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How has hoarding developed in the recent past?
If probably you have never encountered a hoarder you must have seen Clutterbuck from either television shows or entertainment series. People with hoarding characteristics find it difficult to discard items but excessively save and acquire new ones. Hoarding disorder prevalence affects up to 6 percent of the world population (Albert 355). The hoarding concept was rarely mentioned until the mid-1990s, apart from few scholars such as Sigmund Freud, who explained the behavior genesis during the anal stage when the child is two and one years old. Erick Fromm seems to pick up from where Sigmund left and observes that hoarding orientation is a personality character that comes with exploitative, marketing, and capitalistic markets. Hoarding is characterized by misery dispositions with obsessive to the procession of both intangible and tangible resources. The current capitalistic characteristics of mass production and obsessiveness with ability to amass wealth in contemporary U.S societies tend to foster the disorder. At the turn of 21-century literature, he started growing concerning hoarding concepts with scholars such as Bowman and his work on ‘hamburger hoarding’. The woman in the article obsessed with hoarding hamburger meat described as “suffering from bizarre behaviors and symptoms linked with schizophrenia” (Albert and et al. 358). Such publications started putting hoarding behaviour into the spotlight as a psychological disorder and not a personality flaw.
The growing awareness and subsequent classification of hoarding as separate mental disorders remain critical for the development of evidence-based practice in finding effective therapies. The media has played an instrumental role in creating awareness, but the disorder’s dramatization may result in grave misconceptions and ignorance from the same audience, hence stigmatizing health-seeking behaviors. The growing literature on the subject matter seems to raise more awareness about the behavior to the public and became a subject of research to the psychiatrists, psychologists, and other healthcare workers. Hoarding became asymptomatic characteristics of other disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. The increasing use of diagnostic tools by scholars indicated the growing influence of research to investigate the subject matter and bring it to the limelight to the public. Wide publication and increased media attention on the matter has continued to raise awareness in the public discourse on the matter.
Media has played an instrumental role in making hoarding a visible and understandable behavior to the general public. For instance, hoarders buried alive provide an example of a television series shows that brought the disorder into limelight through media and entertainment. The digital media also features websites such as ‘SQUALOR SURVIVORS, ‘CHILDREN OF HOARDERS’ which feed the public with more information concerning the hoarding disorder (Shaeffer 17). The intersection between science and public awareness through media seems to have created a growing discussion and the development of the topic in recent decades.
Role of media attention to creating public sensitization on hoarding
Due to the increased media shows such as the ones highlighted, scholars, scientists and the general public started understanding the concept and gaining a clue about the behavior defects associated with hoarding behavior. The media seems to shape the public view about hoarding and bring into attention the disorder through a series of content focusing on hoarders’ behaviors. Today a scan into the literature about hoarding produces hundreds of books, television series, journals, and articles published in the subject matter. Many scholars, physicians, psychologists, and other stakeholders seem to have worked well in collaboration with the media fraternity to disseminate most of the information about the disorder in more appealing, simple, and easily captivating stories to the general public (Shaeffer 17). The growing sensitization of the disorder seems to reflect the convergence of interest between media scholars and healthcare medical practitioners.
Positive impacts of media attention to scholar’s attention to evidence-based research on hoarding
As a result of hoarding publicity in media, many scholars, scientists and doctors started focusing on seeking evidence-based approaches to addressing the hoarding disorder. Many scientific studies and theoretical underpinnings rose from many scholars and psychiatrists who ventured into scientific investigation of the subject matter. The emergence of treatment approaches to hoarding disorders such as cognitive behavior therapy and the use of drugs to control behavior made most of the patients come out for seeking treatments in recent years than in the past. American Psychiatric Association Observed that the official classification of hoarding behaviors into DSM of mental disorders in 2013 and subsequent development of treatment approaches seem to have stimulated more interest in the subject matter for the scholars (39). After recognition of hoarding as a separate mental disorder according to American DSM criteria in 2013, it has become emerging issue with many task forces with a focus on education and training.
On the flipside, the media has also recognized it as part of the entertainment, unfortunately driving the narrative with extreme examples to draw viewers’ attention in an entertainment endeavour (Lepselter, 942). The practice makes the emerging issue narrowed down into entertainment scenes through edited scenes to draw attention and entertainment. It results in stigmatization and stereotyping of people with hoarding disorder based on attitudes developed from the television shows. The characters in those television shows exhibit ridiculous and antisocial characteristics which become the subject of humor and negative attitudes forming about such people in society. Such perceptions become a recipe for stigmatization of hoarders in society and may also make them not willing to talk about their struggles with it to society (Lepselter 951). The viewers may fail to capture the basics and full health threats that come with many patients in America and globally who suffer from psychological, social, physical, and economic torture that comes with the disorder.
The focus on media to dramatize hoarding and using it as a method of creating wariness and entertainment seem to be promoted by the fact that wealth gaps between the classes seem to widen. The contemporary capitalistic market creates a few people at the top of the pyramid, with approximately 1 percent of the wealthiest people holding wealth equivalent to what is owned by the rest 99 percent of the world population. The behaviors described in hoarding include difficulty discarding items or wealth, the clutter of the compound with processions, and distress in building social relationships. These characteristics observed in hoarding encompass what some traits prominent with the modern culture of mass Consumerism in America (Lepselter 9 25). While the behavior of Consumerism and capitalism are seen as acceptable behaviors, hoarding is often ridiculed and perceived as abnormal behavior. However, the two are synonymous since when become obsessed with capitalism and mass consumerism behavior, they develop similar characteristics with hoarders. The economic gap evident in modern society is a clear indication of the deepening class divide and more people developing characteristics that mirror that of hoarders. These are people who are extremely rich but do little to give back to society on what they may not need in their lives. The top social, economic class remain visible and more like a caste with more wealth accumulation going to the top richest individuals. According to Herring, economic separation is visible with the level of salaries, profits, education, and health among several other economic well-being parameters the human race is intrinsically egocentric, and most people in the capitalistic world would want to amass wealth to feel secure with their generations (43). Perhaps this explains why it becomes easier to create humor in modern society in the media using extreme hoarding disorder characteristics. Hoarding is a common phenomenon that seems to give more reflection into a modern obsession with material culture and wealth accumulation in the contemporary globalized world. The top richest people continue to exploit more opportunities and do little to breach the gap between the poor and the rich.
Albert, U., et al. “Hoarding disorder: a new obsessive-compulsive related disorder in DSM-5.” Journal of Psychopathology 21.4 (2015): 354-364.
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub, 2013.
Herring, Scott. The hoarders: Material deviance in modern American culture. University of Chicago Press, 2014.
Lepselter, Susan. “The disorder of things: Hoarding narratives in popular media.” Anthropological Quarterly (2011): 919-947.
Shaeffer, Megan K. A social history of hoarding behavior. Diss. Kent State University, 2012.