Hoarding is a popular topic these days and there were a few interesting pieces in the media this past week.
The Smoking Gun has an article about an FBI employee who took classified documents home and when caught he pleaded, “I’m a hoarder.” Unfortunately, there is no credible primary source for this item. All outside articles point back to the Smoking Gun. Nevertheless, this article does raise some serious questions. The American Psychiatric Association has been discussing making hoarding a separate condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). When and if that happens, will hoarders be considered mentally handicapped and protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? What would “reasonable accomodation” look like? And rather than firing a hoarder for taking confidential information home without authorization will an employer be required to offer help through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? Will getting help from a professional organizer be covered by insurance? Will governments be obligated to pay for cleaning up after their poorer citizens? Hmmm.
Anderson Cooper had an episode, “My Mom is a Hoarder” and in the audience was Miranda, a recovering hoarder who had appeared on TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive. Afterwards she shared her thoughts with the producers. It’s worth a listen. Everyone needs help sometimes and it shouldn’t be embarassing to ask for it. Congratulations and good luck to Miranda, recovery is a long hard road.
Finally, we had a sad news item here in metro DC. The local ABC affiliate talked about a fire at a hoarder’s house in Maryland and had a bunch of photos of hoarders’ homes from several counties in the area. It’s a tragic event. Hoarder’s homes are often filled with flammables, combustibles, toxic chemicals and other biological hazards. The situation gets even worse as the home falls in to disrepair due to lack of access, lack of funds or an unwillingness to let repairman in to maintain the structure. A fire can rage out of control despite fire fighters’ best efforts and the home can become practically impassable even without a fire. We can only hope that people at risk take Miranda’s advice and reach out for the support of their family, friends, and the help of professionals.