The Harm in Hoarding


SPRINGFIELD — A former host of the show “Hoarders” spoke about why the disorder makes it tough for firefighters to save lives. 

With spring upon us, you might want to do some spring cleaning, or may have already done so as you trying to get rid of junk and clutter.

But clearing out space in your house can be a big mental battle for some. 

Matt Paxton, former host of “Hoarders” spoke to a room of people who are either concerned about a loved one, themselves, and some were first responders who wanted to understand more about the disorder. 

“Hoarding is a mental disorder. The only way to truly solve it is with therapy, and compassioned, focused clean out, and that’s what we told people today,” Paxton explains. 

Paxton says that most people who end up in situations like these, have suffered some loss that keeps them clinging onto whatever they can.

“They do it because of trauma, grief, loss. Something bad has happened to them, and they’re looking for their happiness and self worth in stuff. Some people look for it in excercise, and faith, in alcohol and drugs. For hoarders, they look for their happiness in stuff,” says Paxton. 

Lieutenant Blaine Bias with the Logan Rogersville Fire Protection says the clutter of hoarded houses often times limits what they are able to do within the structure, and often requires them to bring in more help during those situations. 

“With the accumilation of stuff, it makes it difficult for us to get in there and go through the house. It’s a life-safety issue for us, and going in and rescuing the homeowner,” Bias says. “If you have a big fire load, and it’s a very hot fire, it’s going to take a lot of water to put that out. So, the more stuff, the hotter the fire will be.” 

Paxton says that these things only add to the already difficult job that first responders have.

“For any firefighter — for them to walk into the house, it’s already dangerous if the house is on fire. Now you add enormous amount — sometimes tons of volume. They have to climb around it and scoot around it so they don’t get hurt,” says Paxton.  

Paxton adds that 15 million Americans struggle with hoarding, most commonly among nurses, teachers, and social workers.

He says the best way to treat a hoarding disorder is therapy, compassion from family and friends, and a slow cleanup. He says only doing a it a few minutes a day is most effective for the psyche, rather than trying to do it all at once. 

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