-101423-1From the Back Cover:
New York Times Bestseller"Gripping . . . by turns fascinating and heartbreaking . . . Stuff invites readers to reevaluate their desire for things." —Boston Globe"Authoritative." —Wall Street JournalWhat possesses someone to fill warehouses with unread magazines? Or to pack a house so full that clearing it out must be done from the top down—lest the upper story collapse? When Randy Frost and Gail Steketee became the first scientists to study hoarding, they expected to find a few sufferers. Instead, they uncovered a startling epidemic. Now, they distill the results of more than a decade of research into a series of engrossing and intimate case studies. Through towering piles on sofas and beds, vast mountains of paper that the hoarders "churn" but never discard, even a nest of more than two hundred cats, Frost and Steketee illuminate the pull that possessions exert on all of us. Probing the disquieting place where normal and abnormal blur, they answer the question: What happens when our stuff starts to own us?"Fascinating . . . A good mix of cultural and psychological theories on hoarding." —NewsweekDr. Randy Frost is Professor of Psychology at Smith College and an internationally known expert on obsessive-compulsive disorder and compulsive hoarding, as well as the pathology of perfectionism. Dr. Gail Steketee is Professor and Dean at Boston University in the School of Social Work. Together they have studied hoarding for more than a decade, and published a clinical treatment manual and a self-help handbook for hoarding. They have appeared on numerous television and radio shows and given hundreds of lectures on the subject nationally and internationally.
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