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Jane Brogan

Jane Brogan
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I am a wife, mother of 3, RN, and all for truth, not sound bites. I have Lupus, and several other autoimmune diseases and a stroke survivor. I am a very cheerful, optimistic and happy person, and always try to look for the best in the world! Also, I am an unapologetic liberal. Progressive ideas are what made this country and what continue to move it forward, without progress, we wither on the vine!

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Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 17, 2010 9:20AM

THERAPY FROM 'HOARDERS'

Rate: 26 Flag

A & E’s show “Hoarders” has presented quite a challenge for me. It chronicles people who have OCD(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) which manifests itself through the person’s hoarding-it could be food, animals, trash, or anything that fills a space. The filling of space seems to be the object-it fills some void in the person’s soul that only possessions can seem to fill. My mother was a hoarder. I see pictures from years ago, before I was born and I see an almost sterile looking home. In the pictures there is no clutter and wide open spaces. My mother developed an interest in antiques when I was 3 years old. Later that year, my oldest brother was killed in a car crash. My family essentially self-imploded. One of my brothers left home a few months after my brother’s death, another enlisted in the Navy. Another brother got involved with drugs. The youngest of the boys was in high school. My sisters were 11 and 9 when my brother died. But my mother’s way of dealing with her loss was to become an ‘antiques’ collector. In reality, what was collected was mostly junk. I think my Mom went from being OCD- clean to being an OCD-hoarder. She was also a child of the Depression, so that tendency to hold onto things harkened back to a very poor childhood.

My whole childhood was spent listening to my father complaining about the ever-increasing piles of junk to my mother. My mother’s response was that this was her hobby. I guess I realized that my house wasn’t normal about the age of 10. I would fret about the dust and dirt. I think I was the only sixth grader who would run home from school to clean. I kept the living room, dining room, kitchen and bathrooms sparkling. I had a sense that it wasn’t the normal thing for a kid to worry about. Also during this time, my one sister got involved with drugs and the other got married at age 18-to escape our house! My mom started doing flea markets twice a week. During the summer, I was forced to go with her and help, even though there were no prices on things, the booth was overflowing, and there were outhouses for bathrooms. Yes, Mom would say it was her stuff, but I had to live with it, and also work with it. I did an accounting of her costs and what she took in at the flea markets, and she didn’t even break even. Her ‘hobby’ was an ever-consuming need. The need was only visible in the piles of stuff that kept getting larger and larger!

Something funny would happen every time there was some crisis-either my brother or sister having to go to drug rehab, or some nasty argument between my mom and dad-more stuff would appear. So much stuff that the basement had filled up- then the den, the attic, and the garage were completely filled to the ceilings. It was hard to stake my claim and keep my room from being overtaken. My mother would buy pieces of furniture-say she was going to resell them, and they would end up in my room or my sister’s room. Decorative style in this house was many pieces of furniture lined up along every free spot in the walls-and sometimes the furniture was placed in front of other furniture, or stacked on it. The drawers of the furniture became junk drawers for the smaller ‘collections’. Do you know how many silver spoons can fit into one drawer?

When I was in college, I was desperate to escape the house. Yet, I was also  very protective of my mother. My father dragged us all to family counseling. He complained about the lack of space and the difficulty in cleaning, my sister and I had the same complaint. The idiot therapist backed down from my mother and said it was my mother’s house, she should be able to do what she wanted. No consideration that it was my father’s house, also. No consideration for my sister’s and my feelings-in other words-put up or shut up. I shut up, but I also stopped cleaning obsessively. There was no such term as hoarding back in the 1980s, nor was it recognized as a form of OCD.  I was just the girl from 'that' family that had all of the crap in the yard! 

It is hard to explain the conflict that lives in a child of a hoarder. In one sense, I would have these fantasies of getting the house completely clean and making my mom and dad very happy. My mother would always complain that we never helped her. If we tried to straighten up, she would complain that she couldn’t find anything. We were never, ever allowed to throw anything out. She would check all of the trash to make sure we didn’t get rid of anything! She was always quick to say that it was HER house and HER things, but there was some cognitive disconnect between caring for HER house or HER things. She had never claimed any responsibility for the massive pile of junk that accumulated in the house, the yard, the garage-even cars left in the driveway would get boxes placed in them. To vacuum and dust was a major undertaking. There were knick-knacks everywhere. Mom would also complain that most of the stuff wasn’t hers, but she couldn’t even say whose stuff it was! The den and basement were floor to ceiling and wall to wall stuff. There was furniture, boxes, books, dolls, china, and my mother’s specialty-linens. Do you know how much mold and mildew linens acquire in a damp basement? Let’s just say that many people entering the house would turn around and leave. It took me a long time to come to terms about not helping my mother, and realizing that there was no helping her. It was a war that no one could win!

