Keeping It All

Many of us exchange gifts this time of year. But what happens when the receiver keeps both the present and the packaging? What does it mean when a person can't bring themselves to get rid of something most people would throw away? The clinical condition of hoarding has recently been highlighted on reality shows such as A&E's Hoarders. It is estimated that there are about six million people with the condition in the US. 

Jessie Sholl knows about hoarding. She spent her early years ankle deep in items most people would toss. Her mother was the one diagnosed with a clinical case of hoarding. Sholl has captured a sense of what it's like living with someone battling the condition in her memoir, Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean about Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding.

Dr. Robin Zasio is a therapist on the A&E show Hoarders. While most people don't fit the extreme cases highlighted on the show, many of us keep items at home that are of little use. Dr. Zasio has written a book based on her experiences as a therapist titled The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life. The book discusses the human impulse to collect and gives practical advice on how it can best be controlled.

A third book on the subject is titled Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by
Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. This book contains personal portraits of people living as hoarders. We learn about the consequences for their lives and for the lives of those they love. Frost and Steketee interview people with the condition to learn more about their desire to keep items most people would find useless. The authors also discuss the natural impulses that drive the condition and how these same impulses are present in us all.