Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A+E’s ‘Hoarding’ Show

A+E starting airing a documentary a couple of weeks ago that grabbed my attention. Each episode follows two sets of people (one couple till now, rest are individuals) who are struggling with hoarding. In each segment folks must clean out their home or face serious consequences, like eviction.

The first segment (though editing intersperses the two) follows Jennifer and Rob, parents of three young children. Here mom’s described as a shopaholic and dad as a hoarder. Mom and dad need to clean out their home or risk losing custody of their children. The second segment follows an older woman, Jill, who has an excruciatingly hard time throwing food away so she rarely does. Her landlord has given her limited time to clean her apartment out or face eviction.

So a cleaning crew is paired with Jennifer & Rob as well as Jill to work with them for a few days to get their homes cleared out. Interestingly it seems only Jill gets a clinical psychologist during this time. It’s also Jill who we see carefully and slowly go through each food item one by one, while Jennifer seems to take the lead with the throwing party and consequently the cleaning out process is quicker at her home.

It was particularly difficult to watch some of Jill’s scenes, especially those focusing on the overflowing fridge with its multicolored liquids. Since though I have a hard time throwing things away (particularly school related items, books) I don’t have particular attachment to food so it was very hard for me to empathize with Jill – though I felt bad for her. It was during Hoarders’ last episode while I watched Linda and her assigned psychologist stand side by side as she threw old items away that I felt equally empathetic with both. I understood how patient a person needed to be to support a person through the slow process of throwing things away, and I felt the woman’s pain for throwing away items she’s become emotionally attached to.

I’m intrigued. I’ll be following this show.

Latest episode is viewable on A&E’s site. Update (10/25/2009): It looks like only deleted scenes are available now.

Read more about hoarding in this post.


mswsarah said...

i have yet to watch this show, but the whole concept of hoarding is interesting to me. personally, when my home gets a little messy because i am busy or not feeling well, it stresses me out and makes my living space feel cluttered. i am not a clean freak, i just think that having a semi-clean home makes you feel good on the inside---having tons of stuff lying around would just seem overwhelming. i can imagine that many people who hoard may not know where to start picking up after having years and years of clutter. i think this subject hits home right now because i visited a relatives home and since my last visit two years ago, it seems the things some may consider junk have piled up. it was hard to find a place to sit or walk in the home. it seemed like half the house was things that needed to be thrown out (old newspapers, magazines, ect). i just felt bad for my family because after a long day, it just doesn't seem like a healthy environment to be in. it set off my boyfriends allergies because of all the dust. i would love to help them find a way to manage their home because i care about them and think that a cleaner home would help reduce some stress in their lives, but don't know how to approach them because they may get offended or be extremely embarrassed. it's quite the dilemnna and that's not the worst case of hoarding in homes i'm sure. anyways, thanks for writing this post...i think it's something that needs to be further researched and documented so we can help clients with this issue if they would like (or desperately need) to learn to better manage their material home environment.

irun220 said...

2 things- 1. I am a case manager too for a supportive service program in central jersey and 2. My grandmother is a hoarder and the episode you referenced with Jill, was a replication of my grandmother almost scarily so. The scene with the pumpkin and her retrieval of the seeds was my grandmother. When visiting, I attempted to throw away a pomegranate she had for a year prior, she said she was going to use the seeds! We fought over items I was attempting to throw out and I think then I didn't really know of hoarding specifically but I knew something was askew. She'd always been a messy person, but when my grandfather passed, it really escalated and since that visit over a year ago, I haven't been back but I can only imagine. I came across your post while googling more about the show and how funny that a case manager's blog came up?! Best wishes in the field! It can be sanity-testing!!!!

Anatolia said...

This show does a fairly good job in revealing how complex it is to deal with hoarding for the hoarder and family and friends around them. Thanks for visiting and commenting Irun220. Best of luck to you too! :)