When I got married and moved to my own home, Mom proceeded to fill up the areas I had always kept cleaned-the living room, dining room and kitchen. My dad also divorced my mom at this time-after 43 years of marriage. He just couldn’t take it anymore. Dad was 72 when he joined the Peace Corps and was sent to the Solomon Islands. He was thrilled to have one suitcase to carry all of his possessions. I guess spending many years of your life walking in an obstacle course would make the lack of possessions a real big plus! Around this time, my mom also received a notice from the township about all of the junk in the yard. The yard got cleaned up, then inevitably it would fill back up until the township would complain again. In my Mom’s eyes, it was the neighbors’ fault for notifying the township-she never got that what she was doing was wrong and unsafe!

Mom continued to collect ‘antiques’ and she would also visit an estate liquidator on a weekly basis and bring home more ‘treasures’. Thanks to my Mom I do have an appreciation of quality furniture and antiques. Thanks to my Mom, I struggle on a daily basis to not accumulate items. I do throw many things out, I have a small pile(2 boxes) of ‘treasures’ in a spare bedroom, and you can walk through the rooms in my house without tripping. But I am always on the lookout for holding onto ‘things’.

Mom has Alzheimer’s now. She had built up a cocoon of belongings in her surroundings, keeping many away from her cocoon. Now the cocoon is around her mind. Her bedroom, living room and hallway are not as cluttered as before because Mom needs to use a walker to get around. The house is still there. The township visits on a regular basis to make sure the outside is clear. If the inside got checked, the den and cellar are still wall to ceiling junk.

How do you explain the mental illness that is hoarding? It can be so heartbreaking, intolerable, and damaging to your psyche. I love my Mom, but I still harbor so much hurt that her love of stuff trumped her love of her children, her grandchildren, and especially my Dad. I am finally realizing that Mom didn’t make a choice-it was just her way of coping with life. Watching “Hoarders” is bittersweet for me. The show does what I wish had been done for my family many years ago!

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Oh My, My heart goes out to you. I watch that show all the time and can really relate to all the emotions that come from that kind of situation. It is definitely a disease. My mom has the ocd of keeping things too clean. Nothing is ever moved or out of place and it is exhausting and isolating. But I know I am very lucky not to have the opposite problem. And the denial that anything is wrong amazes me.
I think you have grown up very strong in all of this. Sometimes watching another person's journey into mental illness helps us keep clear. I hope your mom can someday be cared for in an institution. I have helped many older people come out of a cluttered isolated environment and live in a nursing home. As the social director my job was to make them comfortable. Some calming pills and a few social parties and they would come out of their shell and actually sing along with the music programs sometimes.
I also moved in with a little hoarder lady. We cleaned the best we could after we got her under control with some antipychotic medication. She lived until 99 years old and was cared for in a clean bed with three nice meals a day. She knew something was wrong but was fuzzy about it all. One day she looked up at me and said "Thank you, I know I need a little help." Modern medicine and love.
I watched a 5 hour marathon the other day. I know people like that and they are family and every year I go home and try to sort it out. Not as bad as the show but still.
Wow.. my heart is so sad reading this
Rated with hugs
Thanks, Zanelle! It is really tough because my siblings can't agree on anything. There are a few clear spaces in the house now, but the rest really needs to be emptied.

Linda, I watch 'Hoarders' with a compulsion. I guess in my mind, it is a solution to the many times I would clean up the house in my mind!

Thanks for your comments!
I'm not sure why I feel a little better about my house today...that and the comfort of knowing Linda sat for 5 hours in front of the tv the other day. I'm feeling great!

