'Hoarders' new update edition: Failures pile up. The show helps almost no one.

The Monday Hoarders marathon culminated in a new, first-season update episode. It followed up on the progress of five of the show’s grottiest hoarders. The results were not heartening: Four out of five were still jamming their houses with useless knickknacks, food, old newspapers, and heaven only knows what else.

In fact, the implicit promise of the series — that its subjects can be helped with the combination of public exposure (via the Hoarders camera crew filming) and private counseling — was shown to be a joke. Betty, Paul, Jill, and Bill all reverted to their pack-rat ways pretty much as soon as the Hoarders crew pulled out of their driveways, continuing to inflict misery upon their families.

Only the youngest subject, Jake, in his 20s, could be deemed a success. Visited “one year later,” as were all the hoarders, his house was tidy. You might recall that Jake had another problem hanging around his house — his father, who drank so much that, a year earlier, he had chatted with the camera crew while sitting outside on the ground, a glass of booze in his hand. Now, Hoarders told us this evening, Dad has “stopped drinking, for the most part.” “One or two beers a day,” he assured us. Was this a back-door pilot for a new A&E series, Alcoholics?

I guess it’s admirable that Hoarders showed us just how difficult it is to overcome the habit. But when I think of all the psychobabble we had to listen to over the course of the season from the trained professionals brought in to help these subjects, I now think, what a waste of nearly everyone’s time.

And I can’t think of any reason why I (or you) would keep watching for a second season, can you?

Comments (135 total) Add your comment
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  • Teya

    Maybe if they would find people who genuinely want to change instead of these ungrateful nutjobs the outcomes would be different

    • dani

      I thought the people were bought in to help because some of them wanted to bring their children home or they were getting evicted or they were going to jail. Its not A&E’s fault these people aren’t learning. The entire cycle is ridiculous and sad.

      • Nevena

        Hola soy de Torrdembarra. Me acbaan de depedir y no me piden que entregue el finiquito firmado. No se si es un riesgo entregar el finiquito firmado sin antes haber recibido el dinero en mi cuenta. Es sabio esperar la transferencia y despues entregarlo?

  • tessa

    so sad, i have a loved one who is a hoarder…and its close to impossible helping …

    • LOL

      This is just a freak show. People only watch to see the awfulness.

      • Snarf

        Agreed. Shadenfruede at it’s worst (or is that best?)

    • Maria

      it a point you refuse to naagtvie to the hoarding behavior. a0Relaxation is one other technique of hoarding treatment that you can use to dictate your hoarding behavior. Have a look at deep inhale each time you be

  • nat

    I was always sceptical with this show. Sweeping in for two days, practically pushing the people to clean up, and then disappearing with only the promise of counselling always seemed unrealistic. To behave as if a mental disorder can be fixed in such a short amount of time is just silly. I don’t understand why they don’t follow the subjects for a longer period…if you’re going to try to help the people, why not stick around long enough to actually have a prolonged impact?

    • Q

      All I learned from yesterday’s marathon is that the goal of this show is not, in fact, to help them – only to exploit. I am very heartened to hear that at least Jake is doing OK – I didn’t watch the update show because I sensed it would be dismal.

      • Glowbug

        the show is taking the wrong approach to just show up and expect real change–before even one thing is thrown away a couple months of therapy should proceed the cleanup and really get these people to understand how they have destroyed their lives and alienated love ones for —stuff—there is no sane reason for a person to hoard old food–this is mental illness and it is exploiting sick people—most of the hoarders use the stuff to push people out of their lives–

    • Caroline

      I agree with you Nat that sweeping in for two days will not solve what appears to be a lifelong problem for many of the people featured on the show. I do think that most of the people that are shown are in need of quick help to diffuse some sort of legal situation (potentially losing the house, having children taken away, or having APS step in). Most of the people on the show need to show the courts or other agency some good faith effort. That is what the show captures and I most of the therapist features on the program say that future success depends on continued counseling and hard work on the part of the Hoarder.

    • Helenann

      I don’t think any scientist would slap two days of Prozac on a severely depressed person and call them cured, so why did A&E even try this with a just as serious anxiety disorder? Nat, your comments are spot on.

  • Heather

    If they’d approached these hoarders like Intervention, instead of like Extreme Home Makeover, the chances of achieving success would have gone up. Not by much, because we’re talking a serious mental disorder, but the reality is, cleaning up the houses is merely a band aid.

