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.
“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.
“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.
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.