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Finally watched Hoarders ... - Page 3

post #41 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
For some people, sure. For others, it just seems to be a reason to pass judgment without understanding.
But I think the show does a good job of including bits and pieces of the mental health aspect - especially since they include a psychologist/counselor in every episode. If they were just showing crews going through and cleaning it all out, people who don't understand that it's a disorder would have an easier time just assuming the hoarders are lazy/slobs/etc. I like how they show the support person asking the hoarders important questions, going through most items - even those that appear to be trash to outsiders, and are understanding, compassionate, reassuring and so on. So, while I realize that what is shown is just a tiny snippet of the counseling and therapy the hoarders will need to truly change their way of living and thinking, it's at least something to affirm that it is truly a disorder.

And lets remember that these people agreed to be on the show. It's not like they were blindsided by a loved one and forced to participate. It seems like they are always given the option, at any point, to stop if they aren't okay with moving forward. In fact, several of the houses remained pretty similar to what they looked like when taping began. The hoarders just weren't ready to commit to getting help.

*I* wasn't intending to sound judgmental when i asked about the smell. I am super, super sensitive to odors - be it fragrance that is supposed to be appealing or something growing mold. But it makes sense that when the smell develops over time - and your mental health isn't great - that you acclimate to scents that other people (like those entering the hoarder's homes to help) get physically ill over. So, I guess I answered my own question.
post #42 of 76
This show both fascinates and frustrates me. As a Mental Health Professional I am frustrated that they have such unrealistic timelines. It isn't healthy or safe to force a person suffering with hoarding to change in 2-3 days. In order for them to learn new strategies and to overcome their mental illness they need time, support and probably medication. The show basically sets them up for failure as they have such tight time constraints but huge goals.

However, seeing so many examples of this illness is fascinating. The range for hoarding is large, and for many people they only have tendencies but not the full blown disorder. These people of course are severe, and to the point where it is clearly interfering with their quality of living.
post #43 of 76
tea time - I guess I assumed they were offered continued counseling. At least with some of the couples/individuals they inlcluded that info as an update (usually just text on the screen). I think the lady with the cats had to commit to therapy in order to keep the cats she had. I would hope they aren't just there for 2-3 days and then disappear w/o at least providing resources as to how to get support. I agree that it would be pretty impossible to change a behavior and way of living in such a short period of time. I mean, the experience could be somewhat traumatic and an eye opener for many of the guests, I'm sure, but they definitely need more help than just that.

I'll have to look around on the a&e site and see if they mention what happens after the taping is over.

eta: just from googling "a&e hoarders counseling" it appears that they do provide therapy and aftercare when the show is over. Of course, like any other compulsive behavior, the individuals themselves have to want to change and accept the help. It's good to know it's not just for entertainment purposes only. The shows seems to have changed people's lives for the better (and not just the participants, but viewers, too).

One article stated: "Following the show there will be a period of counseling the person being helped must agree to complete." -- so it may be a condition upon getting selected for the show.
post #44 of 76
I agree that they do need more time, but I think every episode there's a deadline from outside authorities on the people which is why the show comes in. Usually people are being kicked out of their homes by their landlords or have had multiple warnings one man spent time in jail and was being threatened with more time in jail if he didn't clean up... one woman had a deadline for cleaning to get her children back from CPS, one lady was going to lose BOTH her houses (couldn't afford both mortgages any longer)... this is the SHTF scenario for most of these hoarders... it creates more drama if there's a deadline, etc, but I kind of think it's good that the show comes in and helps them when they're already in those kinds of situations...
post #45 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post
Piles do mean dust and sometimes bugs get into piles. Piles can become filthy is not managed correctly, don't kid yourself.
IM not kidding myself. She died and I am the one who boxed up her house- dh was deployed.

Her house was amazingly CLEAN! There were so many rubbernaid containers of stuff. Boxes of stuff. Hutches filled with glassware that she cleaned often, with boxes and boxes of glassware next to the hutch. Closets were full of ziplocked clothes and and and....

There was an entire room in her house filled with containers that she regularly moved and cleaned.

She had asthma and was disabled due to environmental allergies... So I'm sure that played a part.

