Sunday, December 14, 2014

Robin Zasio: The Hoarder in You (2011)

Robin Zasio's The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life  (Rodale, 2011) dovetails holistically with a series of other books I've read over the past few years, ones that cover existential philosophy, finances, savings, positive thinking, psychology, sociology, anthropology, ecology, and on and on. Worthwhile all down the line, and surprisingly consistent.

Zasio's tone is low-key but also firm. She approaches hoarding and cluttering as part of a continuum spectrum. Just as most everyone may have a touch of obsessive compulsiveness, so most people may tend to have issues with clutter, if not outright hoarding, at some time or other. (By the way, whether this is mostly a modern American phenomenon, I'm not sure: "we live in a land of plenty," Zasio notes on page 124, so there's less of a need for stockpiling duplicate items, for instance. Unless you're a survivalist, I suppose).

Zasio includes several psychological concepts ranging from cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), generalized anxiety disorders, cognitive distortion, and biopsychohistory. Indirectly, she brings in what could be considered the idea of cognitive dissonance and the philosophy of existentialism (freedom, responsibility, individual choices made).

"People who hoard often script the future, but the script is typically not a realistic prediction," but rather a "cognitive distortion," perhaps one of many (page 21).

"What spaces in your house [or apartment, etc.] are not usable for the purpose for which they were intended?" (page 97),

I particularly love Zasio's profiles in chapter 4: "Clear and Clean;" "Neat But Dynamic;" "Controlled Chaos;" "Clutter Crisis;" "Borderline Hoarding;"and  "Collecting Versus Stockpiling."

Cognitive therapy and philosophical dynamics: if your decisions are based mostly on emotion, verify, challenge the idea that "I feel it, therefore it must be true" (page 104). Be vigilant against "all-or-nothing"  aka "dichotomous thinking."  Look for contradictions in thinking (yours or others), which force a beachhead of gray area, a middle ground of reality. Challenge "anticipatory anxiety," "distortions," "catastrophizing" and "emotional reasoning." These are usually, in the contemporary USA at least, "maladaptive" behaviors. Other things to watch for: "habituation meets procrastination," perfectionism that leads to decision-paralysis, and inertia.  Also: "You can be both lazy and have mental issues . . ." (page 17).   

One of the main thrusts that Zasio's The Hoarder in You has in common with the slew of other books mentioned earlier is the concept of mindfulness (here it's on page 145, for instance). Attention must be paid -- to the here and now as well as to the past and future. As far as quantity of stuff goes, put a cap on it, man! (page 165).  

Today's Rune: Harvest. 


Barbara Bruederlin said...

This book sounds fascinating! I am actually more of a wannabe minimalist, but have an offspring and a spousal unit who are both of the hoarding persuasion, and for entirely different reasons. I find that dichotomy to be fascinating.

Charles Gramlich said...

Other than books and student tests I don't have a lot of clutter.

Anonymous said...

Erik-I could be described as the opposite of a hoarder, but I find the mentality of a hoarder so interesting for some reason!