Why Do People Watch “Hoarders?” Part 2

My last post explained how some people watch “Hoarders” because it mirrors their own behaviors and others because it motivates them to avoid the situations they see on the show.

Today I will describe three more reasons people find “Hoarders” appealing.

Window

“Hoarders” isn’t just a mirror, reflecting our perceptions and behaviors back at us, and (hopefully) spurring change. The show also serves as a window into the lives of others.

Most of us know someone – a relative, friend or neighbor – who over-acquires and can’t let go of possessions. Before “Hoarders”, the temptation to judge would have been profound. Now, however, viewers know that these people aren’t lazy and are, in fact, unable to categorize or organize the items they accumulate in abundance.

Hoarders can’t help themselves. Certainly, to be successful, each hoarder needs to be committed to change, but each also needs the supportive intervention of the medical community, loving friends and family, and trained professional organizers.

From what I hear and see, “Hoarders” gives people windows on the lives of these struggling individuals and their families. I believe the more the audience watches, the more tolerant and understanding everyone will become.

Textbook

“Hoarders” educates in multiple ways. First, it’s educational to the general viewer, teaching about the complexity of family dynamics and about the psychological issues related to developing attachments to tangible stuff. The program also provides insight into the varying approaches and techniques used by each therapist, professional organizer and “extreme cleaner” to help each hoarder in specific ways.

Next, “Hoarders” provides a depth of knowledge for firefighters, paramedics, law officers, social workers and professional organizers about the truths of hoarding disorders. Novices in any of these fields might make flippant judgments or assume hoarding is merely a harmless, if overgrown, hobby. “Hoarders” has helped educate professionals about the serious dangers – social, psychological and physical – that hoarding presents to hoarders, the individuals seeking to help them, and the community.

In particular, “Hoarders” has inspired members of the mental health profession, such as therapists, to ask questions and arrange to learn more from those of us who specialize in this area. Watching “Hoarders” gives these therapists specialized insight into some of their patients’ behaviors and has inspired requests to collaborate or form teams to help those they suspect may be hoarders.

The show has also helped educate viewers about the incredible financial challenges hoarding places on landlords, neighborhood communities and taxpayers. Understanding the high expense related to “fixing” a hoarder’s home, and the impact that the hoard can have on the infrastructure of a building or neighborhood, is essential.

Validation

Children of hoarders watch the program avidly. Each of them knows how it feels to grow up in a home that’s stuffed with stuff. A hoarded home is not a happy, healthy home, and growing up with a hoarder is not conducive to a happy adulthood. Children of hoarders call and write to say they can relate to “Hoarders”, and that it helps knowing that others are out there. For this audience, it also helps them when they see people reach out for help.

If you watch “Hoarders”, I’d love to hear your reasons for watching. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Geralin Thomas

Professional Organizer, CPO-CD. New Professional Organizer Trainer at Metropolitan Organizing, LLC
I work with people who want to become professional organizers and create sustainable, profitable, and sensible organizing businesses. Through Metropolitan Organizing—"Metrozing" for short—I offer coaching internationally via phone and Skype. Additionally, I offer products like the New Organizers’ Essentials Kit to help get organizers boost their businesses. If you want to become a professional organizer, I can help! Find my "Become a Professional Organizer" board on Pinterest! Additionally, Metropolitan Organizing helps chronically disorganized clients in the Raleigh area organize their office, home, time, or life. For home organization services in the Raleigh area, leave a message at (919) 380-7718 or fill out the contact form on the website. Search for Geralin Thomas on : Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Linkedin | IMDb

