I don’t know how much you know about hoarding, and honestly if I had to have a bumper sticker about my association with hoarding, it would say, “Everything I know about hoarding I learned from watching Hoarders on A&E.” That’s kind of wordy, so I’d probably have to buy a Hummer to fit my bumper sticker.
But what I’ve learned from watching Hoarders, which is really a documentary series on the pathological collecting behavior, is that it is a psychological problem. It is a devastating, life-destroying, family-destroying behavior that needs treatment — years and years of treatment to overcome, and even then, like drug addictions and alcohol addictions, there’s always the chance of relapse. These are mentally ill people. They don’t want to be like they are, but they don’t know how to NOT be like they are, and anyone who suffers from OCD or depression or mental illness can probably relate to that feeling.
Just save this ONE newspaper. And this one. And this one. And before you know it, you’re buried under six tons of newspapers. I have watched episodes in which a woman who regularly attended church and put on the appearances of normalcy, saved all of her urine and feces in jars and lived among tons and tons of trash in absolute life-threatening squalor. When her pastor learned of her living conditions, he wept.
I saw a man hoard hundreds and hundreds of rats when he couldn’t emotionally deal with his wife’s death.
I’ve seen families torn apart and hoarders choose their hoards over their children’s safety and well-being.
It take psychiatrists, therapists, “extreme cleaning specialists” and professional organizers to help a hoarder overcome their behavior. It is not a switch a hoarder chooses to flip.
So I’m just disgusted. Absolutely beyond disgusted with KDKA and Marty Griffin that they would choose to shame a hoarder in this way.
Marty Griffin: “Sir, do you have any intention of leaving, sir? Any intention at all of leaving? No, sir? What is going on in here, sir? Can you tell us at all?”
Now, first, this hoarder needs to leave. I agree. Like many hoarders, he will be forced to leave when the authorities come and take him away. What he is doing is illegal, staying beyond his lease, damaging property, and staying beyond the request to leave.
I get that. This situation is for the authorities, his family, the landlord, and hopefully the owner to work out. It’s her property. It’s her money.
This is NOT for KDKA to get involved in and say, “Look at this man. Look at him. Shame on him. Shame on his hoard. Shame on his junk. Look how he lives like an animal. What are you doing in there, sir? What’s going on in here, sir? Can you move your hand a bit so our viewing audience can see you for the animal you are? Does this shame make you want to leave? ”
What was accomplished here?
I think news stories should serve one of several purposes and I can’t see what purpose this story served other than to shame a troubled, mentally ill man. At least the show Hoarders has the approval of the hoarder and the goal of course is to HELP the hoarder, which they do by providing treatment, continuing therapy, cleaning, hauling and more, for free. Sure they’re serving our reality-age voyeuristic desires by showing us what they do, but at least the troubled people are helped. Families are saved.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s shows like Hoarders that made Marty Griffin and KDKA think this was okay. Maybe we created this monster.
But what was the point, KDKA? Was it to persuade us to action? Well, I can’t imagine a news report is going to make a judge or police force move any faster. Are we the people going to grab our pitchforks and torches and run that man out of that apartment? If you wanted to incite his family to action to help him, there are ways to do that OTHER than shoving a camera into his face and asking ridiculous questions.
Marty talked to the county health department who indicated they’ll have a plan of action by tomorrow. Was that before or after Marty filmed the man? If it was before, then WHY GO FILM THE MAN? If it was after, then WHY AIR THE FOOTAGE AND THE STORY?!
Were you hoping to shame him into leaving? Shaming a hoarder will not make him stop hoarding or leave his hoard any more than shaming an alcoholic will make him stop drinking.
It wasn’t an entertaining story. It wasn’t useful in any way. It didn’t teach my anything. It didn’t explain to me what purpose it hoped to serve.
It was shoddy journalism that accomplished nothing other than giving Marty Griffin a chance to stand up on his tall, self-built pedestal and shove a microphone and a camera down into the face of a desperate man sitting sadly at rock bottom.
I’m absolutely disgusted and it’s a sad day when a journalist disgusts me more than a man living among 6 tons of garbage.