Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who wants to be called a "hoarder?"


It's just not a nice word. Even one of the clients in the new A&E Hoarders series mentioned how she didn't like the word.

It sounds awful. And it sounds a lot like another word that is spelled differently but sounds the same. I have learned to enunciate clearly and make sure the person I'm speaking to is paying attention otherwise they think I've just called someone a very bad name.

In fact, I try not to use the word "hoarder" anymore at all. Instead of "I work with hoarders" I'll say "I work with clients who have compulsive hoarding issues." Instead of "She's becoming a hoarder" I'll say, "She has some compulsive hoarding tendencies." You get the idea.

It's like in the health profession or mental health profession. Calling someone by the name of their illness degrades a person, make them the illness, no longer a person with an illness. "She's a person with bipolar disorder" rather than "She's a bipolar." I don't work in hospitals (but I've watched hospital shows), and we've heard doctors refer to "the brain cancer in Room 5" when they should have said "the patient in Room 5 with brain cancer."

Hoarding is an illness. A compulsion. A sad and uncomfortable place to be.

It's unfortunate that A&E names their series "Hoarders," but I suppose that's a whole lot catchier than "People with Compulsive Hoarding Issues."

My clients are people. Most often, they are fun, creative, interesting, intelligent, talkative, warm and caring people.

And some of them have compulsive hoarding issues.

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