Buried in Treasures

Hoarding is a big topic at the moment. There are many very popular shows on TV devoted to the subject. I have mixed feelings about these programmes that delve into such a personal aspect of people’s lives. However one thing they do achieve is to help us understand that hoarding is a complex issue. A common aspect of the participants in these programmes seems to be a sense of hopelessness and helplessness in the face of too much stuff, and the difficulty of changing the situation that caused it to accumulate.

The best book I have come across on this topic so far is “Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving and Hoarding” by David F. Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee. These authors are leaders in the field of treatment for compulsive hoarding and acquiring.

This book starts out with a definition of compulsive hoarding as follows:

1. You accumulate, and then have great difficulty discarding, objects that most people would consider useless or of limited value.

2. The clutter is so severe that it prevents or seriously limits the use of living spaces in the manner for which those spaces were intended.

3. The clutter, acquiring, or difficulty discarding causes significant impairment or distress.

The book explains some of the specific challenges that compulsive hoarders face, such as problems with paying attention to a specific task, problems with categorising like objects, difficulties with decision making, having overly creative ideas that are not carried out, and problems with memory.

It also highlights commonly held beliefs and thoughts that can be problematic, such as belief about usefulness, waste and responsibility, perfectionism, excessive sentimental attachment to objects, taking an identity from things, and the need for safety and control.

The information about compulsive hoarding is backed up by lots of useful tools. There is a self-assessment exercise that clarifies the scope of the problem, and useful advice and tasks for addressing specific issues in turn.

If you struggle with compulsive hoarding, I would strongly recommend that you take a look at this book, because it is written for you and to you. It is presented in a respectful and understanding tone. Most importantly, it generates a sense of hope that compulsive hoarding can be named, understood, and worked with. These qualities, respect and hope, can sometimes seem in short supply in hoarding situations, and I think they are the greatest gift of this book.

The links to the book are affiliate links with Australian online store Booktopia.  A small percentage of the purchase price is paid to Live Light if you buy the book through this link.


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