Thursday, May 12, 2011

Children of Hoarders in The New York Times

A very exciting day here for Children of Hoarders! The New York Times just published an article about the experiences of people who were raised in a home with a parent who hoards. Kudos to Steven Kurutz for a fine bit of reporting, one that avoids easy sensationalism and that fairly presents our experiences.

I almost dropped my coffee cup on my keyboard when I saw that the article contained a link to my humble, sporadically updated blog, even though I wasn't interviewed for the article. Either Mr. Kurutz does his research very thoroughly, or some of the other children of hoarders (COH, for short) must have mentioned it to him. In any case, thank you, Mr. Kurutz, for mentioning my blog.

For those of you who are new to this site, here are some links to a few posts that have generated a lot of feedback from readers:

  • An Open Door - My first post. It outlines the basics of the "children of hoarders" experience from my perspective. I wrote it less than a year after my mother had a medical emergency at her house, and her hoarding complicated her rescue.
  • The Hallway - The post that has received the most attention, likely due to the linked video that described the experience of finding my mom collapsed from a stroke and near death in her hoard. It explains a potential consequence of the "go slow" method of trying to help a hoarder to improve their living conditions when they are very resistant to change. That's not to say that dramatic interventions involving municipal authorities are "good" solutions; it's just that sometimes there aren't any good solutions.
  • A Trip to the ER - A post that gives an example of a curious speech pattern that many children of hoarders believe is related to hoarding behavior: just as hoarding seems to be driven by an inability to decide which objects are important/valuable and which objects are trash or unneeded clutter, many hoarders seem unable to identify which parts of a story are important, and which parts are incidental. As a result, what for most people would be a thirty second comment about going to the store or making dinner becomes a lengthy tale involving the neighbors, the cat, the guy down the street, and the green car that drove by the day before when told by some hoarders.
  • There are also a few posts where other children of hoarders and I try to come up with advice to a fifteen year old child of a hoarder. What would we have wanted (needed!) to hear when we were that age? See the comments to the individual blog posts for some great ideas. (What Would You Say to a Fifteen Year Old Child of a Hoarder? and Advice to a Fifteen Year Old Child of a Hoarder)

...which raises an important point, I think. The comments on my blog posts are at least as interesting as the posts themselves, so I encourage you to read them and learn what other children of hoarders are thinking.

A lot has happened in the last couple of years, particularly involving providing elder care / medical care for my mom, as well as the logistics of addressing a house that has fallen into stark disrepair after many years of a hoarder refusing to allow anyone inside to fix things when they break. Look for more posts about these topics soon. Pictures and video, too!

Finally, as a child of a hoarder, I can't overstate how useful the online support groups run by Children of Hoarders, Inc. have been to me and many others. Please visit or their public Facebook page for more info. If you are a child of a hoarder yourself, check out their private Yahoo Support Group. COH Inc is also on twitter. Hey, I am, too!

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that you will visit again.

PS. Be sure to check out some great blogs by other children of hoarders: Tetanus Burger, Inheriting the Hoard, Navigating Chaos, Nice Children Stolen From Car, RareNest, Jessie Sholl's Blog, and many others listed at the Children of Hoarders site. Also, if you use Facebook, check out the Children of Hoarders Facebook Page!


Anonymous said...

I read the NY Times article this morning, which is how I found your blog. Admittedly, this is the first time I've laid eyes on your 'site. What an exciting time this must be for you! Reading the article and learning of others afflicted by hoarding inspires me to speak up; I myself am the daughter of a hoarder and have NEVER spoken about it until now. I look forward to staying tuned more often.

curiouslittleoysters said...

Hey, thanks for the shout out!

Good work on the blog, being a resource for others. :)

Manuelita 2012 said...

Quick question:
Is a person that buys electronics (TVs, computers, printers, etc) and saves the boxes in which they came a hoarder? further on pays for a storage unit just to store these items? Anyone????

Hoarder's Son said...

@HaPpy mamma 2011 -
Saving the boxes for electronics is not necessarily a hoarder thing, since the boxes might be handy if the person needs to return the item, get it repaired, or if they are going to move.

On the other hand, paying for a storage unit just to store the boxes? Yep, that definitely sounds like hoarder territory to me!

Unknown said...

For additional articles and information on hoarding go to :

joanna said...

Just found your blog and I'm thrilled. My mom is a hoarder and it's gotten much worse in the years following her mother's death. I've been working with a psychologist but I'm thrilled to have found a community of people who understand. Looking forward to hearing more from you!