Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Secret Lives of Hoarders by Matt Paxton

I have so little free time these days, that when I actually have free time, I don't know what to do with myself. I have a list of things I would like to do, but I can't decide between any of them, so I end up doing nothing. Not very productive. Plus I am still waiting for my final email from Pottermore so that I can actually enter the site. *angry face*

However, I did finish this book early this morning, so here is my review.


I don't like writing summaries of books, so here is a summary from Matt Paxton had a rough life leading up to the time when he created his business Clutter Cleaners, and began involvement with the show Hoarders. He dealt with his own struggles, which he believed help put in him a good place for helping people with other compulsive problems, such as hoarding. (He also has a podcast called 5 Decisions Away. I haven't listened to it yet, but I have a few episodes downloaded.)

This book is written as a sort of manual for helping hoarders with this problem. He outlines the necessary steps to take from the beginning stages of planning to what should happen after the clean-up, which can run from months to years. The interesting part of this book, though, is that he takes various experiences with other hoarders that he has worked with to fill in the gaps of information. He does not just give a list of things to do, bur rather draws from his own experiences and uses those to elevate the book into something much more engaging and interesting. I am a huge fan of the show Hoarders, mostly because it is intriguing seeing the things that they hoard. You lose a little bit from reading it as a book, but I guess having all the gory details is not really necessary.

As a reader, you can really tell that Matt Paxton does truly care about these hoarders and their situations. Having a personality like that is rare, I believe. But that just makes him one of the best choices for this line of work. If you have watched the show, you have seen that sometimes he gets angry, or gets in the face of the hoarder, but it seems necessary. He is usually right, as well, that he is there to help, and if the hoarder is going to resist, then he's just going to leave. And most of the time, that is not what the hoarder wants.

From my personal experience, I know that my grandpa is a hoarder. He had filled two barns, an old chicken coop, and his home with items that he has mostly bought from garage sales. A good example of his hoarding is that my mom said within five minutes of entering his barn, she counted that he had 20 ladders. As an aging adult, he really has no need for 20 ladders. I haven't been to his house in a long time, and I know that he is very reluctant to let anyone inside his home. We also feel that he has no desire to change anything. He is not a trash hoarder, however, so I suppose that is a plus.

I believe my mom also has hoarding tendencies. She likes to keep these random things that I usually have to tell her to throw away. Or the boxes of fabric and cookbooks that she has in her room and the basement. In the book, Paxton talks about the craft hoarders, who buy things like yarn and other supplies because they might need it at some point, or have all those plans to complete various projects. My mom does this. She will go and buy yarn with all these plans to make all these blankets and things, but she never completes the things she starts in the first place. Same with the fabric she buys for various quilts she wants to make. So in the end, most of it just sits around getting tangled and faded. I told her she needs to read this book so she knows what to watch out for.

And with one more generation: Me. I think that if I really had something horrible happen to me, I could probably end up doing this. But not with everything. I love books. I already have a large collection of books that is overflowing on my books shelves. While reading, I kept trying to put myself in the place of someone who would have to get rid of some of her books, and just thinking about it caused me to get uncomfortable. I realized that having to get rid of any of my books would make me feel really sad. I feel this way a little bit about clothes as well. I have several items of clothing that when I think about getting rid of, I think, "Well I might wear it sometime." And I never do. But those are the two major things I have a problem with. Luckily, I maintain that I have some semblance of self control when it comes to books and clothing. But now that I have finished the book, I realize that I should probably start making those changes now, instead of later.

Being that this book is so thought-provoking, it can help a person look into themselves and try to recognize any potential behavior that could lead to hoarding. And because this problem is so detrimental to other aspects of a person's life, it is important to notice if you have this problem long before anything gets out of control. I hope that more people will read this book and take away from good advice.