Sunday, August 29, 2010

Suddenly, I feel so much better about myself.

Television is full of mentally ill people, and no place more than that “Hoarders” show on TLC. Some of them are hoarding because they’re on some maintenance drug or as a result of a personal trauma, but mostly they’re just goofy. I watch because it makes me feel better about my life, and that’s why we do a lot of things.

It’s why we stare at automobile crashes. It’s why we are obsessed with misery and the discomfort of others. The mess that these hoarders get themselves into is appealing to millions of viewers, and obviously why the program is on TV. There isn’t a man, woman or child alive who can look at a house full of junk and think, “I’d like to live like that.” Except, of course, the handful of people who subject themselves to this TV show and the camera crew that has to climb over a mountain of trash.

As for me, I feel bad when I have dirty dishes in the sink. I can't imagine a house full of stuff that makes it impossible to see the floor or obscures my bed to the point that I have to sleep on a pile of clothes. Every time I pass a yard sale, I think that there are people buying stuff and taking it home because they somehow feel compelled to do it. As it is with a lot of things, the compulsion to accumulate stuff is one of our biggest flaws as humans. The things take over.

I ask myself why they subject themselves to the cameras. I ask myself what it is that separates them from the rest of us. The funny thing is that, from the outside the houses and apartments look like the rest of the neighborhood, until you venture inside and fine a pile of junk. Generally, there is a group of friends or relatives that is trying to get the hoarder to throw things away, and a hoarder that fights them, believing that the junk in their home has some value besides being good TV.

If I were involved, I’d wait for them to leave the house and run in with an army of people with trash bags and take everything I saw out to a local incinerator. Psychologists would argue that it wouldn’t solve the problem, and from the looks of the people involved, there is something that makes them cling to the junk – because they don’t see it as junk. Therein lies the problem.

Recently, I had a municipal tax assessor in my condo to roam through and check the place so that the township can assess the value of the joint. I’d guess that, among other things, part of the reason they wanted to come in was to check to see that I didn’t have 50 cats or was raising reptiles in the place. Needless to say, I passed. I can’t imagine what would have happened if the guy had to climb over 6 feet of trash to get to my bedroom. I’d probably be typing this from a park bench instead of my relatively clutter-free living room.

Besides, my one 18-pound cat is plenty to keep up with.


Kcoz said...

I have a sister that is like that…a hoarder. I have never seen the show you speak of, but I have heard of it advertised.
Though the rest of my siblings and I are not that way, I can tell you that hoarding is genetic. On my fathers side there are several hoarders, he wasn’t so bad but one of his sisters was really bad, and her children are not. I have a cousin from the same side of the family that is a hoarder but his parents were not.
I’m not sure if my sister is as bad as the people on this program but it sounds like she is close, trails in-between boxes of junk throughout her house, bedrooms filled with boxes so she sleeps in a small clearing in front of the TV, on the one couch in the house that is not stacked with crap. Many times over the years we have helped her to clean only to have the place look the same after a few months.

What I can tell you about a hoarder is this, they have a compulsion to buy stuff, even if they don’t need it or can afford it…and if there is a sale they will buy ten of that item instead of one. In their mind they are saving money by capitalizing on a good deal. When it comes time to throw out an item they can’t part with it…even if it has never been used or broken, all they think of is how much they spent on it, so it is still of that value, plus the added paranoia that they will need it one day. The problem is that when they do nee that item they can never find it so they go out and buy more, I was cleaning out her shed and found about eight gallons of antifreeze in different locations, all of them opened and partially used.


Cliff Yankovich said...

I watched 5 minutes of that show and couldn't watch any more. Why do we want to parade these people on television? I don't get it.
But then I can't watch American Idol either, so I am not much use to TV programmers!

Anthony said...

I can't watch "Idol" either. Maybe "Hoarders" is similar? People with defects (whether singing or habitual) want to parade themselves on TV.
I'm not sure why people want to go on Dr. Phil's show either. If, of course, they are genuinely screwed up and not actors filling-in for real screwed up people.

I have no doubt about the "Hoarders" crowd though. I suspect that my condo neighbor is harboring a storage facility in her home. She was conveniently not at home when the assessor showed up.

Anthony said...

kcoz: On one of the recent "Hoarders" shows, a woman admitted to running up $200,000 in purchases of stuff to fill her home. I have no idea how many credit cards that is, but it's a lot. That I know.
Another had rented 3 storage facilities outside her home (which was already filled) to keep the stuff. Ironically, she WORKED at one, so she kept everything people brought in. What a great job for someone with a mental disorder.

susan said...

Did the tax man give you a break when he saw the magnificat Thor?

Thanks for posting the piccy.

NOthing on TV I agree with you. I like watching cat TV,. sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea, watching the birds and the squirrels while she sits in the window sill thumping her tail at them and salivating.