But the hoarding disorder has to do with the disordered attachment to the stuff and that can be present in clean environments.
post #46 of 76
Among other things, this show has dampened my love of potlucks! Watching these people who are dressed nicely and have neat front yards, but who think a container of cottage cheese is okay so long as it isn't bulging out greatly.
Now I go to potlucks and wonder if any of the dishes were prepared by a hoarder.

The show does present an interesting issue as to when government intervention is appropriate. Obviously the standard is higher when there are children involved, but when should a government entity force an adult to clean up their house or face penalties?
post #47 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post
tea time - I guess I assumed they were offered continued counseling. At least with some of the couples/individuals they inlcluded that info as an update (usually just text on the screen). I think the lady with the cats had to commit to therapy in order to keep the cats she had. I would hope they aren't just there for 2-3 days and then disappear w/o at least providing resources as to how to get support. I agree that it would be pretty impossible to change a behavior and way of living in such a short period of time. I mean, the experience could be somewhat traumatic and an eye opener for many of the guests, I'm sure, but they definitely need more help than just that.

I'll have to look around on the a&e site and see if they mention what happens after the taping is over.

eta: just from googling "a&e hoarders counseling" it appears that they do provide therapy and aftercare when the show is over. Of course, like any other compulsive behavior, the individuals themselves have to want to change and accept the help. It's good to know it's not just for entertainment purposes only. The shows seems to have changed people's lives for the better (and not just the participants, but viewers, too).

One article stated: "Following the show there will be a period of counseling the person being helped must agree to complete." -- so it may be a condition upon getting selected for the show.
Right, but if you watch the episodes at the end the vast majority of them report that the person declined continuing therapy and/or assistance from a professional organizer. My guess is that they were so overwhelmed/traumatized by the quick and invasive experience (multiple people going through and throwing away their belongings/sense of self) that they refused to continue. Also, they appear to mostly seem powerless during the episodes, so that is something they can have control over (refusing to get help). Sad.

I just watched the Season 1 episode where the couple lost custody of their children. The show cleaned out the entire house and put something like 1500 boxes into storage. At the end it said 6 mo later they still didn't have the kids back b/c the authorities didn't think the hoarding was under control. My guess they realized she wasn't really "fixed" despite the house temporarily being clean. I also guess that there is more going on there b/c when I worked in CPS that alone (stuff in storage/hoarding) wouldn't have been enough to keep custody away!
post #48 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by tea_time View Post

I just watched the Season 1 episode where the couple lost custody of their children. The show cleaned out the entire house and put something like 1500 boxes into storage. At the end it said 6 mo later they still didn't have the kids back b/c the authorities didn't think the hoarding was under control. My guess they realized she wasn't really "fixed" despite the house temporarily being clean. I also guess that there is more going on there b/c when I worked in CPS that alone (stuff in storage/hoarding) wouldn't have been enough to keep custody away!
I was wondering if there was more to it in that episode, too. Interesting that hoarding alone isn't enough to lose your kids.
post #49 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
I do find this whole idea of voyeurism at other people's mental health issues as a form of entertainment to be, I don't know... distasteful? morally repugnant? If nothing else, it does a disservice because it allows people to pass judgment without truly understanding the complex issues behind it.
My view is that it's not perfect, but it's what we've got, as a tool to teach the general public about hoarding.

I keep imagining conversations, with or about kids that in the past would have been trapped in the hoard for decades:

-- Pre-Hoarders:

Kid: "Our house is a mess. _Really_ a mess. I mean, we've got a lot of cats and -"
Generic Mandated Reporter: "Well, now, honey, don't you think that you should help your mother out a little with the housekeeping?"

Aunt: "The house that my niece lives in a disaster. It's unsanitary. You can't cross a room without stepping on -"
Official: "Now, we can't take kids out of a home because their parents are a little untidy. It's not anyone's place to tell an adult how they should do their housekeeping."

-- Post-Hoarders (in my rose-tinted-glasses imagination):

Kid or Aunt: "No, I mean a hoarder like in Hoarders."
Official or Generic Mandated Reporter: "_Oh_. Here, let me get my Squalor Scale photos so you can show me which one is the best match..."

