Note: This review first appeared on Amazon on June 11, 2009. I'm reprinting it to relate my progress.
"Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding" is for "collectors," of which I most certainly am one! If you are a "collector," you know you must solve--all on your own--this problem of accumulating too much stuff.
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.
Addendum: Several months have passed since I wrote this review. What I didn't mention is that I was stuck psychologically and emotionally after my divorce. I was mentally drained from verbal abuse. After five years I am finally "waking up" again.
Here's what I have done in my house. I have framed and hung pictures on my bare walls. I have scrubbed spots from my carpet. I have recaulked one bathroom that couldn't be used because the shower caulk had worn away. Did the whole floor while I was at it. In my other bathroom, I am finishing priming, painting, and adding accessories like handles to the drawers and doors. I've been prying them open with my fingertips for five years! I have thrown out so many boxes of old papers, tests, lecture notes, magazines. I have even discarded old, yellowed, books with missing pages. My house is becoming a home. And I am mightily proud!
Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)
- *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
- The Odd Women by George Gissing
- The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
- How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
- The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
- In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
- *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
- Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
- The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
- Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
- Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
- Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
- The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
- Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
- Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
- Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
- *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
- A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
- Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
- *Ruined by Paula Morris
- Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
- Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
- Silence by Shusaku Endo
- *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
- Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
- *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
- Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
- *The Giver by Lois Lowery
- *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski