Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hoarding: When the stuff we get gets out of control

By Angela Hill

Clara's apartment was always a little cluttered, but manageable, with things that were special to her: a collection of rocks and crystals, hundreds of vintage ashtrays from San Francisco restaurants, dozens of dragon figurines in honor of her Chinese zodiac sign. There was a time when she took pleasure in dusting these items, rearranging them, adding to her treasures, enjoying them with friends who came to visit.

Gradually, sometime during the past 25 years or so, these special things got lost. They're still in there somewhere, in the one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco's Cow Hollow neighborhood Clara shares with her longtime partner. But now, the friendly, articulate 69-year-old retired bank employee who usually ends each conversation with a perky "Toodles!" can no longer see her treasures for the mountains of junk — sheer Everests of books and boxes and papers and bags, clothing and cookware, old VCRs, computer parts and just plain stuff...." More