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Dr. David Tolin, co-author of Buried in Treasures, is one of the country's leading experts on hoarding. He sat down with Sharyn to uncover the deeper psychological issues that could be contributing to her hoarding.

Dr. Tolin asks Sharyn how serious her problem is. "The highest number you can go to," she says. "And it's really, really gotten bad recently."

In the past two years, Sharyn says she's lost her brother and her sister. "I don't know if I'm trying to fill my life with things to replace the emptiness," she says.

"It sounds like you're trying to fill a hole, but the hole's not getting any smaller as you fill it," Dr. Tolin says. "In fact, I think I'm hearing the opposite, that if anything, it's getting bigger. You're feeling worse and worse."

Sharyn says her hoarding has taken away the ability to have her family and friends come over. "I'm embarrassed to even let my kids in here," she says. "My granddaughter is going to be 12. She probably hasn't been in my house in the past six years. And my grandson is gonna be 5, and he's never been in my house."

Dr. Tolin says that Sharyn has been defining herself as a good grandmother based on what she buys, not what she does. "They need you. They need a grandma who's present and can have them over and can spend time with them in her house," he says. "And it sounds like [you feel] the best way for you to show your love for your grandkids is to buy things—not even necessarily to give them—just to buy them, because you're thinking about them. But the thought doesn't make you a good grandma. The actions do."
FROM: Inside the Lives of Hoarders with Peter Walsh, Part 1
Published on November 15, 2007


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