Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding Paperback – Jan 25 2007
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"I would recommend this book to treatment providers, professional organizers and the compulsive hoarder. This book, if used properly, will guide the reader to clutter-free living!" -Patricia B. Perkins, JD, Executive Director, OC Foundation, Inc.
"The world's leading experts on compulsive acquiring, hoarding and saving have presented their proven, step-by-step treatment in a practical, easy-to-understand format that will be useful to anyone who hoards, as well as any professional who treats this problem. If you are looking for ways to clear your clutter, you need to read this book now!" -Martin M. Antony, Ph.D., ABPP, Professor, Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, Author, When Perfect Isn't Good Enough
"...[the authors] have been leading the way in documenting characteristics of sufferers and how to treat the condition...an excellent guide for therapists who have only limited experience in treating hoarding, as well as for those who treat other subtypes of OCD but not necessarily hoarding."--Cognitive and Behavioral Practice
"There are a fair number of self-help books out there on aspects of OCD. Buried in Treasures is among the best of them. People with a hoarding problem should definitely find value in this book. It also belongs on the shelf of many mental health providers because whatever population one is working with will have its share of individuals with this problem. I hope that, in future, the authors may bring their knowledge, experience, and excellent writing skills to additional self-help books on aspects of OCD."--PsycCRITIQUES
About the Author
David F. Tolin, Ph.D. is the founder and Director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at The Institute of Living, in Hartford, Connecticut. A leading authority on compulsive disorders, he has been interviewed for The New York Times and the Associated Press, and has been a recurrent guest on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Randy O. Frost, Ph.D. is the Harold Edward and Elsa Siipola Israel Professor of Psychology at Smith College. He is co-editor of the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation (OCF) website on hoarding. The leading authority on compulsive hoarding, he has been interviewed for The New York Times, Newsweek, and National Public Radio, and has appeared on ABC 20/20 Downtown, Good Morning America, and Dateline. Gail Steketee, Ph.D. is Professor at the Boston University School of Social Work. Her recent research, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, focuses on diagnostic and personality aspects of compulsive hoarding and on effective treatments. She and Dr. Frost have written the manual for mental health clinicians who treat hoarding problems.
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The authors emphasize that hoarding is "a problem of emotional, mental, behavioral, and social well-being" and that "some scientific evidence suggests that there may be a genetic component to hoarding". It is basically a description of the treatment program that they have developed over many years of treating patients at their hoarding clinic. While the book discusses the physical side regarding sorting and purging as well as the stopping of the acquiring, its' emphasis is on the mental/emotional side of hoarding.
As opposed to other similar books, this book is based on science and ongoing clinical research. The book is essentially a guide to change and the authors note that "people start to work on their hoarding problem when the reasons for change outweigh the reasons for not changing, and not a moment sooner". Their suggested treatment is based on CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) which is solution focused.
This is somewhat of a workbook. It includes many exercises to help the hoarder to consciously change their thinking. Some examples are a self-assessment test in the chapter "What is Compulsive Hoarding?", a hoarding severity scale that is very similar
to the NSGCD Hoarding Scale, Visualization Exercises, Category & Location lists and questionnaires such as "Comparing Your Perceptions with Those of Others".
Early in the book, the authors introduce and discuss the Bad Guys: 1 - It's Just Not My Priority, 2 - Letting Unhelpful Beliefs Get In Your Way, 3 - Overthinking or Confusing Yourself, 4 - Avoidance and Excuse Making and 5 - Going for the Short-Term Payoff. Then they introduce the Good Guys: 1- Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize, 2 - Downward Arrow, 3 - Thinking It Through, 4 - Behavioral Experiments and 5 - Developing the Right Skills. The authors revisit the Bad Guys and the Good Guys again later in the book when dealing with motivation and "taking on your brain".
An interesting observation noted by the authors was that when hoarders attempted to sort their own items, they tended to have lots of little categories but when sorting similar items that belonged to other people, they were able to sort into a few large general categories. This suggests that when dealing with their own possessions, "their emotions get in the way and cause them to process information differently".
As a Professional Organizer, I consider this book a tool. It is not a `how to' that a hoarder could pick up, read and follow to a successful conclusion. On their own, most hoarders are just not capable of following some of the suggestions, such as, "you might want to think a step or two ahead"! However this is an excellent book if used as part of a larger treatment program.
I work in an outreach program and periodically we come up against a person struggling with this problem. There are other things going on but we discover this aspect usually during a home visit.
There are other titles that address this topic but I have found this one, by David Tolin, to out-distance the others. Why? Because it is a workbook approach first of all, and secondly, it addresses the underlying feelings of those who deal with this in a workable way.
We sit down with the individual and get them started on the book. We then process the insights they have had during the reading. By then they begin to feel a spark of hope that they can manage the compulsion.
One huge asset to this book is that he includes a significant chapter on 'acquiring' and what to do about it. The philosophy behind the need to acquire stuff is fascinating. Once there is an understanding of the need there is motivation to shift and change it.
This book has made a difference. Wish it had been around earlier!!
Oh yes, it would be wonderful to have someone come in and help you make all the stuff disappear, as the team on "Clean House" does. Sort it in bins, then discard, donate, sell--yep, the way to go, except, Mr. or Miss Collector, you cannot put it in any bins except to keep it. Right?
That's where this book comes in--it actually breaks down every argument your pesky little mind can throw in your way to de-clutter. I won't go into details, but my severe acquiring and cluttering developed as a result of divorce. I literally could not touch anything to put away or discard. It had to just sit there, taking up space, keeping people away. Someone volunteered to help me organize, but the thought put me in panic mode.
"Buried in Treasures" is helping. Writers David Tolin, Randy Frost, and Gail Steketee name the condition as compulsive hoarding and stating that overcoming the problem is hard work. They define three conditions for hoarding:
1. Accumulating, then having difficulty getting rid of things of limited or useless value,
2. Clutter that limits or prevents the use of living spaces in the manner for which they were intended,
3. Both the clutter itself and discarding the clutter cause distress.
In order for the hoarder to address the problem, he/she must understand the causes for hoarding, the results, and reasons to change. Hoarding did not happen overnight nor will the clutter disappear overnight. Reinforcement through repetition of information and self-help tests interspersed throughout the book force the reader to think and respond, think and respond.
The authors show the hoarder how to begin discarding through information: strategies, lists, categorizing, flowcharts, agencies that will accept your discards, setting up filing systems, rules, everything, anything that will help begin the discarding process.
Here's an example of treating one aspect of hoarding: Making decisions. Easy for you? A hoarder will pick up something, not be able to decide what to do with it, and put it back amidst the clutter for a decision later. A decision has two parts: make a decision, then follow-through. So, how does a hoarder follow through? A whole list of questions is provided for handling each item. Tedious, you say? The point is to get past the point of getting started.
Getting started: Obtain bins for trashing, donating, and keeping. The point is to have the "keep" bin the emptiest. The second step is to set a specific length of time every day to de-clutter until the clutter is gone, whether one hour or fifteen minutes. Make a schedule. Follow it.
The book is very helpful. At least, I have started the process and have thrown out several boxes of stuff in the last week alone. It's a beginning, whereas I was stuck in time before this book.
Thank you, Tolin, Frost, and Steketee. Your book is itself a treasure, but it's not buried.
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