TV's Hoarders is strangely mesmerizing, in the same way that a train wreck is...no matter how much you want to avert your eyes away from the carnage, you can't.
Over a year ago I watched my first couple of hoarder shows and it was obvious that people afflicted with this problem have some type of mental aberration that compels them to acquire, accumulate, salvage and save all that they can. It is a mental condition much like obsessive/compulsive, or bi-polar disorder or a number of other real and tangible mental conditions that affect humanity. Even with today's advances in medical technology the human brain is still a complex mystery and the cause of a number of mental disorders remains elusive.
The people in the first few episodes, a year or so ago, seemed more believable, more genuine, theirs was a problem that wouldn't, couldn't go away in just a day or two. They along with their therapist spent months trying to cope and get control over their obsession; this compulsion that made them cling to any and all objects, unable to discard or relinquish the smallest thing. At the end of the first few episodes the hoarder was still in a struggle with their disorder, their living spaces may have been cleared enough to allow for a semblance of normality in perhaps a room or two, but definitely not more and some were not able to achieve even that level.
With this past week's latest Hoarders episodes, the people affected were given time limits and ultimatums, doing all the things that psychiatrist said were counter productive in this disorder. Teams barged through the homes like a swarm of locust and in a short amount of time all garbage was tossed, all clutter ditched, things were cleaned up and the home returned to a habitable condition. Can it really be so simple?
It was during my first viewing of a hoarder's program that I realized my stepfather had been a hoarder. He was forever buying items at garage sales, liquidation sales, going out of business sales, as long as the item was at greatly reduced prices he could not resist the bargain and soon his basement storage area was packed waist deep in clutter; items stashed so compactly that it was impossible to gain access into the basement. Every nook and cranny of his small apartment was filled with broken phonographs that he wanted to repair, boxes of old LP records, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac. My sisters and I just laughed and said that dad was a pack rat but now I see it was really more than that. Once, while dad was away, the owner of the apartments, Tom, came in and cleared everything out of the basement...every thing ! Tom said it took two dump trucks to haul it all away. Tom and dad had been good friends for a number of years but when dad returned home and discovered the basement empty, he was enraged over the loss of his "things". It was a loss that terminated their long standing friendship.
To this day I wonder what would have happened if my sisters and I had the knowledge that we have today about hoarding. What would have happened had we gotten together and actually helped dad have that yard sale that he always talked about but never got around to having? Could we have intervened some how? Could we have made a difference ? In hindsight there are always so many more questions...so many more could've, would've, should'ves.
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