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ibstubro's avatar

"Hoarding" is recognized by The American Psychiatric Association as a disease. Is mental illness legitimate fodder for Reality TV?

Asked by ibstubro (9061 points ) 1 month ago

Hoarding disorder is “In”, “Asperger’s” is out.

Who knew APA mental health was trendy?

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19 Answers

bolwerk's avatar

To call it a disease is probably stretching it. It’s recognized as a disorder, in that it is a behavior/trait that negatively impacts the life of the person who hoards.

I guess it could rise to the level of mental illness (e.g., cat hoarders), but I don’t see why it necessarily has to.

Buttonstc's avatar

Is it legitimate fodder for Reality TV?

Well, it never stopped them before :) anything is up for exploitation as long as its profitable.

JLeslie's avatar

Hoarding is like an addiction in my opinion. I don’t understand why people like to watch shows about addicts. I have seen a few episodes of Hoarders and of other addiction shows and I just don’t understand watching it regularly. It’s the same thing every time basically. For the most part I don’t like watching dysfunction on TV. It isn’t entertaining to me. Whether we should or should not put this stuff on TV is a good question. Just putting people on Dr. Phil might be questionable. I guess most of the people get helped through the experience and the audience hopefully does too. But, it also might be taking advantage of people who are vulnerable.

livelaughlove21's avatar

All I know is that watching Hoarders makes me feel really good about my house/life.

filmfann's avatar

When the American Psychiatric Association recognizes “Bitch” as a disease, they will have to stop showing “Bridezillas”, and then there will be no more programming on WE tv.

Emmy1234's avatar

hahaha @livelaughlove21 We think alike! When I don’t want to do that cleaning I just turn me on some Hoarders. My house instantly looks imaculate!

ibstubro's avatar

Hoarding is officially a branch of OCD, @bolwerk.

Usually, @Buttonstc, your abnormality has to be voluntary to be exploited. Mental illness takes it out of the realm of ‘voluntary’.

I agree, @JLeslie. I’ve only seen part of one episode of hoarders, and it was a man living in a trailer that was facing losing his kids if he couldn’t do something different. It was just sad. Pathetic.

I’ve had very limited experience with Hoarders, @livelaughlove21. I asked the question because a friend told me he saw a televised session of HA (Hoarders Anonymous), and I thought that was over-the-top.

Why stop, @filmfann. SMD (Small Mindedness Disorder), and we can eliminate ¾ of the television programming.

KNOWITALL's avatar

What you call exploitive, I call educating our Nation. Just like Invention shows about addicts, Hoards is showing another side of manifestation.

One of the problems with mental illness is that diagnosing them is difficult. My mom wasn’t diagnosed as bi-polar until age 55. Educating doctors, therapists and the general public is something Obama and many others are now seeing as very important to prevent some of the horror stories from occurring.

@ibstubro On a personal note, dealing with my mother and knowing a few other people with mental illnesses, I can honestly say that many ARE sad and pathetic, it’s heartbreaking.
Not only that but a lot are suicidal, have zero self-esteem and are excruciatingly lonely. It’s not just Hoarders, it’s military with PTSD. It’s not just the bag lady talking to herself on the corner, it’s the woman in your office or the client you just had lunch with, it’s pervasive and we need to educate ourselves and help these people, not just shrug them off for another generation.

keobooks's avatar

Aren’t all of those people volunteering to be on the show? Is there anyone on that show who has refused to be on it? Hoarding is a symptom of a disorder, but not a psychotic disorder that impairs their ability to speak for themselves.

They have a show exploiting people with dwarfism on one of the channels. That’s a disorder, but the people are willingly letting themselves be exploited too.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

IMHO, mental illness is the reason for Reality TV

I mean, don’t you have to be just a little bit fucked up to waste time watching that shit?

Yetanotheruser's avatar

And I guess an uncontrollable eating disorder is a more appropriate symptom to exploit educate with?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Do you have an eating disorder? Are you overweight and struggle every day not to be? If not then you have no idea how those shows actually help people by showing them it’s possible to change by changing your lifestyle and eating habits.

I’m not sure why people want to not talk about anything uncomfortable. Is it exploiting the poor fat people when most of our nation is overweight?

ibstubro's avatar

I don’t have a TV channel, so I have not watched reality TV, but for snippets in motel rooms.

