7 Episodes on 2 Discs, released December 14, 2010
"Hoarders" on A&E is still one of the most compelling shows I have seen. It's like a car crash you can't look away from. And I wouldn't be surprised if it made you question your own potential to hoard things and clean out what you don't need as an affirmation of your own mental health.
The show focuses people whose entire lives have been utterly consumed by clutter and possessions, most of which are absolute junk. The inability to part with any of these items even if they are covered in mold or feces means many of them are facing threats of eviction, divorce, having their children removed from them, or even going to jail. There are over three million people suffering from obsessive compulsive hoarding in the United States and each episode tells two of their stories.
Hoarding is a psychological, painful disease where people are lost inside their own world with their stuff. Their stuff most of the time is more valuable to them than human relationships. It affects a large range of people from all walks of life, but the one thing they all have in common is their quality of life degrading all around them and being unaware of it. One woman lost her dentures in her house somewhere and has just gone along gumming it rather than clean up and look for them. When the cleaning crew manages to locate them, she goes as if to pop them right back in when they inform her of all the disgusting things they have been sitting in and she finally acquiesces the need to disinfect them probably.
One man has a gigantic collection of beer cans...and he doesn't drink beer. He has decided they are collectibles and while cleaning the rest of his house, still cannot let any of them go. The cleaning crew fixes up a garage and displays all the cans proudly in rows on shelves for him and the man still can't seem to be happy about it.
This season brought out more cat skeletons, more feces, and even more disgusting -- people whose bathrooms haven't worked for years and they have been content with pooping in a bag and throwing it somewhere. EWWWW!! One woman had been tying herself to a chair in her kitchen at night to go to sleep because 1) there is nowhere else to sleep and 2) one time she fell off her chair in the middle of the night and was immediately covered by stuff and almost died before someone found her. Terrifying.
Chances are less than fifty-fifty of the hoarders letting their houses and yards be completely cleaned because they often hold up the process by going through trash bags making sure that the broken stuff thrown away was REALLY broken or a piece of paper they needed isn't tossed by mistake. They have major trust issues with others in their space and stare suspiciously and accuse everyone of malicious intentions. For that 40 percent or so that make it through the end of clean-up, the victory is a relief to all and with follow up care in therapy, they have a chance of making a change. Those who turn down the follow up help usually fall back into old patterns quickly.
Usually, the psychologists and professional organizers brought in to work on the project are completely professional and try to work through every item getting thrown away with the affected hoarder. This season, some of that professionalism was tested by rude, screaming, disrespectful hoarders freaking out on them. I personally LOVED seeing that last straw snap on occasion so the helper could tell the hoarder how selfish they were being, how they were affecting their family, and threaten to walk away and leave them in this mess to stew. That usually was a game changer! I hate seeing them get so babied all the time and some of them needed to WAKE UP and see how bad their lives had become and stop fighting over a dish they were never going to use.