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10 Things I learned from the TV show hoarders


Table of Contents

Can we learn something from the TV show hoarders?

I have a sick obsession with the TV show, “Hoarders” – more specifically, the psychologists and the organizers that participate in the show. I have observed that often the professional organizers specializing in hoarding disorders are much more clued in than the psychologists are.

As a person and avid student of everything personal development, and a teacher of NLP and emotional intelligence, I think the show is chock full of amazingness.

Top 10 lessons from the TV show “Hoarders”

1. The state of the interior of a person’s home is often an indication of what the inside of their mind looks like.

2. People adapt to their environment to the point that they experience what is called “hedonic adaptation.” Basically, this means – you get used to it. They can live inside a space filled with visible feces, dead cats and rotten food and it is completely normal to them. (This is what is called a level 5 hoard, which is the worst kind.)

3. The disorder (and dysfunction) of hoarding can be taught by a family member who was a hoarder. This doesn’t necessarily mean that if your parent is a hoarder you will also be one, though.

4. More often than not, the shift into hoarding it seems, is triggered by an important loss.

5. Someone can go from being a neat freak to a hoarder due to trauma or (a traumatic) grief.

6. There is a difference between Obsessive Hoarding and Hoarding Disorder. Obsessive Hoarding is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is characterized by compulsive irrational thoughts, often believing that bad things will happen if they throw or even give items away. Hoarding disorder is characterized by a person believing that their hoarded objects have value and therefore resists getting rid of them.

7. The hoarder thinks they have an entirely normal thought pattern around why they keep stuff and why they do not want to get rid of anything.

8. You must give people a feeling of control when they clean their house (and their thoughts.) Actually, if you randomly start purging their hoard, it decreases their chance of success.

9. People who love you are willing to show up and help – even if you have 60 dead cats underneath 3 years of feces…or if you have collected 1000s of pet rats.

And my favorite:

10. When you walk into someone’s hoarded house and observe their shocking way of living and their mentally ill world, you simply ask in a kind inquisitive voice, “Can you tell me what is going on here?”

I love the non-judgement. Almost all of these hoarder lessons have been food for my work as a personal development professional and NLP trainer. Which begs the question: can you use NLP to help with hoarding disorder?


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