Admittedly, I don’t run with a real high-brow crowd, owning and running a rural auction house in the Midwest. The people I hear mention reality TV talk about it with derision, as in they watch it because it makes them feel good about how comparatively ‘normal’ they are. As near as I can tell, they’re the modern-day version of the carnival freak show.

I cringe when I hear someone I like mention a reality TV show, because I’m (almost invariably) going to think less of them.

LornaLove's avatar

I think it is, as far as reality TV goes, which for the most parts sucks balls. One can get educated about an illness and identify and hopefully phone the number at the end of the program, that is great right? You also get great tips on how to tidy up (in this case) and sort things out which I love.

Currently in the UK we have OCD Cleaners, going out to clean peoples homes who hoard or are just darn lazy. There is a program on that. I am divided. One can say they are putting their illness to good use. One could also say we are sublimating a negative behaviour. Is it negative though? Who’s to judge.

Buttonstc's avatar

You wrote :

“Usually, @Buttonstc, your abnormality has to be voluntary to be exploited. Mental illness takes it out of the realm of ‘voluntary””

According to whom? If you’re referring to common sense or compassion then I agree with your point.

But those moral parameters pale in comparison to the almighty dollar. Profitably is determined by ratings so that’s the primary criteria for whether any program stays on the air. Whether its exploiting people or not is largely beside the point for the powers that be who make the programming decisions.

If it doesn’t bring eyeballs to the screen, its history. If enough people are watching regularly, then there will be renewed seasons until the populace tires of it and ratings tank.

I honestly don’t think morality (or how voluntary the behavior is or isn’t) figures into the equation for TV execs.

The golden rule is not the operative principle in these types of decisions.

(Unless one’s version of the Golden Rule is distorted to read “he who has the gold makes the rules”.

So they’ll continue to exploit mental illness and anything else which brings in the ratings, sadly.

Not every single person involved in televising these things is equally shallow. I think that the producers of “Intervention” are making a good faith attempt to educate and help people.

And I read an interview with Dr. Drew where he discussed his qualms about becoming involved with Celebrity Rehab and he only agreed to do it if certain parameters were adhered to.

During the first season filming, one of the Directors was suggesting various “storylines” which they could develop (with some adroit manipulation of course) and he just put his foot down and nipped that in the bud.

He said that if the realities of how much addiction ruins lives weren’t compelling enough to get people to tune in, then it didn’t deserve to be on the air.

But such attitudes are relatively rare in Hollywood and the fake world of “Reality” TV.

And let’s make no mistake about it, if either of the programs I mentioned failed to garner appropriate ratings, they’d be off the air regardless of how much potential they had to genuinely help people.

And his (Dr. Drew) current talk show program is basically a bunch of sleaze which constantly features all the horrendous stuff pulled from the latest headlines (a la Nancy Grace and similar). Their coverage of some of these is truly execrable. (I’m thinking particularly of the Jody Arias trial.) Nobody really “needed” to hear all the gory details of the murder as well as her endless descriptions of their freaky sex life. Ugh.

I’m pretty sure this is what the producers and execs are insisting upon cuz when he first started, he really did try to pick topics which would educate people. But that doesn’t necessarily produce ratings I guess. Gory murder details do. I’ve quit bothering with it.

cazzie's avatar

You know how they cast ANY of those reality TV shows? One of the first questions they ask is ‘Are you on any medication’ and if they are for bipolar, depression or any other mental disorder, they jump to the front of the line to be cast. This was exposed by a retired producer. She burned out because of the mill that reality tv has produced of people who are so desperate to get on TV. It is how they get drama. People wouldn’t watch otherwise.

ibstubro's avatar

Back in the day, I was a huge fan of Phil Donahue. One day he had on a couple of boys that claimed they were lesbian lovers and were there to whine that the government would not foot the bill for their sex change operations. I turned off the TV and that was the end of my “reality TV” experience.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@ibstubro Phil Donahue? What a blast from the past!

ibstubro's avatar

Yeah, @Yetanotheruser, since my TV viewing ended in about 1997, I’ve not had all those hours and hours of the dregs of humanity piled into my memory. Phil is still a vivid TV memory for me. :)

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