Hoarding

by Katy on February 8, 2010 · 16 comments

I don’t have cable, but I keep hearing about the different hoarding shows that are on TV, like A&E’s Hoarders, which describes hoarding as:

“Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder marked by an obsessive need to acquire and keep things, even if the items are worthless, hazardous or unsanitary.”

Luckily, Hoarders episodes are available to watch online, which I’ve only just now started browsing. These episodes are compelling, and with a goal that seems to genuinely be to help those suffering from this debilitating affliction.

The Learning Channel (TLC) even got in on the action with their Help, I’m a Hoarder special. Click here and here and here and here to watch a clip:

Hoarding is so sad, as these people are so overwhelmed and stifled by their excessive consumer goods. Hopefully, these television programs will help people to realize that they’re not alone, and inspire others to make positive life changes.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Terri February 8, 2010 at 1:43 am

Actually some hoarders do not buy excess. There are some that collect items that they find or others throw out. The idea of throwing things into a landfill instead of using it at later is too much to bear. It is such a debilitating disease for the people affects.

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365girl February 8, 2010 at 3:00 am

Hi Katy – I am a regular reader of your blog and also a sentimental hoarder. I have made huge progress over the last year but still have boxes of stuff going back 5 plus years that I cannot destroy. The reason for this comment is to ask whether any of your readers know how I can access the Hoarders clips/TV Show (I hope you don’t mind? – please delete this comment if you do). I have tried previously but for some reason (maybe as I am in the UK) I cannot watch it online… we do not have a programme like it over here – we did a few years ago and I watched it and it did help as I could relate to why they were hoarding and was also able to take onboard the advice given by the experts. Thanks x

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Laura from beautiful West Michigan February 8, 2010 at 7:03 am

I watch Hoarders and it makes me so sad for those people. They are unable to let go of their things, even if they are nasty, and some of them have seemed so depressed and sad. Some have begun or gotten worse because of a major loss of someone in their life. I do think that they get help if they want it afterwards, and they do get a nice startover cleanup. I also am more vigilant to clean up my little piles of stuff after watching an episode.

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Kayla K February 8, 2010 at 7:06 am

It is so interesting to consider the psychology behind hoarding. I don’t think it has to do with finding comfort found in owning consumer goods, but the fear of living without them.

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365girl February 8, 2010 at 8:34 am

This is my second comment on this subject – sorry but it’s kind of hit a spot with me! I just wanted to agree with a couple of the points mentioned by others. I am an anti-consumer (well I try… no-ones perfect!) I limit my spend and make do – I have old fashioned values, cook from scratch etc etc… however I have an irrational ability to attach sentiment to useless items such as receipts, cards, newsletters, car park tickets (paper items with dates on or have been drawn etc by children) – items that cannot be purchased. I know I do it and I even think I understand why I do it – but I still do it (although less these days). So to get to the point – hoarding isn’t neccessarily linked to consuming goods – I believe that a lot of hoarding really is of items with no value… I can chuck material items!

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AJ in AZ February 8, 2010 at 8:38 am

Watching it on TV is good, since so many people won’t believe anything UNLESS they see it on TV. Plus they will never encounter any information that isn’t dished out via TV. Can you tell I don’t own a TV?

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Katy February 8, 2010 at 9:05 am

A good website for hoarding information and resources is:

http://www.childrenofhoarders.com/bindex.php

And the best book on hoarding that I’ve read is “Buried in Treasures,” which really addresses the mindset behind hoarding. The creative mind sees potential and sentimental history in every object.

http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780195300581-0

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate

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365girl February 9, 2010 at 6:36 am

Thank you Katy, the book looks excellent and worth a read. My county library does not hold a copy so unfortunately I have to buy the book (oh the shame!). Thanks again…

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Karen February 10, 2010 at 3:59 pm

365, before you buy a copy, find out if your county library is a member of Link Plus, which allows users to borrow books from libraries outside their own system. Good luck!

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365girl February 11, 2010 at 3:24 am

Thanks Karen for the tip – I’m in the UK – do not think we have anything like that over here…. but will certainly suggest it! Thanks again

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Lisa February 8, 2010 at 10:44 am

“Hoarders” is one of those shows that fascinates. It’s painful to watch other people who are obviously suffering, but it’s impossible to look away. Part of the fascination, I think, is in knowing that we all have the potential to fall into the same trap (or know people who have). After watching each week I’m motivated to clear my space! It takes all the fun out of being a self-declared pack rat.

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Shannon February 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I know that many hoarders have OCD and similar disorders, but with some of them it just really seems like they are overwhelmed by the plenty in our society. What I mean is, some of them would have been really good people to know a hundred years ago, when resources were more scarce. I sometimes wonder if we all aren’t, to some degree, hard-wired to “gather.” As a people it’s part of how we survived. In our culture of plenty, be it food or stuff, it’s like we have to override our instincts.

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magdalena February 8, 2010 at 5:56 pm

There are hunters and there are gatherers! Maybe I’m blessed to be a hunter rather than a gatherer. I’ve blogged on this topic as a symptom of the spiritual disease affecting our culture, not just individuals. I have known, over the years, many hoarders. As a priest, I found them hard to reach because they are often very guarded, and ashamed of what they have accumulated. And some of the problem was me. In a hoarder’s space I have to sit on my hands and hear them out – rather than imposing my viewpoint of what’s wrong. Just having stuff isn’t the problem – it’s why they have so much stuff. I find “Hoarders” to be insightful, and is helping me to understand these people who end up as outcasts.

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Shannon February 9, 2010 at 6:02 am

Do you still blog? I find the topic fascinating too. So much so that I’m considering doing professional organizing as a career once my youngest is in school full time. My mom was a packrat on the road to being a full fledged hoarder when she died, and when she was living I used to joke with her that I’d get stuck cleaning out her house when she died. Well, guess what? The cleaning didn’t bother me at all, it was the heaviness of deeply experiencing how she lived that bothered me greatly.

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magdalena February 10, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Hi, Shannon, yes, I’m still bloggin’ away. You should be able to click on my name at the comment and connect. (Sorry, Katie, hope that wasn’t too shameless.)

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