Austin Waste Management: Do TV Shows Accurately Reflect Hoarding?

Posted: June 7, 2013 in junk removal
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As an Austin waste management company, we’re frequently asked one question…

“Are real-life hoarders like the ones on TV?”

So how accurately does Hoarders represent hoarding?

On the positive side, the show does a good job representing the extent to which hoarders hoard. It proves beyond a reasonable doubt that hoarders are mentally ill and not just “lazy.” It also clearly shows the risks and misery of living surrounded by so much junk.

In the video above, the hoarder has so much junk accumulated that she can’t find a plumber who is willing to fix her kitchen sink. Thus, her kitchen has had no running water for 12 years! She’s forced to wash dishes in her bathtub!

The show also does a great job of showing exactly how hard it can be for a hoarder to let go of their stuff. People frequently think that the solution to hoarding is to just “throw out their crap.” But it doesn’t work like that. Throwing out a hoarder’s stuff without their input can lead to the hoarder having a full blown mental breakdown.

You can see this struggle reflected in the video above when the hoarder doesn’t want to throw out her encyclopedias from the 1970’s. Despite the fact that the books are so outdated, they are almost completely worthless, she insists that they should be donated. Why? Because to her, the books are valuable and she feels that other people will also get value from them.

On the negative side, the show downplays the treatment aspect in favor of the cleanup efforts. The hoarder is shown meeting with a therapist a few times in an effort to get her to throw away her junk. In real life, however, a hoarder will need months, if not years, of intensive therapy to prevent them from relapsing.

The therapist will also have to figure out the primary reason for the hoarding. Frequently, hoarders suffer from major depression or obsessive compulsive disorder and will need medications to treat these conditions before moving forward.

Think about it like this. Hoarders can be considered addicts. They are addicted to junk. And like most addicts, they’ll probably need a few years of therapy to prevent a relapse. Just like it’s not enough to throw away a drug addict’s drugs; it’s not enough to throw away a hoarder’s junk.

Overall, however the show does do a good job of portraying the hazards of hoarding and raising public awareness of the disorder.

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