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Topic : 07/01 A Secret Inside: Extreme Hoarding

Number of Replies: 343
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Created on : Friday, April 25, 2008, 02:58:59 pm
Author : DrPhilBoard1
(Original Air Date: 04/28/08) Imagine being forced to dwell in a space that is so cluttered with junk, food and trash, you can barely walk. Nancy and her boyfriend, Bob, live this nightmare every day. In their two homes, flies and plastic containers fill the kitchen, moldy food is stuffed in four refrigerators, and boxes and plastic bags litter the house. The two youngest children sleep on the same couch in the living room, because one's bedroom is cluttered, and the other child doesn't even have a bedroom! Nancy, a former nurse, admits to being an extreme hoarder, but how did she and Bob, a former corporate attorney, allow their lives to degenerate to this chaotic clutter? Their home is trashed, and they're in debt $100,000. Could other issues be contributing to the chaos in the house as well? Hear from the three children, 16, 11 and 9, who are trapped in this mess. Are Nancy and Bob finally ready to rescue their family from the rubble before the kids' lives are ruined forever? Share your thoughts, join the discussion.

Find out what happened on the show.

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April 26, 2008, 8:04 pm CDT


 Why are hoarders so often nurses?  There must be an explanation, but I don't know what it is. 

For people who grew up in these awful circumstances, there are some good websites:

I hope all of you, children of hoarders, know it is NOT your fault, you did NOT cause it and you can NOT fix it. 

April 26, 2008, 8:14 pm CDT

DIRTY little secret

I knew just about all my neighbors on my street except one. She was not the kind of person who would get out of her car when she came home from work, turn to us to smile and wave. She was a nurse at a local, well known hospital, in San Bernardino county CA.

She had recently become divorced, and I noticed that she was no longer taking the meticulous care of her lawn like she used to. We all just chided it on. She worked long hours, and on occasion we would catch her coming home, always with some kind of fast food, and a 12 pack of beer, or a gallon of cheap wine.


A few years went by. We were accustomed to seeing a gardener weed whack her mess a couple of times a year. We figured correctly that she was in violation of city code, and was being forced to deal with her weeds.

Around this time, we started to get roof rats in our garage, and my neighbor across the street, who lived next door to this woman was having to deal with cockroaches. It was then that I began to really watch what was going on across the street. This woman never set her trash out, yet, she was always taking stuff INTO her house. I took my kids trick or treating there, and the woman had her foot behind her door, keeping it somewhat closed, but I saw a huge mess behind her. I called the city and told them about our rat problem (and I was freaked out by them.) and the cockroaches that we never had before, and told them about the woman across the street. I was told that the city had looked into the matter, and the woman was fine, a nice lady, so let sleeping dogs lie.

I was a bit perturbed. I did not want rats or bugs in my space. I had 4 small kids and I babysat as well. I did not want any of them to get sick.


Several months later, the lady was led out of her house by the police! Right afterward, a crew came to clean her house. They set a huge dumpster on her driveway, and filled it to the brim. My neighbor had enough insight to take his camera over to the house, and take pictures. My neighbor gave the pictures to me. Her entire home was covered a good four foot high or more, with pizza cartons, McDonald's bags, old newspaper. There was a kitchen in this house at one time, but it disappeared under a stinking mass of trash. She had a waterbed with no water in it, just piled high with old wine bottles. Same for her bathroom. There were two bedrooms. Oddly, one of the bedrooms had nothing in it. No furniture, no bed, nothing, EXCEPT there were cracks in the wall and the plants from outside were growing inside.


I don't know why the police took her away, someone said she was physicotic. She defiantly had a drinking problem, if nothing else. It's sad to think that someone could suffer such a mental breakdown, and in this case, it must have been brought on by her divorce. To think that maybe she did something at work, a slip up with a patient? It's speculation for sure.


My Uncle was not quite as bad, but he never cleaned, even though his personal habits, hygiene, were impeccable. He would never let any of the family in "his" house after my Great Grandmother died, and we were not surprised that he was selling her house (she died intestate, but that is another story) and it was to be sold as a tear down. The house was HORRID. The wonderful people who bought the home (it was built in 1905) decided that this grand old lady of a home was not to be demolished, but brought back to her turn of the century slender. I was blessed that this family let me in the house to show me the work they put into it. It was the highlight of my trip back to my native Chicago a few years ago. BTW, the house had pigeons in the attic, and a family of raccoons in the chimney! Several windows were also broken. It amazes me that my Uncle did not freeze to death in the bitter cold Chicago winters.


Same with the lady that used to live across the street (I moved from that area years ago). Her house was cleaned, fixed up and sold to a nice family with two little girls.


In a way, I feel badly that I did not reach out to this woman, Maybe all she needed was a shoulder to cry on. I had a very full plate in front of me. A bad abusive marriage, four kids under 7, babysat and cleaned houses so I could feed my kids, and a number of illnesses, so reaching out, for me, was not an option.


 Same with my Uncle. In his case, he sent all my letters back to me unopened, and he never answered his telephone, so after a while, the family just quit trying to make contact.

