Monday, May 16, 2011

Secret Lives Of Hoarders

According to a study by Johns Hopkins University, there are an estimated 12 million hoarders in the United States. Hoarding is not about how much stuff a person has. It's about how we process things. Most people can easily make decisions about what to keep and what to toss or donate, and then they follow through. A hoarder can't.
Matt Paxton, founder of Clutter Cleaner and star of the A & E Reality Show Hoarders, has written a book about some of his experiences working with hoarders.
 The Secret Lives of Hoarders: True Stories of Tackling Extreme Clutter is a first-hand account of how Mr. Paxton and his team help hoarders deal with the "stuff" in their lives. He does not dwell on the details of the clutter. He explores the causes of hoarding and the solutions to overcoming this problem. Mr. Paxton explains that hoarding isn't a character flaw. It's not laziness or forgetfulness. It's a mental disorder. The author works with therapists and psychologists to gain knowledge about this disorder. Mr. Paxton explains the five stages of hoarding and has identified the following kinds of hoarding;
  • The Animal Rescuer
  • The Information Junkie
  • The Shopaholic
  • The Do-It-Yourselfer
  • The Collector
  • The Food Saver
  • The Clothes Hoarder
  • The Memory Keeper
  • The Trash Master Compactor (Bags of trash that never get taken out to the curb or recycle items that never get recycled.)
The author explains exactly how he and his team approach a hoarder, work with the hoarder and his family, actually clean out a house and the process of staying clean. There is an excellent Resources section at the end of the book. The author lists organizations, top treatment centers, support groups and additional books to read.

I Think This Book Is Informative, Fascinating and Enchanting BECAUSE....
it gives a well-researched, comprehensive overview of a growing problem that society tends to sweep under the rug. I was very impressed with the sensitivity that the author displayed in dealing with this complex issue.
After reading this book, I am much better prepared to deal with my own hoarding tendencies and hopefully be a help to others who are dealing with this problem. The real-life examples that the author presented demonstrated that this is a problem that touches all ages and socio-economic groups. The follow-up reports on people that the author has worked with shows that not all stories have happy endings. Sometimes the hoarders go through the clean-up process but are not mentally ready to stop hoarding. Mr. Paxton is very realistic and honest about what has to happen before real change can take place.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who might be struggling with this issue in their own life or dealing with the hoarding of a loved one.
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