On the hoarding though...the first time I entered a house in hoarder condition (the only time actually), I called a couple of friends to come over and go back in with me - it was too much to take in just winding through the habitrails of ceiling high crap by myself. It was a singular moment of amazement and disbelief. I had no idea things could get that bad, but what was crystal clear was that I was looking at mental illness. What a story you've shared...tough to watch and harder to have lived it.
Gabby, we always had a joke in our family that there was a missing meter man in the basement who was never found! It is sad, but I think being aware that this can happen keeps me on my toes! Thanks for your comments!
It is hard to maintain a sense of balance in the midst of someone else's compulsion. You sound as if you managed better than most kids would have. I dread the day I have to clean out my parents house--altho my mother has confined her stuff to the garage and closets, it is still too much!
Mypsyche, my mother-in-law passed away earlier this year. We had to go through her stuff. It was a daunting task as she was a shopaholic. Most everything was confined to the closets and 2 bedrooms, which wasn't too bad. When it is my Mom's time, I have no clue with what will happen because my siblings all have the 'best' way of dealing with the junk-ignoring it! Thanks for your comments!
Do you think writers become can become hoarders? It's a fear I have.
That show makes me get busy cleaning like a bat-out-of hell. Thanks for your article.
tg within, whenever that show comes on I always glance around my house with a very critical eye. It is usually on Mondays when they show several episodes. Tuesday is our trash day and it always makes me go around and throw things out! I guess if you were a writing hoarder, it wouldn't be so bad. It is essentially saving writing on a computer! Thank you for your comments!
done w clarity and such feeling r
Jonathan, thank you for your comment!
It is so terribly sad. "Now the cocoon is around her mind." My heart goes out to you, Libmomrn...~r
Joan, thank you so much! My mom was a really strong person, but her way of coping with stress was collecting stuff. I am most saddened by the what ifs.
I knew someone who was a hoarder, but for years I simply thought she was just a junkie person who cared little about her surroundings. My once husband also had a knack for "collecting". I never gave it much thought until a new awareness of hoarding came about. In looking back, some of our worst arguments were when I disposed of some of his things. Just goes to show, you never know what haunts people or how they find a sense of comfort.
What a beautifully told tale of a very sad situation. I am aware of hoarding tendencies in myself and have taken great care to keep everything clean and in control. My husband shares my love for "stuff" so we both have to be doubly on guard. So far so good. We know where everything is and our house is very clean. We have a lot of things but no clutter.
I wish you every good thought in keeping your own life in order and thank you for this thoughtful post. highly rated
We have a friend and neighbor who is a hoarder - well, she has a lot of other issues as well, but the hoarding is the thing that strikes her friends (like us) the most. I think she has been able to come out of it, a little way, and give up a portion of the c**p that she has collected ... but, on the other hand, I haven't lately seen a couple of the rooms in her house...
I have hoarding tendencies myself, but fortunately, those tendencies center around books. For which I have a series of good excuses...
I was so touched by your story. I watch the show and think of my mom. She's not exactly a hoarder but she's close. She grew up in the depression as well and you can tell it in the things she does. She doesn't hold on to anything old unless it has a particular memory behind it. Having old stuff means you're poor - being able to buy new shiney stuff means you aren't. She periodically purges stuff - even if she's just bought it.

Mental illness runs through her father's family and it's really hard to watch her. It's frustrating because she refuses to see that a lot of her problems are her own fault. She alienates people because of imagined ills. The list goes on and on.

I want to help her but I just don't know where to start. Most days I can barely speak to her.
Fay, it is such a strange condition. My Mom was the strongest person I know, she had been through so much, yet when any of us tried to reason with her or even sort things, she would go crazy. I am sad only because of all that might have been-I guess life is like that-dealing with the reality instead of the might have been! Thank you for your comments!
Rosycheeks, thank you for your comments and good wishes. It is a struggle sometimes to keep everything in order, but my kids and my husband help me a great deal!
Sgt. Mom, I do have a lot of books. But I made a deal with my husband when we cleaned out a spare bedroom. If I read it, I donate it. If I loved reading it, I can keep it. Of course I have a bookshelf that is close to capacity. But I have been pretty good about getting rid of some of my old favorites if I had some new favorites! I can also justify keeping lots of stuff, but I have to watch that tendency closely! Thank you for your comments!
Cooking in the sticks, I think our respective moms had the whammy of growing up during the depression. I know that impacted my mom a great deal. It seemed that any loss she suffered brought her back to her poor childhood. I guess the best we can do is love them, even though it can drive us crazy! Thank you for your comments!
Sounds like my father-in-law. His weekly routine is to spend Saturday night at the hick auction in a mountain town 45 miles away from where he lives. Seemed like a harmless activity for him since he is retired.

Except ...

He friggin' always buys something ... actually several somethings. Sometimes it's a nice gesture for a family member, but mostly, he just finds "a steal!" and has to buy it.

