Not until my mother died last year, at 82, did I realize how much she had saved. Her attic, closets and drawers overflowed with Playbills and travel brochures; size two designer dresses from the 1960s; broken appliances; baby furniture; expense receipts and stock annual reports; scrapbooks and photo albums; magazines and newspaper clippings; and every letter, greeting card and announcement she had ever received. It was an embarrassment of riches—and of junk. My exasperation was tempered by a sudden realization: I was hoarding identical emblems of my past, from Playbills and newspaper clippings to ancient letters from almost-forgotten lovers.
So it was with both interest and trepidation that I picked up Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee’s new book, Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. To my relief, I discovered that my mother and I were rank amateurs compared with the pseudonymous subjects of this book, who live among clutter so overwhelming that they scarcely have room to walk, or eat, or sleep. Before treatment, Irene mixed empty boxes, expired coupons and old newspapers with photographs of her children, important documents, even cash. Pamela tried to take care of 200 cats, filling her house with excrement. Ralph stockpiled rusty, broken objects and stacked moldy newspapers so high that they threatened to crush him.
Q. How did you first become interested in hoarding?
A. My interest began with a simple question from a student. We were discussing obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the student asked, “Why are there no studies of hoarding?” I couldn’t answer. So we placed an ad in the local newspaper looking for a “pack rat” to interview. We got more than 100 phone calls. I was hooked.
This blog was created to keep you up-to-date on animal hoarding and large scale animal news and cruelty.
Because hoarding and OCD disorders often overlap, we will also list news and information related to these topics, and how these illness's affect the hoarder, their family and friends, but most of all the animals, that suffer... "alone in a crowded room".
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