Abnormal Psychology and Popular Culture Hoarding

Abnormal Psychology and Popular Culture Hoarding

AbnormalPsychology and Popular Culture: Hoarding

Intoday’s world, the problems and topics concerned with abnormalpsychology have become a commonplace for popular culture. Newspapers,the internet, movies and television shows, expose the currentgeneration to issues that abnormal psychologists, researchers, andclinicians deal with everyday in their lives. People who suffer fromhoarding disorder are now famous because of the aired A&ampEdocumentary series named as” Hoarders”. For example, eachepisode of the television show “Hoarders” features two differentpeople who have a behavior pattern of acquiring items in excess andlater stores them in a disorderly manner with no intention to discardthem, in spite of their value. Each episode shows these people not incontrol of their ability to part with their excessive belongings.Consequently, they experience a personal crisis. These people needhelp in spite of them facing jail time, eviction, loss of theirchildren, and divorce. According to Timpano and Shaw (2014), hoardersengage in compulsive behavior with an attempt to alleviate discomfortor pain.

Describetolerance and withdrawal

Thebasic characteristic of hoarding is associated with emotionallyfortified saving behavior patterns. A hoarder feels excited toacquire things that they are emotionally attached to. Therefore, heor she feels rewarded when a new item is added to his or hercollection. For this reason, development of tolerance occurs wheremore and more hoarding becomes a pattern. This behavior patterncombined with excessive acquisition leads to impairment, distress,and clutter (Ayers, Ly, Howard, Mayes, Porter, and Iqba, 2014).Therefore, emotional processes play a key role in hoarding. Severalresearchers have linked hoarding with various features of emotionalavoidance and intolerance. In a study that was conducted by Timpanoet al., (2014) about the relationship between hoarding and emotionalprocesses, it showed that hoarders experience lower tolerance ofnegative emotions and also they see negative emotions as a threat.Those people who engage in high hoarding tend to experience moreemotions than those who are low hoarders. Therefore, high hoardersexperience negative emotions and report lower tolerance of theseemotions (Ayers et al., 2014). That is why they find it difficult todiscard invaluable items they had already acquired. The emotionsaccompanied by loosing those items become hard to bear. The more aperson hoards, the more the emotions associated with discardingbecomes intense and threatening. Withdrawing from hoarding behaviorleads to symptoms like pure panic and anxiety (Steketee and Ayers,2014).

Inseason 1 episode 1 of “Hoarders” Jill seemed to be emotionallyattached to her rotten foodstuffs to a point of telling the cleanernot to barge into her things without notifying her first. She isreluctant to discard food stuffs that are already expired. Her reasonof not getting rid of these food stuffs is that they are expensiveand she cannot afford to buy others. She also thinks that her itemsare valuable or useful in the near future. Jill had a tray of eggsshe had kept for almost a year and the reason for not throwing awayor eating was because she was given as a birthday gift, and accordingto her, they were irreplaceable and unique. The decision to throwaway these rotten and expired foodstuffs seemed to engulf her insideregardless of the bacterial infection she could have gotten forconsuming them. The cleaner had to assure her that they would buy herother foodstuffs. Jill faced eviction if she failed to do a cleanup.

Inthe case of Ron and Jennifer, their hoarding behavior has affectedtheir children. They cannot invite their friends over to their homeand also when the cleanup was being done, Jill’s son could notimagine the site of their smashed play station. His reaction led to afamily crisis. Jennifer engages in hoarding to deal with pain oflosing her father when she was young. Jennifer and Ron/ Jill arescared of the whole process of addressing hoarding but it is time tolet go.

Analyzevarious types of impulse behaviors

Hoarderstend to act on impulse. When shopping, they do not think about theconsequences of piling things in their homes without throwing themaway. Most hoarders are spenders. American Psychiatric Association(2013) suggests that there is a relationship between impulse controlproblems and hoarding. This is because hoarders acquire excessiveitems and they experience a hard time throwing them away. Almostseventy five percent of hoarders buy items in excess and nearly fiftypercent like to obtain free things in excess (Ayers et al., 2014).Jill buys excessive food stuffs as long as they are inexpensiveforgetting that there are some in the house. In episode 2, patty isnot able to control her impulses, so Linda finds it difficult toclean up the house. Losing her items becomes too painful to bear.They later decided to sell it.