After years and years of doing this, he decided to unload his treasure trove and pocket (in his mind) a ton of cash by holding a weekly yard sale.

Reality has finally hit home. He's sold about $75 worth of crap -- from an entire summer of weekly yard sales.

Now I only hope that he stays alive long enough to unload all of his crap for many more summers -- people can live to 120 years old, can't they?

(R)
Craze Czar, I have nightmares about having to sort a lot of my mom's stuff. There are some valuable things, but it is mostly trash. My siblings have a great way of dealing with it-they ignore it, or say yes, we need to clear out some things, and then never follow through. My mom always had an inflated idea of what her treasure were worth-but not based on any reality! It is tough for family members to deal with this disorder just from the sheer visibility of the mental illness!Thanks for your comments!
I watch "Hoarders" too. I never dreamed that things could get so out of hand. I've seen junky houses (compared to ours -- my family tilts toward the clean freak extreme) but nothing like what I see on that program. It is very serious for all involved.

Lezlie
Lezlie-it is serious-because everyone around you has a huge physical reminder of the mental disorder. My mom was one of the strongest people, yet I am most saddened by what she had missed out on because of the barriers that she built! Thank you for your comments!
your acceptance is a kindness. reading this was very sad. my mom was schizophrenic. she'd clean in mad spurts, but mostly didn't. every so often I'd clean the house, top to bottom. but that stopped after a while because nothing I did changed anything. I understand your frustration, love and sadness. i wish for you and your family, peace. thank you for sharing.
ps. I HATE that fucking show. our culture is so goddamned jaded. it's not a kindness to passively watch these people struggle, to see their animals living in their own feces, with vermine crawling through it, the filth and mold and fire hazards in their lives as an amusement, an evening's entertainment.
Foolish Monkey-I hate watching reality TV. I was so compelled to watch this, though. I guess my own experiences made me continue to watch. My mom thankfully didn't hoard animals, I understand that is a truly sad thing to see. But, I guess when the therapy and clean up works for someone, I feel like that could have happened for my family! Thanks for your comments!
There's a useless, unattractive piece of furniture in my mother's kitchen doorway. I suggested once she get rid of it. She looked at me like I'd suggested putting blue nail polish on her nose and said, "Well, what would be there then?"

Um. Space to walk into the kitchen?

She has hoarding tendencies but not like a classic hoarder.

My own kids said if I ever got like that, not to worry. They'd just come and shovel it all out and throw it away. (Well, ok, I think I heard my son say something about burning the house down but I'm sure he wouldn't.)

The thing that I seriously don't get is how the people living with hoarders abdicate control over their environment and responsibility for it so thoroughly. I work with a family member who has hoarding tendencies as a part of a congenital disability and also is primarily influenced by my mother. It requires constant vigilance to control.

It's a mental illness but it's also progressive and has elements of habit. I suppose it creeps up on family members until it's too far gone to control but there seems to be some serious passivity enabling it.
Oh, Libmomrn, I didn't mean any/i> criticism by what I said. I can't imagine what it would be like for a little kid to grow up with that and I do sympathize with you.

I also feel a little safe because of what my own kids said which I take as a sign I'm not a hoarder. (You're always the last to know, of course.) My problem is books and I never let myself buy them any more. Hardly ever.
Well written and heartbreaking. My first husband was/is a hoarder and over the years I have gone over and packed up 10 bags of trash and thrown it out when he wasn't home. My poor son has had to live with it but he doesn't seem bothered by it very much. My ex-husbands hoarding got worse with age and stress. He really didn't hoard before he was 45 or so, but something triggered it and he is very OCD now at age 59. He is re-married, I don't know how his wife is dealing with it right now.
I cannot believe this. I have dealt with the same problem in my family.