    • Renie

      You are so right. This disorder needs treatment ongoing, not a quick fix.

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  • John

    How about it’s just a fascinating show to watch. It’s like watching a car crash. . . there’s the reason to watch.

    • patsy202

      Yes, agreed. And, frankly, anyone who thought this show was created solely to help people is a fool! Come on, people! You can’t be that naive! That being said, I was disappointed that some of these folks had reverted to their old ways.

      • Me

        I am sure some of these people are helped with followup therary. They just don’t show that because it might not get the ratings.

      • Edit

        Type your cmemont You may use these HTML tags: <a> <abbr> <acronym> <b> <blockquote> <cite> <code> <del> <em> <i> <pre> <q> <strike> <strong>

    • mikalina

      Exactly right. tragic mental problem to be stuck with. it is not the networks job to fix mental illness – their point is to get ratings and I find the show fascinating. mostly I feel such gratitude that I did not get snagged with that addiction and it seems to be the worst one with the least liklihood of recovery. It is oh so devastating to the family and yet it is clear the hoarder is paralyzed to change it.

  • JunieGirl

    They never claimed that they were “fixing” the problem in the course of the show. There’s always an epilogue comment stating that with “aftercare funds”, the subject has the option to continue counseling or working with an organizer. The fact is that most of the subjects don’t think anything is wrong with them, so they don’t continue with the hard work of getting better.

    I would still watch the show, but I have no illusions that they are “cured” of their hoarding compulsion during the episode. It is a good warning for me–I could easily become a hoarder if I didn’t work to keep it at bay.

    • Cookie

      Absolutely-hoarding is one of the hardest conditions to overcome. Both hubby and I have hoarding tendencies and I’m working on it, but he gets mad when I get rid of stuff. Most hoarders don’t see a problem, that’s why it gets so bad. At least this show helps get conditions in the home to a point where it could be managable, and they do provide aftercare funds. It’s been a great warning for me too…everytime I watch it I am motivated to tackle another shelf or cardboard box of stuff.

      • Tovah

        That’s exactly why I watch–as a warning. I have some hoarding tendencies as well (I could show you pictures of my room growing up that wouldn’t look so different from the show!) and everytime I watch it motivates me to move further and further away from those tendencies.

      • Lola

        Every time I watch this show I want to send another box of stuff to charity. My in-laws are hoarders and my husband has many of their tendencies. But watching these shows opens our eyes to our own issues. So if it isn’t helping the subjects of the show, it is giving us something to think about.

      • Hope

        Same here Lola…. The show is helping in a way I am sure it did not intend.

        I force myself to watch because “there
        but for the grace of god” go I.

  • ernie

    I think it’s kind of exploitative, but if it helps anyone, that’s a good reason to keep it around.

  • tvgirl48

    It’s more on the exploitative side as it’s fascinating television to see these peoples homes and how they got that way. It’s certainly less rewarding and riveting than, say, Intervention since ppl can detox and stay clean with help. Hoarding is much much harder to treat. Like others said, if it gets ppl to at least try to get help or make a move towards help, then I’m glad the show’s around.

  • jo

    All of the people shown on the update episode declined aftercare help so it should be no surprise they reverted right back to the same behavior. I was glad to see the young man had kept up with his treatment and had control of his impulses. It takes a lifetime to create the problem, it will never be solved in 2 days.

    • Kate

      Please research OCD and you will get a much more clear picture of just how irresponsible the therapist/ PhD’s were…there decline was TOTALLY avoidable…I know from experience because I suffered ( past tense) from OCD and am now COMPLETELY free from it’s grip via treatment with SSRI medications…please research this ..I believe the public should know the truth about this debilitating ( and COMPLETELY treatable) disorder.

      • melon

        My understanding is that hoarding is like OCD, but that it doesn’t respond to treatment in the same way as OCD.

      • catie

        Compulsive hoarding IS a subset of OCD. I have been diagnosed with compulsive hoarding. I have been in therapy for more than three years due to it and the suffering that me and my condition caused my family. I, too, am on meds, but I also know that my hoarding tendencies will never go away, just like an alcoholic who has been clean and sober for years is still in recovery, still an alcoholic. I take each day on its own and have developed techniques to deal with my issues when I feel the need to acquire and/or hoard.

        I have never watched the show, as it is just too painful for me. Why watch it on TV when I have lived through it?

