Book Review – Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

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

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

First, let me explain that when I ordered this book from the library, I did so because we have a hoarder in our family that I was hoping to help, or at the very least, to understand better. By the time the book was shipped from another library and delivered into my hot little hands, that family member had been cut out of my life for other reasons.

I figured I would read the book anyway, since I enjoy hoarding TV shows in a rubbernecking-at-the-accident way, and thought this might be entertaining as well.

Yeah…. not so much.

This is sort of a memoir of a person who has both treated and studied hoarders for years. It includes stories of the people in his case studies, but it’s much more sad and depressing than it is entertainment. Enlightening? Sure. But in a way that made both my heart and my head hurt.

This is less about horror stories and more about the significant mental illnesses that plague people who also suffer from hoarding disorders. It is academic, a bit dry in places, and a bit draggy in places. If you are interested in the psychological study of hoarding disorders, this is for you. If you are interested in different treatment approaches and how they fared among different patients, this is for you. If you are prepared for sad endings, stories of depressing childhoods, tales of abuse and neglect and marriages pulled apart, give this a go.

If you are looking for a fun horror story, a’la “Hoarding: Buried Alive” or “Hoarders” this is not the book you are looking for.

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