Hoarding needs to be recognized, and we need some avenues by which legal action can be taken to protect other members of the hoarded household. If Hoarders gets us a few steps closer to that, I'm all for it.

Crayfish
post #50 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crayfish View Post
My view is that it's not perfect, but it's what we've got, as a tool to teach the general public about hoarding.

I keep imagining conversations, with or about kids that in the past would have been trapped in the hoard for decades:

-- Pre-Hoarders:

Kid: "Our house is a mess. _Really_ a mess. I mean, we've got a lot of cats and -"
Generic Mandated Reporter: "Well, now, honey, don't you think that you should help your mother out a little with the housekeeping?"

Aunt: "The house that my niece lives in a disaster. It's unsanitary. You can't cross a room without stepping on -"
Official: "Now, we can't take kids out of a home because their parents are a little untidy. It's not anyone's place to tell an adult how they should do their housekeeping."

-- Post-Hoarders (in my rose-tinted-glasses imagination):

Kid or Aunt: "No, I mean a hoarder like in Hoarders."
Official or Generic Mandated Reporter: "_Oh_. Here, let me get my Squalor Scale photos so you can show me which one is the best match..."

Hoarding needs to be recognized, and we need some avenues by which legal action can be taken to protect other members of the hoarded household. If Hoarders gets us a few steps closer to that, I'm all for it.

Crayfish
I don't think a foster home where the children have a much higher chance of abuse or molestation would be better than a hoarding home.
post #51 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Usually Curious View Post
I don't think a foster home where the children have a much higher chance of abuse or molestation would be better than a hoarding home.
Why do you assume all foster homes are bad?

I've met some great foster parents.

No one should live in filthy hoarder home... not even the hoarder.
post #52 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post
Why do you assume all foster homes are bad?

I've met some great foster parents.

No one should live in filthy hoarder home... not even the hoarder.
Agreed. I've known some fantastic foster parents.



Every time I watch I have to fight the urge to start tossing stuff in bags.

Some of the episodes chill me to the bone because I see the warning signs in my mother...the shopping at cheap places for random crap, sending people boxes of said crap, keeping things "just in case"...
post #53 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post
Why do you assume all foster homes are bad?

I've met some great foster parents.

No one should live in filthy hoarder home... not even the hoarder.
Statistically speaking children are at a much higher risk of abuse in foster homes.

My SIL runs a non-profit parent education organization and sees the horrors from CPS and the foster care system every day.

I don't want to get this thread off topic, though.
post #54 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Usually Curious View Post
I don't think a foster home where the children have a much higher chance of abuse or molestation would be better than a hoarding home.
It's not all that uncommon for hoarding homes to be without plumbing, without heat, without decent food, with roaches and rodents, with pets defecating when and where they please, with decaying dead bodies of pets and rodents, with rotting food and garbage and human elimination, with no bed for the child because the bed is "needed" to store junk, with no space for the child to do homework because the tables and floor are "needed" to store junk.

The child may go to school smelling of cats and feces and garbage. And that's leaving out the health problems - asthma, infections, parasites, food poisoning. And that's leaving out the physical dangers - cold, damp, mold, the heightened risk of fire. And that's leaving out the pain, to the child, of the day to day evidence that the junk is far, far more important to their parents than they are.

Yes, I'm sure that at some level most of these parents really love their children. But when the conditions are as I describe above, or anything like them, love is simply not enough.

One could argue that a child who is beaten, but only occasionally, or a child who is constantly verbally abused, but not physically beaten, is also better off than a child in the worst failures of foster care. Odds are, those parents also love their children.

But I don't think I'd use that as an argument to leave the child with an abusive parent. The same is true here. We're not talking about a little moderate untidiness. That's my whole point - the show Hoarders shows us exactly how far beyond untidiness this problem can go.

