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The HoardersMaterial Deviance in Modern American Culture$
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Scott Herring

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226171685

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226171852.001.0001

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(p.85) 3 Clutterology
The Hoarders

Scott Herring

University of Chicago Press

This chapter surveys the role that professional home organizing played in the social construction of hoarding as a mental illness. It argues that organizers normalize the hoarder and present the hoarder’s lifestyle as a form of abnormal untidiness. Exploring how these organizers and their self-help books often treat hoarding as an addiction to clutter, the chapter claims that these professionals represent improper housekeeping as a mental illness once called Messy House syndrome or Pack Rat syndrome. Tracing how earlier worries over household hygiene influenced contemporary professional organizing, the chapter then charts how organizers depict excessive clutter as a moral panic over inappropriate household goods. Using the works of professional homer organizer Sandra Felton as its main case study, the chapter finally suggests that the beliefs of professional organizers have been embraced by scientific experts as both treat hoarding as a mental illness in need of assessment and cure.

Keywords:   hoarding, mental illness, housekeeping, clutter, hygiene, addiction, professional home organizing, self-help, Sandra Felton

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