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Comments

  1. Ashley says

    I watch the show because my mother is a hoarder. She’s not as bad now as she was when I was a child. I find myself sometimes with the same tendencies. However, I try my best to let go of things. When I want to get rid of something, for instance that my mother has given me. I feel a sense of guilt because I know how hurt she will be. I have done things to help her declutter her life and try to remove things at her pace. Having my own child I try to be mindful not to keep everything because the things I had when I was a child was destroyed! Losing those things because of my mother’s hoard, my childhood home had to be demolished with all those precious things inside. I find myself holding onto things for my daughter! I don’t want her to grow up unhappy and negleted like I was. I watch Hoarders for pointers on how to deal with a hoarder. I’ve learned to be more patient and yet stern and mindful of those behaviors within myself. I have to be organized and finish a project before I buy something to start a new one, I have to let go of some papers and toys for my daughter. I fight against my mother because she wants to buy my daughter toys, clothes, projects. Her good intentions fill up the space and she equates finacial support (gifts)as emotional support and I try to show her it doesn’t mean the same thing.. That a hug from her is just as good as a stuffed toy or candy or clothes for my daughter. She doesn’t need a million versions of the same thing. Hoarders let’s me know there are other’s out there. I’ve even looked up blogs about children of hoarders. When I was a child I knew even then that behavior was wrong and it took a very long time for me to trust people and be truthful with them. Fortunately now, I have a good husband and a wonderful daughter. However the relationship with my mother is very strained because of her behaviors.I can’t get her to watch the show with me, or even discuss events from when I was a child but the show does give me some comfort. There are others out there, just like me! It’s comforting!

    • says

      Ashley, First of all thanks for being so open and honest and putting yourself out there; this particular post gets lots of traffic but not too many comments which leads me to believe that there are many who read, take comfort and move on without commenting. Second: I’m always happy to hear that people glean tips and useful information from the show, Hoarders. Everyone who worked on that show was in it 100% and really wanted the best for the families involved. Third: Children of Hoarders is a fantastic online resource so I encourage you to stay in touch with the folks on those forums. Finally, just because someone ‘gifts’ you with something doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Give yourself permission to make your home your peaceful, clutter-free, habitat. Again, thanks for your note – it made my day!

  2. TBrwngl says

    The show motivates and educates me. I realize I’m a hoarder too. Not as severe as most cases I’ve seen. But I have a lot of stuff in boxes, bins, bags, that has never been used or is ready for discarding. My intention when I purchase it is to do something with it. However, that rarely happens or takes about a year or longer to get around to. Over the last few years I have donated several large bags of clothing to charity organizations but I find I still have a ton of clothing and shoes not being used. I am definitely a person who uses 20% of my belongings. I have purchased duplicates of a lot of things mostly tools. One day I tried to put all tools together and counted 6/7 utility knives, 4/5 pliers, tons of drill bits, 3-4 drills, many things for making a paint job easier, paint rollers, paint thats never been used, etc. I had a professional organizer come in years ago but felt she didnt really help. She showed me how to move stuff from one area to another. Which I’m learning now is an absolute no-no. I have tons of information/ideas in my mind but can’t seem to execute. I can start but any little distraction pulls me away and I may not return to that project for several days/months. My issues are with paper, clothing and household things. Food is not a problem. I still clean the bathrooms, kitchen, do laundry and vaccum… its just the accumulation of things that I find challenging. No walkways are blocked but there are boxes/bins piled up in my dining room and bedrooms and paper scattered about on tables, counters, sofa, and floor areas. I’m sure if I continue little by little eventually I will get to the organized home I used to have.

    • Geralin says

      Congratulations on your progress — it sounds as if you’re motivated and have good insight about your particular challenges. Keep up the good work and drop me another note when you’ve reached your next milestone.

  3. Tillie says

    I watch hoarders because I live with a hoarder.
    Heard about the program from my searching the internet and was extremely happy to find the episodes on the A&E website.
    There I learned that my hoarder has a disorder that he shares with many other people. The things he is thinking and feeling about his stuff is what the featured hoarders are thinking and feeling too.
    Watching the professionals at work has helped me immensely. Being able to post my questions to the featured participants and read other posts on the message board has been priceless in my education on this subject.
    Hoarders has put me in contact with the people responsible for me now having such wonderful success in helping him change his thinking about his stuff.
    For twenty years he was out of control with his dumpster diving, buying and never tossing out a single thing. Salvaging what he considered recyclables but never recycling them, turning our land into an extension of the county dump.
    Now, slowly but surely he has been decluttering!
    It’s a slow process but very much in the right direction. :D