Crayfish

Edited to add: And we're not necessarily talking about foster care. There may be a non-hoarding parent or relative eager to take the children, but they can't, because hoarding isn't seen as sufficient grounds for removing the child or for custody decisions. My view is that hoarding needs to be seen as sufficient grounds for these things.
post #55 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crayfish View Post
My view is that hoarding needs to be seen as sufficient grounds for these things.
But how do you decide what level? One could argue that all mental illness is a risk factor for parenting and could lead to abuse/neglect. However, there are HUGE ranges in disorders, how they are handled and how they affect parenting. Your example of how hoarding can cause abuse & neglect is spot on. But, not all hoarding is like that. Many parents can still maintain or do what we call "good enough parenting". You have to keep that in mind and not make broad generalizations or sweeping statements. That's why CPS agencies have guidelines (or they should have) to determine whether or not a child is being harmed or is at risk of harm. They would look at the situation separate from the disorder. In other words, it doesn't matter the reason (hoarding, drug abuse, other mental illness) if the child has no food, running water, access to clean clothing or a safe place to sleep that = a problem.
post #56 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by tea_time View Post
But how do you decide what level? One could argue that all mental illness is a risk factor for parenting and could lead to abuse/neglect. However, there are HUGE ranges in disorders, how they are handled and how they affect parenting. Your example of how hoarding can cause abuse & neglect is spot on. But, not all hoarding is like that. Many parents can still maintain or do what we call "good enough parenting". You have to keep that in mind and not make broad generalizations or sweeping statements. That's why CPS agencies have guidelines (or they should have) to determine whether or not a child is being harmed or is at risk of harm. They would look at the situation separate from the disorder. In other words, it doesn't matter the reason (hoarding, drug abuse, other mental illness) if the child has no food, running water, access to clean clothing or a safe place to sleep that = a problem.
You look. You evaluate. In my example, I had the Imaginary Official getting out the Squalor Scale photos to evaluate the extent of the reported problem against a known standard.

Of course CPS would need to evaluate the home and the extent of the problem. I'm not suggesting that someone show up, look around, and say, "You have more than ten newspapers from the 1970's. You're a hoarder. Your kids are outta here forever."

But do you really _never_ care about the reason for a parenting issue? I have trouble understanding how it's possible to deal with the consquences of serious mental health issues while _totally_ ignoring the details of the mental health issues themselves. Maybe that's not what you're saying, but that's what it sounded like.

For example, if a parent is abusing his kids, do you not care if that parent has an anger management problem, versus a drug problem, versus an alcohol problem, versus a mental illness? Yes, I realize that in any case, the kids need protection from being abused, but doesn't the reason affect any of your decisions? For example, would the parent going to anger management or to rehab or getting a diagnosis and medication from a psychiatrist be evidence of their commitment to getting their kids back? In that case, I'd say that you do care about the reason.

Similarly, I think that the reason for having an unacceptable home does matter. If the reason is not having enough money or time or knowledge or other resources to maintain a clean safe home, then the strategy may be to get access to those resources. For example, I could imagine that if a parent's problem was lack of knowledge and time, their presenting evidence that they've hired a cleaning service and taken a class on sanitation and food safety might have meaning.

But if the reason is hoarding, then the hoarder is likely to _strongly_ resist any efforts to change the condition of the home. They could hire cleaners twenty-four hours a day, and they'd still make sure that the house didn't get cleaned. Whether you classify hoarding as an addiction or something else, it is very resistant to treatment. Anger management isn't going to do much for an alcoholic; rehab isn't going to do much for a person with an anger problem. Cleaning resources aren't going to do much for a person that is highly motivated to ensure that their house doesn't get cleaned.

These are things, IMO, that officials need to know. They need to know that a threat of taking the children away is not likely to enable the parent to stop hoarding, any more than it would enable an alcoholic parent to stop drinking. They need to know that when they're up against a deadline, hoarders can do a quick cleanup job, but that they almost never maintain that new situation, and so the hoarding is likely to be back full force in weeks. I really think that they need to understand the problem.

Crayfish
post #57 of 76
crayfish - I think this is one of those conversations that isn't translating well OL. We probably agree but aren't coming across clearly. For example, I was responding to your hoarding = child abuse statement. I was only saying that hoarding has many degrees and doesn't always = abuse. It appears in your response that you agree.

Of course the underlying causes are important with child abuse, once abuse is determined. For, those causes drive the reunification plan. In other words drug abuse = treatment, mental health = assessment and treatment, etc.