Then there was that cable program wherein people whose house was full of stuff actually hit the wall and in desperation hired a crew to help them clean out their own house. The premise was then that we watch this crew help the couple by toting the stuff out onto the front lawn and dispose of it in various ways..
Nerd cred-It is tough when you are a kid and your parent exerts their control over your environment. My safe haven was a friend's home whose mother had OCD-but the clean type. I spent a lot of time there as a teenager! I like books, too! Thank you for your comments!
Brassawe-I really don't like watching reality TV, but I am compeeled to watch this show! I guess I am reliving some of the same arguments that we had with my mom, but this time, there was a different outcome. If you notice, even when the stuff is moved, the hoarders cannot make a logical decision to throw much out-even if it is all bug-infested or just trash! Thank you for your comments!
Deborah Young-it is sad when someone you care about(or even cared about-past tense) has this disorder! In watching the show, many times it seems that a death or other major life transformation occurs and triggers the hoarding tendency. I equate it to filling up the hole in their souls! Thank you for your comments!
Oh Lib I still am afraid to see the show...there but for the grace go I... a tragedy like that could send most people into some kind of anxious turmoil. How sad...It could have been another addiction...I am so glad that you are dealing with all of this pain...I will keep this post as reminder to myself.
This is a heart breaking read. I have to process this before I can even say anything more substantial or intelligent.
Snarky-it is really funny but other than the hoarding my mom was great. It was so sad to see the obvious disconnect between her and her environment. I guess that is what made it so crazy. I know things could have been much worse, she could have been an alcoholic or child abuser. I always said that she missed many things because of the things she surrounded herself with! Thanks for your comments!
Cartouche-thank you for your comments! It is really ironic, but writing this has made me feel so much better about things. I guess it was good to get it all off of my chest!
I live with a borderline hoarder... my son and I have to throw things away when my husband is at work..we often put things in the neighbors trash cans because he has gotten to where he checks ours to see if we have ... it is a nightmare sometimes His mother has it as well.. It is not to the level of the tv show but only because my son and I keep things from going over the edge
I've seen the show and it is inconceivable to me and heartbreaking that you had to grow up in an environment like that. I know someone that I believe is a burgeoning hoarder and she is in total denial that she needs professional help. Thank God she doesn't have children. My heart goes out to you. This was an important story to share. Thank you.
White and black-it is a challenge to live with someone with this disorder. I am glad you are able to keep it from becoming overwhelming. Thank you for your comments!
Gerri-I was lucky in my mom wasn't abusive or neglectful. It was just that her things took on much more significance than her relationships. Sad for all that she had missed! Thank you for your comments!
Mental illness is a horrible thing. My heart breaks for your mother, and also for how her hoarding/illness impacted your family. People always seem to find a way to cope.... many times not healthy ways. We are just built in to survive, I guess, even if our coping limits our life and kills us in other smaller or slower ways. I can see how hoarding happens--and that scares me a little. So afraid of this, that like you I guess, I relish discarding. I get a little high when I get rid of something, even when it's something I might need. I have a desire to have a comfy home with things I love around me--and to have sterile flat clean minimalist spaces. Sometimes I get stuck so I do nothing at all. I'm kind of there right now. Thank you for sharing. Lovely and sad essay.
Renee, it is funny how the mind copes in time of crisis! I only wish we could have gotten her to see the light! Thanks for your comments!
I'm so sorry! I cannot even read all of this and hope for the best. R - for sure.
Rated. I too have lived with a hoarder but it is my brother, not my mother. He is also a shopaholic-for things like compressors, coal-burning stoves, tractors...I bought him a run-down house (he was going to fix it up) 8 years ago and, well, things just get worse (but at least I don't have to help deal with the evictions). At 51 I doubt he will change. I haven't been inside his house for 5 years- he is able to keep the outside yard looking halfway decent so avoids government intervention- so far. The house is over 100 years old and I fear it will collapse with the weight of his junk.

I'm sorry that your siblings don't agree on what to do at this point as you will need to deal with it eventually. I live in under 500 square feet in Hong Kong with one tiny wardrobe (no closets) so I am ruthless about never buying anything (except the odd book that I donate to my church the minute I am finished with it).

I watch Hoarders here in Hong Kong (on the Biography channel, go figure) and I am waiting to see if they deal with someone who has been a hoarder since childhood. When my mother and I have helped my brother move in the past (due to eviction) he can't even pack his stuff and, of course, we can't throw anything out...it's just like the people on the show! Well, he lives alone so I guess it doesn't hurt anyone but himself. Although he is always broke from some "valuable" mechancial item he has bought, will "fix up" and sell at a profit. His last purchase (with a small inheritence from my father) was a backhoe- parked in front of his house (apparentely legal).

Sorry, didn't mean to hijack your thread...I do completely feel for you because it is truly a devastating mental illness that is unrecognized as such (if you meet these people outside their homes) because they can appear perfectly normal. So you don't get any support...maybe a little counselling with your siblings could get them to agree on a clean-up plan. My brother is not in the greatest of health and, as the youngest sibling, I know I will be the one to deal with his hoarding after he is gone. Right now I am kind of an enabler as I pay his property taxes and the occasional utility bill when he gets cut off.
Mynameise-difficult thing, for sure, thanks for your comment!

