Last night, while flipping aimlessly through the television channels, Steve and I stumbled upon an episode of the show “Hoarders” on A&E. Just five minutes, and we were hooked. We watched in horrified fascination as people filled their homes from floor to ceiling with clothing, canned goods, dishes, full boxes, empty boxes, used containers, old newspapers and magazines, and any other sort of useless junk you can imagine. In the extreme cases, there was barely a thin pathway to maneuver through the mess.

A few of the hoaders even “collected” animals. Cats, rats, chickens, rabbits, dogs, ducks–the hoarders were often quickly overcome when the animals began to breed and multiply. Many animal hoarders live in conditions that aren’t even suitable for the animals, let alone humans, and yet many of them vehemently deny that there is a problem. One man in an episode last night had adopted three pet rats to keep him company after his wife died suddenly. By the time he appeared on the show, asking for help to get his life back, his “pets” numbered in the thousands and had systematically destroyed his home from the inside out.

Watching the show, I began to wonder how this sort of extreme hoarding begins in the first place. Is it a sickness? Something clearcut and diagnosable? Or is it just a personality quirk that spirals out of control? Is it something a person is born with? Or something that develops slowly with age? Or could it simply be a byproduct of this materialistic world we’re living in?

I like to think that I would never end up on one of these shows. I like to think that I am not so attached to any of the “things” I own that I would refuse to part with them even if they were broken or empty or useless. Yet, I must admit, there are times when I wonder if this compulsive hoarding behavior simply varies by a matter of degrees.

Today’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to that little hoarder in all of us. What are you collecting?

My name is Lori, and I am a book addict.
A small sampling from Steven’s stash of Modern Drummer’s.

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