What got me talking about child abuse in the first place was my guess that in the episode I referred to the family had more issues than just hoarding. Especially since the immediate harm was fixed by the show cleaning the house. If it was just hoarding on my caseload, we would have most likely returned the children and kept a monitoring plan (to ensure the risk didn't return).
post #58 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by tea_time View Post
crayfish - I think this is one of those conversations that isn't translating well OL. We probably agree but aren't coming across clearly.
Yes, it sounds like there's a misunderstanding here, or a couple of them. My apologies.

No, I wouldn't say that all hoarding is child abuse - it's certainly a matter of degree.

But I do have the impression that it's difficult to get officialdom to recognize even fairly bad hoarding as a factor in things like divorce, custody, visitation, and whether a parent's behavior counts as abuse or neglect.

In general, I think that a whole lot of people just don't understand hoarding, and that's why I'm defending the Hoarders show, even if it's not perfect.

It's fairly easy to understand that an alcoholic is driven to keep on drinking, even if he loses his job, his children, his reputation, or his health. (Or maybe it wasn't easy at first, and we just know because that education effort has made a lot of progress.) Even though it's perfectly easy to pour out all the bottles in the house, we know that that perfectly easy action isn't going to have any real influence on whether he starts drinking again.

But people don't seem to understand that even though it's far from impossible to clean out a hoarder's house (with some help and some masks and a few people and a dumpster), that fact doesn't mean that it's going to get cleaned, and if it somehow is forcibly cleaned, it's not going to stay cleaned.

People see the desirable aspects of alcohol; they don't see how anyone could possibly perceive a hoarded house as desirable, and how anyone could cling to that hoarded state.

So they're likely to fall for the hoarder's excuses. ("I just need more help around here!")

And they're likely to fall into the trap of unjustly blaming others. ("Now, if you would just help your mother around the house a little, don't you think that would make things better?" "Well, why is it her responsibility to clean up? Just because you're the man in the marriage doesn't mean that you're not responsible for your share of the housework!")

They don't realize that the hoarder will often fight tooth and nail to protect the hoard, and that they will reject, vehemently and often abusively, any effort to clean it up. And Hoarders shows that, not with just one hoarder that might be a rare fluke, but with hoarder after hoarder. So I approve of Hoarders.

Crayfish
post #59 of 76
I've watched a few episodes on Hulu over the past few days, and this show makes me really sad. I feel so sad for the hoarders and their families. It seems like such a huge problem, and I worry that after the homes are cleared out the mental problems will persist and things will go back to how they were. (I know some of you have mentioned that they get ongoing counseling, but the illness seems so large.)
post #60 of 76
I so wish I had been able to watch this show for therapy when I was forcing my hoarding father to clean out. Thankfully, it was obvious to me throughout the process that it was caused by his mental illness - heck, this cleaning out process was started when he had an inpatient psychiatric stay and he had a second stay before the process was over - but it would have been helpful to see how others were taking the "abuse" from the hoarder and professionals reiterating again and again that it was mental illness.

Somebody further up said that it was a horrible timetable to make somebody go through this stuff in 2 or 3 days, but I kind of think that it would have been easier for my father if we HAD been able (manpower-wise) to go through it in 2 or 3 days instead of spread out over about 6 months. I think that it prolonged the agony for him instead of reducing the stress. It would have given him less time to reminisce over each and every item and rehash the good and bad (and boy can he find the bad in everything) memories.

My father has refused to cooperate with therapy, so he hasn't done anything to help get past his hoarding problem... but since his hoard was reduced AND he no longer can drive any stores AND I took apart his computer (thereby eliminating his ability to feed his ebay addiction), he hasn't been able to refill his house. His mental state has improved since then, but I don't know if it is because he no longer has his gigantic hoard to brood over or something else.

We still have more to clean out one day, but that probably won't happen until he passes away. Unfortunately most of the stuff that is left is stuff that has monetary value (so it is hard to just toss or donate) and will be time consuming to sell. I'm thankful that most of that is the hoard he purchased/passed off on my sister. She might need to watch hoarders then.
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