I’m in the middle of reading Stuff: Compulsive Hoarders and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee. Randy Frost is a professor of psychology at Smith College. Gail Steketee is a professor and dean of the School of Social Work at Boston University. Both have treated many hoarders, and they draw on their work in this compelling read.
It never ceases to amaze me how often senior move managers encounter hoarding-type issues with their clients. For the longest time, I believed hoarding was truly unusual behavior, but Randy and Gail dispel that notion. Estimates vary, but they say the disorder likely affects roughly one out of every 30 Americans. Who knew? Not so unusual after all. Here’s the part I find most interesting: One of the key motivations in hoarder personalities is the desire to maintain information. The authors believe hoarding is related to a sense of wanting to acquire and preserve opportunities. As an information enthusiast myself, I get it. Don’t we all want to preserve our options, and keep tabs on our opportunities? Some of the authors’ conclusions really crystallized hoarding for me in a new and thought-provoking way. Opportunities aren’t tangible, and they can’t be neatly stored or packed away. Most importantly, unlike Waterford crystal and first-edition books, opportunities don’t hold their value. Carpe Diem.