Saturday, September 17, 2011


Nobody's business or threat to us all?

Recently our sorry excuse for a news source published pictures of the inside of a hoarder's condo. The mess just didn't consist of size 10 dresses with broken zippers that the owner hoped to fit into again one day or magazine articles that they just haven't gotten around to reading. No, the mess consisted of rotting food, feces, assorted trash, 30 bicycles... The smelly  mess has attracted all sorts of vermin and the authorities have ordered the condo association to clean it all up. The condo association? Well they can bill the owner if they'd like..
So in other words, the neighbors are going to be stuck cleaning up after this psycho.

It was strange, the public reaction. Many felt sorry for the poor hoarder, his privacy invaded with the photos published on-line. He is mentally ill, he can't help himself.

No sympathy here. A couple of years ago, a condo caught on fire in the complex where we have our 'investment'. I am not sure if the hoarder's habits led to the fire but it certainly made putting the fire out difficult plus it was difficult to rescue the hoarder. The neighbors were furious as their property (and lives if this had been in the middle of the night)was in jeopardy. The insurance rates went up right after that (as did the association fees). Not quite a victimless crime.

I occasionally watch the hoarding shows. Some of the hoarders are just collectors. Things all organized in boxes but their habit has caused them financial hardship. I don't have much problems with them unless kids are involved. But the ones who can't ever throw anything away, even a banana peel..
So on these shows (who would agree to be on one of these? free help?), the formula is to bring in some sort of therapist who tries to figure out what each object means to the hoarder. The hoarder usually admits there is a problem and agrees to do what ever it takes to clean up the place but as soon as the first object is up to be discarded, they panic.

The man who my father stupidly invited into his home in return for care (which was never provided) was a hoarder; a hard thing to be  when one is  basically homeless. He had a formula: weasel his way into homes and then not leave until the homeowner goes through the long, expensive eviction process and still wait until he is physically removed. In the short time he was there, he turned my parents' home into a trash filled rat's nest. My father tripping over his mess indirectly led to his death. We paid twice to have all this stuff removed.

My father had a variation of hoarding: he could not bring himself to spend any money without feeling some sort of pain. He paid all his bills on time but on every check, he would write on the check itself how the company doesn't deserve this much money, etc. He was profoundly cheap, never would tip, etc yet he had money. His self worth was in proportion to how much money he had squirreled in a bank. He would alternately brag to his friends how much money he had with how poor he was. Why was he like this? Who knows..he was raised in the lap of luxury, his father being a very successful physician but suffice it to say, life with him was very difficult and when I could, I left and didn't look back. Unfortunately my poor mother was stuck with this crazy man.

A few years before his death, I got a call from a social worker telling me this sad story on how my father was starving (though about 80 pounds overweight) and couldn't even afford the meals on wheels. She had gone to great effort to bargain the price down to a dollar a meal but still, this was too much. Would it be possible if I would pay for this as he had told them that I had a 'good' job? I told her not to waste one bit of sympathy on him. Though I didn't know how much money he had, I could assure her that it was more than what she and I had put together.

It was once thought that hoarding was a compulsive behavior disorder similar to those who can't leave the house, excessively hand wash, afraid of this and that but once medications were developed to address OCD, it was noticed that they had no effect on hoarders; they have a different errant pathway in their brain which has yet to be addressed successfully.

But hoarders have many victims..

1 comment:

Teri Bernstein said...

Sue...this is all so sad. Any one of us could feel need and desperation and be in the same hoarding state. I am grateful every day that I have the energy and clarity to let go....


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