  4. Patricia says

    A friend of mine, when I told her I liked watching Hoarders, said “that can’t be real – it’s got to be staged!” but I on the other hand can empathize somewhat with hoarders and the gradual process by which they become buried by their own possessions. I’ve always been able to keep up with housework and while for much of my life not too much up on aethetically decorated rooms I’d say I was competent in all the varied tasks which go under the heading “housekeeping”. However I do recall I had a pile of stuff shoved under the staircase in the basement and cupboards in my room, my bathroom and spare room stuffed with things I’d end up losing track of and forgetting about. There was something especially difficult about cleaning out that cache in the basement under the staircase. I’d come across something that was just a piece of something, not even the entire item and I would go through little piles of these thingsitem by item and not be able to throw any of it out.! An example of this was a music box (my daughter’s) which was smashed into about 3 pieces and I kept on putting it back . When I moved from that house to my current address (six years ago now) I took a LOT of stuff with me. I even took my recycling. I joked that I even packed my dust. This array of possessions had been amassed over the twelve years I lived in the old place – since I had a garage at the new house and was undergoing some renos and cleanup (the former owner was definitely a hoarder) I put most of my stuff in the garage except what I really needed. This was my frst lesson: after two years I looked over everything in the garage and realized that I could have dispensed with two thirds to three quarters of what I had taken with me and never missed it! Then I learned more from cleaning up after the last owner. He himself had left junk in the yard and had even buried it in places. There was wood and broken flower pots and flotsams and jetsams of various descriptions everywhere and I had to do quite a few dump runs to get rid of the remnants of his hoard! Another lesson learned. Then the program Hoarders came along and I found it fascinating. First of all it is an intriguing psychological study of how people can become desensitized to their surroundings, and the types of events which have brought them to the bad situations they are in. I don’t look down my nose at this recalling my difficulties. I learned that what I had in common with the people on this show is that I had projected some memory and emotion into the objects and throwing out the object would be like throwing out/rejecting the memory, or committing something somewhat akin to a betrayal. I had suffered some trauma in my life and felt rejecting and throwing these items would be like rejecting them; since I had projected something of myself into them it was as if I was throwing myself out. I continue to watch Hoarders; I am inspired to continue ridding my house of unwanted/unneeded items and keep on improving the aethetics in my surroundings so it’s a place I’m proud to call home. I’d very much love to work with hoarders and help them. What I would definitely have working for me is humility.

    • Geralin says

      Patricia,

      Rest assured, [tell your friend] Hoarders is not staged; we do not add stuff or bring more stuff into homes being filmed.

      About your post –
      One of the things I’m especially interested in (thus, my 2-part post, “Why People Watch Hoarders”) is how viewers, especially those with a hoarding disorder, react to the show. As you might imagine, I truly appreciate your comment, ” I don’t look down my nose at this recalling my difficulties” because this is exactly what many clients tell me! They watch the show and relate to the emotions they see: anger, hurt and passion.

      Thousands of people apply to be on the show every year and many of them say that watching the show gives them the courage and knowledge. They find it easier to reach out for help. Some folks, like you, help themselves and others use the show as inspiration or motivation to stay in control of their accumulating / saving habits.

      Your comments are greatly appreciated; thank you for taking time to post your thoughts. It’s always a pleasure to hear from people making progress and living healthier lives. I wish you much continued success.

  5. CR says

    I watch probably for the “validation” aspect-had a relative die in her hoard and I have a mother who is a food hoarder. I am also a licensed mental health practitioner, so I watch it for the “textbook” aspect, as well. Sometimes watching it creates an angry countertransference, and I recognize it as the anger toward the family members who have complicated and burdened my own family.

  6. says

    I’m not exactly sure…I grew up in a neat but home filled with a lot of stuff. When I went to live with my grandparents at the age of 6, my new closet became a big mess. My grandmother threw everything on the floor and told me to clean it up and not to let it get that way again, and I never did. Ever since then .. I love organizing and can’t stand a lot of clutter. My husband thinks I’m crazy for watching. I love to see the end result and feel so bad for most of these people. My mom was mentally ill (although I didn’t live with her) I can identify with much of what’s going on. I’m thinking of getting into the field. I actually have a friend who wants to hire me, her husband passed away 6 months ago and the paperwork is over flowing.