Monday, August 17, 2009

A&E Compulsive Hoarding Series

A&E is running a new series about compulsive hoarding, which premiered Monday, August 17.

You can read more about it and find the schedule here. It will be shown on Monday nights, and according to my Comcast schedule, each episode will be shown a number of times each week.

I just watched the first show and am left with mixed impressions of their portrayal of the topic and their subjects.

I know a couple of the Professional Organizers who worked with the people, and have heard Dr. David Tolin (the psychologist featured in one segment) speak at an NSGCD (National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization) conference.

The reactions of the people that were being helped were typical of those with compulsive hoarding issues. Aware of their situation, yet seemingly blind to the piles around them. Intelligent, creative and caring people. People concerned with not wasting things, yet in that very concern gone haywire, they have wasted and ruined almost everything they have "saved" for use in the future. It all seems logical to them.

Even the threat of eviction or losing a spouse or custody of their children often does not prompt them to change their ways. They seem to be at the mercy of this cruel condition.

So very complicated.

And heartbreaking for their families.

For the most part, the organizers and Dr. Tolin treated these clients with respect and patience. There might have been a few times where I might have said something differently or tried a different tactic. But I know these people to be trained and educated around the issue of compulsive hoarding. Dr. Tolin is one of three researchers conducting research into this condition, and has co-written a book intended for those with the problem of hoarding and their families--Buried in Treasures. (See this book on my Amazon carousel at the bottom of this page.)

Keep in mind that this was a one-hour television show that condensed many, many hours of actual work. We don't know what went on at other times, or what was cut here and there.

I did read some comments on the A&E website about how so much was just "thrown out." Please keep in mind that when most professional organizers work with clients (myself included) we try to donate, recycle or repurpose whatever we can. We don't want to waste anything, either.

But the big issue with things that come from a house filled with hoarded items....they are probably toxic with mold or are impregnated with the smell from the home--again, mold, mildew and dust. Most items really cannot be saved, and should not be dumped on some unsuspecting thrift store and possibly contaminate someone else's home.

In the next few days, I'll write more posts about compulsive hoarding.

In the meantime, check out my links listed on this blog and check out my credentials for working with people who have severe clutter or compulsive hoarding issues.

Please contact me by phone or e-mail if you have any questions or concerns about your own issues or a loved-ones.

Margaret Pearson Pinkham

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