Margaretinhongkong-it is really difficult to watch someone you love go through this disorder, also difficult to live with! In watching the show, it seems like many of these people go right back to hoarding after every clean-up. I know in my mom's case, as soon as an area was cleaned out, she took it to mean she could fill up that space! Thanks for your comments and I wish you well in dealing with your brother!
Wow! My heart goes out to you. I never thought of hoarding as a mental illness before, but you're right that it is.
Anna-I guess it has only recently been identified as being in the OCD family. Kind of makes sense, as my mom was a clean freak before my brother died. Thaank you for your comments!
Excellent writing and an explanation of a condition I never really understood until reading your experiences here. R.
Thanks for this explanation. Good job hanging onto your sanity!
Dear reader-so tough to fathom, sometimes. Thank you for your comments!

Geezerchick-I am not so sure about the sanity, part! Thank you for your comments!
Thank you for writing this! My mother was on the show last season, and my main reason for being willing to do the show was the hope that other children who grew up in the 'hoard' would see it. I never knew that there were others like me living like this. Even now though, too little is known about the causes which makes treatment difficult.

Unfortunately, my mother has other mental issues that made my childhood quite unhappy (at least when I was at home). It is great to hear a story from someone who is not bitterly angry. Thank you for being that voice.
Not Bound-I guess I sensed the underlying sadness that permeated my Mom. It was still incredibly difficult to live like that. As a kid, we develop complexes anyway, we don't need parents to add to them! Thank you for your comments!
I know there have been several comments about the exploitative nature of "Hoarders" and similar programming, but as a mental health professional who has worked a good deal with hoarders (and with some of the professionals who participate in the show), I wanted to weigh in, as this is a subject to which I've given a good deal of thought. Though there are bound to be some people who watch these shows to laugh at and judge the people who come forward and ask for help in this way, I think even a cursory glance at the sheer number of commenters to this post will show why these programs are important. As one commentor mentioned earlier, we didn't even talk about hoarding in the 80s, we didn't have a name for the condition and simply blamed those afflicted with it for their failings, thus exacerbating the problems (causing the hoarders to retreat even further from potential sources of help out of shame and/or defensiveness). Now we have a name, a description, and thanks to "Hoarders," we have real human faces on this problem. The show (I haven't see the TLC one, I assume it's similar) does a really good job of showing the diversity within this illness, too. I've seen every episode and have thus gotten to meet upper class hoarders, impoverished hoarders, working hoarders, hoarders on disability for mental or physical issues, young, old, collectors of beautiful things out of control, and those living in filth and squalor...the point is, if you know someone (or are someone) with this condition, by watching several episodes, you'll find someone to identify with. We're getting this problem into the open. Whether or not this was the best way to do so is pretty moot at this point, this is how the information got put out there, and clearly people are responding. The comments here are filled with personal stories - these people aren't judging the participants who ask for help via the program, they're relieved to see them and are experiencing their own healing via the new openness this show has afforded.

Yes, clearly some people won't take these shows so constructively and will laugh at, judge harshly, or otherwise try to dehumanize the hoarders who come on the show. And some hoarders will not be helped by this manner of assistance. I don't know how participants are screened, but I do think that's a real risk. One needs to have a good degree of resilience to accept public scrutiny like this, but I think for many of the show's participants, they need this help more than they are worried about such matters. And I know there are no mechanisms available through any funding source (at least in LA) that allow the hoarder to get assistance financially with the often astronomical expense of de-hoarding and cleanup. There is some mental health assistance available if they have the right insurance, but treatment needs to be side-by-side with cleaning efforts, or it tends to stall out - it takes a team, and insurance will generally pay for one person, a psychologist or social worker, to come in for somewhere around 10 sessions. It takes much more to make a difference, but at least for now
throwing a spotlight on this disorder and humanizing its sufferers (including family members who are equally affected in one way or another) is an important start in creating real change and improving the lives of hoarders and their families.

Thanks, libmomrn for adding one more cogent voice to this discussion - it's so important to keep the discussion going. I'm so glad you were willing to share our story (and that so many posters were as well) - this all helps create the change that's needed to make things better.
Calliope9-thank you so much for your thoughtful comments!