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.