Thursday, January 20, 2011


Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of ThingsCurrently, I am reading Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost and Gail Stekette. So far, it's good, though it's funny to read a popular book based on academic research. I want to know about sampling, study design, and p-values! I considered skipping the chapter on animal hoarding but decided to read it. It was quite tame, and a little disappointing. I don't know if the authors were trying to sanitize the issue or if it is truly because so little research has been done on that particular aspect of hoarding. I think I wanted more about the impact of animal hoarding on the animals themselves. The case study they used for the topic seemed so outrageous, I think it belies the seriousness of the issue. I wondered if that chapter was included due to an editor's insistence. But I digress.

I'm very fascinated by hoarding, and watch Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive, even though I feel the shows are exploitive. George referred to one of the shows recently (I think comparing my behavior to that of a person featured on the episode). I asked him which one of the two shows, and he replied, "You know, the one that actually tries to help people." By that he meant TLC's Hoarding: Buried Alive which is a longer, more thoughtful process-based intervention than the dramatic (and likely destructive) weekend cleanup depicted on Hoarders on A&E. In an interview with Salon, Frost takes both shows to task.

Do you secretly (or not-so-secretly) watch these shows? Do you know a hoarder? How has it impacted you? interview with Randy Frost.

1 comment:

  1. I don't watch those shows, but I do find the problem of hoarding interesting.

    It gets hammered into us a lot that things have value; after all, we have to trade value in order to acquire them. That makes it a lot harder to keep the mental perspective that empty space also has value.

    If I'm sorting through things, asking the question "Do I want to get rid of this?" or some version of that just doesn't work very well. I think because it frames the fact that I currently have something of some kind of value and puts it against not having it and that's obviously a step backward.

    It's been a lot more effective for me to think about something more like "Would I still want this in my life 5 years from now?"


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