Frost and Steketee's first subject is a woman named Irene. Irene, a librarian by occupation, came to them for help. She was in the middle of a divorce, and was afraid that her cluttered house would lose her custody of her children. The two authors spent much time with Irene. It became apparent that every item that she saved had some kind of strong association for her. Because she was an extremely social woman, Irene often kept these items because she wanted to give them to other people. In some cases, she thought the items could eventually become useful.
To Irene, every item represented an opportunity, either for her or a friend. Throwing away the item would destroy the opportunity, elimimate a potential life path. Since each item contained such potential, it was difficult for Irene to discard it because to do so would be to also discard a possible future. Frost and Steketee hypothsized"perhaps the idea of a potential opportunity...was better than the reality..." (p.37) Irene also had trouble sorting through mail because she became too involved into sorting it into categories rather than reading it or recycling it.
What I found interesting was that Irene could remember so many associations for the items that she saved. She apparently had an excellent memory, and was capable of creating a complex series of connections for the random objects in her house. By saving clutter, she was building a literal memory palace in her house or a giant scrapbook. The difference between Irene and the average scrapbooker is that she took it to an extreme, and didn't throw in funky colored paper, stickers, or little charms.