      • JPX

        Kate, although OCD can respond to antidepressant medication, the research has shown that this is not true for hoarding, suggesting that hoarding is a different beast altogether. There are new proposed criteria for hoarding for possible inclusion in the next addition of the DSM and they are as follows.

        Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of whether they are perceived by others to be valuable or not.

        This difficulty is due to strong urges to save items, distress and/or indecision associated with discarding.

        The symptoms result in the accumulation of a large number of possessions that fill up and clutter the active living areas of the home or workplace to the extent that the intended use of at least some of these areas is no longer possible (e.g., unable to cook in kitchen or to sit in living room). If all living areas are uncluttered it is only because of the intervention of third parties (e.g., parents in the case of children, family members, cleaners, local authorities, etc.).

        The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).

        The hoarding symptoms are not due to a general medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease).

        The hoarding symptoms are not restricted to the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., hoarding as a compulsion due to obsessions in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, lack of motivation in Major Depressive Disorder, delusions in Schizophrenia or another Psychotic Disorder, cognitive deficits in Dementia, restricted interests in Autistic Disorder, food storing in Prader-Willi Syndrome).

        Specify if:

        With Excessive Acquisition: If symptoms are accompanied by excessive collecting or buying or stealing of items that are not needed or for which there is no available space.

        Specify whether hoarding beliefs and behaviors are currently characterized by:

        Good or fair insight: Recognizes that hoarding-related beliefs and behaviors (pertaining to difficulty discarding items, clutter, or excessive acquisition) are problematic.

        Poor insight: Mostly convinced that hoarding-related beliefs and behaviors (pertaining to difficulty discarding items, clutter, or excessive acquisition) are not problematic despite evidence to the contrary.

        Delusional: Completely convinced that hoarding-related beliefs and behaviors (pertaining to difficulty discarding items, clutter, or excessive acquisition) are not problematic despite evidence to the contrary.

  • Kate

    The therapists, psychologists…on this show are absolutely the most irresponsible I have ever seen in the field. I was appalled that that they have not recommended medical treatment for these people SUFFERING (UNNECESSARILY) with the very common disorder OCD. I think they should loose their licenses. I see TRUE malpractice here. When ”Paul” from Alabama…who is clearly morbidly depressed ..threatened suicide (and they left him with out constant supervision ),,it was SHOCKING to the profession. WHENEVER a client is SUFFERING from a debilitating ( and blatant) depression they can NOT heal through mere ”talk/ behavioral health treatment.” SHAME SHAME SHAME…perhaps it is time to better research the true roots of OCD…DUGH

  • A

    The way they go abou things on this show is sick!! The TLC version is slightly better because the psychologists actually seem to have a larger role in the process. The A and E version just seems to glorify the bags of stuff being hauled out.

    Also, an Alcoholics show?? Its called intervention!!

    • leytpr4

      I wonder about the people who write these articles for EW…. it’s like they live in little bubbles and make statements without taking any time to research anything. If this writer had, they’d know about Intervention.

      • CMAC

        The writer was making a joke – the guy said he is no longer an alcoholic – he only drinks a few beers a day. So the show could be named Alcoholics? Emphasis on the question mark.

      • Me

        Tucker is an anal cancer and he is not funny.

  • seattle_girl

    I have heard experts in the field admit that there is an incredibly low success rate as far as controlling hoarding tendencies. One of the toughest mental health issues to manage let alone recover from. So I’m not put off by the low success rate. Better to at least attempt to alter the current course. I’ll keep watching because the show offers a compelling look at the cause and impact of an affliction that’s pretty tough, even baffling, for most of us to understand.

  • almost scared

    I know this is a bit off topic but its nice to see people talking about something other than twilight or getting into ridiculous arguments with each other. i almost was ready to quit reading ew because of all the trolls and brain dead comments. EW take notice. more posts like this. like this.

    • betsybug

      I’m guessing there’s less of those posts because the median age of a viewer of hhis show skews older. At least, that’s my hope to explain Twlight posts…..

  • shellibelli

    I agree waht can 2 days of pressure from strangers help with these people who have had a problem for years!

    these people dont need a cheerleader, they need medication! this is a sickness~

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  • niteowlalways

    Hoarding is a form of OCD that is nearly impossible to treat. Even with medications such as SSRI inhibitors and therapy the odds of a “cure” a extremely rare.

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