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Posts Tagged ‘hoarders’

E. L. Doctorow has written a novel based on the legend of the Collyer brothers of New York City.  It is not based on the known historical facts of Homer Lusk Collyer and Langley Collyer.  The legend has given Doctorow the freedom to go wherever his two main characters lead him in his forgiving, gentle account of the socially and emotionally troubled brothers.

The brothers were hoarders, recluses, and paranoid, and that is perhaps only scratching the surface.  They attracted reporters and writers during their lifetime and death has been no hinderance to that interest.  They proved brothers can not hide when they live in a large Fifth Avenue New York City mansion, and they cause people to speculate on their wealth.  A rundown house in rural Alabama is a better location for recluses looking for success.

Don’t burden your reading of Homer & Langley by first checking on the historical facts.  Read it for the pleasure it has to offer; after the book, look up the historical facts at WikipediA under Collyer brothers.   The facts after reading the novel are an interesting counterpoint.

No one will ever know the full story of the brothers as the details of their lives were smothered in the 136 tons of junk and waste taken out of their residence.  Nor can hoarders’ clutter speak to relationships.  Clutter is the absence of relationships.  Charles Marlin

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It makes for entertaining reality television and you can work up some great stories; but for the families, associates, landlords, and neighbors, it is hellish.  Hoarders defy understanding because understanding assumes they would be normal if not for the trash choking their life and their one bad habit.  No, hoarders are mentally ill, probably suffering from more than one illness.

Matt Paxton and co-author Phaedra Hise have written from Paxton’s experience as a hoarder specialist The Secret Lives Of Hoarders: True Stories Of Tackling Extreme Clutter.  Mixed in with pop psychology are lists of things that work as well as things not likely to work.

You can not force an ill person to become well by yelling at them or making threats and dire predictions.  What you see as junk and filth, the hoarder sees as part of who they are and vital to their existence.  Imagine your own outrage if all your vehicles and driver’s license were taken from you by angry relatives because of two traffic violations.  If those relatives are smart, they will take your guns first and vehicle second.

Whatever the eventual plan of action is, it is critical that open, trusted communication is established and that respect is repeatedly demonstrated.  The plan of action will fail if it is rushed with the hoarder given no say in how things are to be handled.

There must be an intense followup to any effort to get rid of the clutter or the mentally ill person will continue to engage life as they have in the past; they will hoard.  There must be therapy, frequent contact by those the hoarder trusts, and covenant agreed to by all parties and is something the hoarder can maintain with a little help.  Remedial help should be planned and waiting.  With everything and person in place that should be there, the chance of success is very slim.

Close family and associates should educate themselves, as with this book and other books, so they understand the anger and rage a hoarder stimulates in others.  No one likes to have their attention and understanding turned against them by an ill person.  Make no mistake, the mentally ill hoarder will abuse your good intentions unless you place controls on what they can do to you.  Charles Marlin

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