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True Stories of Tackling Extreme Clutter

by Matt Paxton with Phaedra Hise

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-399-53665-6
Publisher: Perigee/Penguin

With reverent curiosity, Paxton shares the stories of hoarders from a distinctive perspective.

While digging himself out of the mess he made of his own life, the author, in a state of desperation, picked up a few cleaning jobs that lead him to an unexpected calling as a celebrated hoarding expert often featured on A&E’s hit show Hoarders. After years of working with hoarders, the author writes, he finally “figured out how to make sense out of their world.” He ushers readers into that world by sharing their stories. Take Margaret, who “had been hoarding so many years that her possessions had started to decompose at the bottom of her five foot piles,” whose home and possessions were “chewed or peed on by her fifty or so dogs that had free run of the place.” Paxton is quick to point out that he is not a therapist but works closely with social workers in an effort to assist individuals that are in some cases almost literally suffocating under their belongings and underlying tribulations. The author presents an easy-to-use scale that deviates from the National Study Group’s standard measures of chronic disorganization, helping his crew, as well as the reader, understand the various stages of hoarding. He then gives examples via case studies ranging from low-level to advanced or life-threatening hoarders. No matter how disturbing the situation is, he treats each of his clients with total respect, emphasizing that compassion is key in helping someone dig their way out. 

Delicately excavates the skeletons in the clutter.