Hoarderswith Obsessive Compulsive personality Disorder are more likely toover control their impulses than other hoarders. They are overlyworried about throwing things that they think might harm other peopleor pollute the environment. Therefore, they end up storing them intheir homes. Other people think that discarding items is wrong. Theypreoccupy themselves with excessive conscientiousness, ethics, andmorals only to realize that the clutter they are keeping isdestructive to their lives. According to Timpano et al., (2014), overcontrol of impulse can also lead to a person not able to complete onetask a time. This is because he or she becomes engrossed in numeroussmall details in his or her house. For instance, in episode three,Betty considers herself as a rescuer (saver) of things instead of ahoarder.

Evaluatethe effectiveness of the proscribed treatment methods.

Inmost of the episodes, the hoarders illustrate resistance to treatmentand consequently, the family members become affected. In season 1episode 3, Betty is reluctant for a clean up even after the courtorders that her husband can only return to their home after theclutter is no more. Most of the hoarders admit that they have aproblem, but refuse their family members to clean the house. I thinkthe treatment methods used in this show works for only some hoarders.After facing eviction, most of them seek the help of professionalorganizers and therapists. The professional organizers give theirclients a chance to choose whether they need help or not. Then thenext step is to allow the hoarders to make decisions on what to throwaway. No items are discarded without the permission of the owner. Thedecision rests with the hoarder and if he or she becomes resistantfor treatment, the cleanup is not done but more intensive treatmentmethods are used like counseling and cognitive therapy. The familymembers are involved in the clean up to help with the treatment. Whenthe cleaning is going on, the organizer or a therapist not only makesure that the hoarder understands the effects of clutter in theirplace of living, but also demonstrates the willingness to support andhelp with the disorder. All the participants also ensure that thathoarder has a clear understanding that treatment is crucial. As thetreatment progresses, the professional organizer are able to addressany issues that may arise. Steketee et al., (2014) suggests thatcommitment to treatment is vital when making an intervention.

Throughthese treatment methods, hoarders in several episodes have been ableto acquire good decision-making and organizational skills whilsttrying to comprehend the basis for hoarding disorder. Some of theimportant intervention elements that the organizer or therapistdiscusses with the client are like the advantages and disadvantagesof engaging in hoarding behavior, the logic behind discarding someirrelevant items and stopping the behavior, and one’s values andgoals are hindered by hoarding. In the season 1 episode 3, Bill getstreatment and is able to learn and adopt good organizational skillslater on in his life. The prescribed treatment method is effectivebecause at the end of the treatment most people gain a clearunderstanding of their disorder even though they might not havecleared all the clutter. According to Steketee et al., (2014), familytherapy, CBT, individual therapy, motivational interviewing, psychoeducation, and couple’s therapy should be incorporated in treatmentof hoarding for effective results.

Analyzeand reflect upon your thoughts, action, or emotional reactions to theprogram

Itis very important that the TV show “Hoarders” have unleashed avery shameful and secretive disorder that five percent of Americansexperience. The aim of this program is to encourage such people andfamilies to seek for help. The therapeutic guidance and assistancedepicted in the show is of tremendous help to people. Through thisprogram, more and more researchers have decided to research hoardingand gain knowledge of how to treat hoarding disorder. On the otherhand, the treatment and the disorder itself have been misinformed.For instance, the show depicts that the disorder can be treatedwithin few days without significant treatment methods like CBT. Thehoarders are also exposed to unrealistic expectations, which some ofthem are unable to meet. Such interventions lessen the basic capacityof treatment of mental health.

Overcominghoarding is very painful hence it should not be taken lightly.Therefore, cleanup companies and organizers should be portrayed askey partners but not as the key holders of the whole process ofintervention and treatment. Sadly, the program reflects hoarding as aclutter problem when we all know that it is associated with thinkingand perception problem.

Inconclusion, the treatment success of hoarding is determined by howpatient, compassionate, and supportive one’ family is and by thelevel of commitment and motivation of the affected person.


AmericanPsychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnosticand Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders: DSM-5(5th edn). American Psychiatric Publishing: Washington, DC.

Ayers,R. C., Ly, P., Howard, I., Mayes, T., Porter, B., &amp Iqba, Y.(2014). Hoarding severity predicts functional disability inlate-life hoarding disorder patients. GeriatricPsychiatry, 29, 741-746.

Steketee,G. &amp , Ayers, R. C. (2014). Challenges in Treating Hoarding inMidlife and Older Adults. Retrieved fromhttps://www.adaa.org/sites/default/files/Steketee_Master- Clinician.pdf

Timpano,R. K., &amp Shaw, M. S. (2014) A Multifaceted Assessment ofEmotional Tolerance and Intensity in Hoarding. Behavior Therapy,45(5), 690-696. doi:10.1016/j.beth.2014.04.002