April 26, 2008, 8:36 pm CDT

In responce to the quote

""  Our minister gave a sermon once that amounted to:  the less stuff you need to maintain, the more time you have for people and God.  Do not be slaves to the idols called "stuff".""


How true this is. We are a Nation that has too much. The vast majority are not hoarders, but we have a lot of STUFF.

I'm sitting here looking to the left of my computer. I live in just under 1000 sq ft., and I share my space with a husband, a dog, a snake, and much of the time, various grandchildren. Space is very limited, but, this mess I have in this one corner drives me nuts. I have a small media Shelf loaded with CD's and DVD's, all in use every now and again. I have a plastic rolling drawer that has photo albums, and my medical supplies (I am insulin dependent diabetic). The floor has a medical file box on it, two now empty fan files, a Verizon cell phone bag, a box of used sharps and my current read (Kite Runner). It stresses me out.


I would love to have more organization then I have now. I would love to have space for my passion, my families genealogy. Interestingly, my closet is fairly organized. I have been relentless with my clothing. If it's served it's life span, out it goes. I send my used, but clean clothing to Mexico when either we go to visit, or my daughter in law visits her family. It gives me some sense of accomplishment to know that someone else can use my clothing.


I don't think I have a problem with hoarding. I think hoarding has some kind of underlying mental problem. If anything, I am too clean. Not as bad as my Grandmother. I think she had a problem with being too clean, that bordered on OCD. Her routine, if broken, stressed her out, big time. I'm looking forward to watching the show Monday.

April 26, 2008, 9:05 pm CDT

They get them back

Quote From: tc19671

I cannot believe that in a time of child neglect at an all  time high, that people who decide to live like this are not loosing their children. Not only are they endangering their children and potionally exposing them to many illnesses, that authorities are not stepping in to remove these children. It sickens me to know that the department of child services are not involved in the care of these children. School officals have to be made aware, the town needs to be aware, and CPS needs to be made aware. And Dr. Phil it looks like it is up to you to make sure these children are removed  from this filth and madness that their parents have put them in, maybe if parents cared more about the children they chose to have instead of their own chaos the children would be better off, I am a foster parent and it makes me so angry to know that parents hide this situation and so nothing is done to help the children, apparently not even the extended family cares enough about these children to get them out, Shame on those family members.

I turned my daughter in for the conditions she was forcing her son to live in.  She was given 30 days to clean it up.  She proved she was working at it and they dropped the case.  Once the 'threat' was over, she went back to her slovenly ways.


The thing that is hard to believe is how these folks can walk out of those homes looking perfect and squeaky clean!!  My daughter has spent 19 years in the Air Force...HOW can she be such a pig at home?  How can she deprive her son of a place to play or have friends over? 


While she was in Iraq, my grandson and I gutted his room and redid it.  The 2 cats had used his room for a litter pan so I gave them away.  It hurt him but as we pulled the rug off the floor...he understood.  We discovered mold and mildew also.  I became physically sick several times a day!  After hauling his mothers things out of his room and putting the 20 large bottles of laundry soap and 32 bottles of softener in the laundry room, went through the shopping bags and put things away...the room became manageable.  We spent most of the summer on his room because we could only work on 1/4th of it at a time and I had a broken leg. 


We started on her room and the laundry room.  The cats had used her room also.  Her room is half  the basement and was piled to within inches of the ceiling.  6 months later and it looks even worse than when we cleaned it up!  AND she's in debt again!  I had control of her money when she was in Iraq.  I got all her debts paid off and had over 5 thousand in savings for her!


I just threatened her again so she's attempting to clean up.  My grandson is now 11 and it's becoming harder and harder to explain to his friends why they can't come play at his house.  He can't even let them in the front door!


My daughter refuses 'professional help' because of her job in the Air Force.  She has NO organizational skills.  I get her organized and she does well for awhile, but eventually she buys so much that there is just NO place to go with it all.  I don't know what to do anymore!  You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink!  She's got a huge heart and does a lot of charity work but I tell her charity begins at home and she just rolls her eyes.  It's a no win situation.


I hope to learn how to get through to her by watching this show.  They have to WANT help to GET help!


CPS has some very strange rules when it comes to removing a child from his home.  Most of the time they just threaten.  How would the school know when the child comes to school in designer clothes and squeaky clean? 



April 26, 2008, 11:38 pm CDT

Had a neighbor that was a hoarder

Almost like those brothers in NYC, but not that bad.


Still, the family had to bring in a number of sanitation trucks from the city to clean the place out when he died.

April 27, 2008, 12:31 am CDT

04/28 A Secret Inside: Extreme Hoarding

My MIL is an extreme hoarder. One of the worst cases probably in America. There is simply nothing that we, as a family, can do about it. She is able to go to work, pay her bills, and therefore, her immediate family sees no need to step in and do anything about the situation. It's been over 4 years since anyone other then her has been in her house. My husband and I were the last one's that were in there and at that point in time I was ready to call the health department to have something done about the situation, and I was told not to and to mind my own business. She buys things that she simply does not need just for the sake of buying them. (She has a 47 inch flat screen tv, still in box, yet she does't have cable.) She averages about 4-5 computers a year, just b/c she feels like it. All these expensive things are bought through a home shopping channel on their easy pay plan, and they are never taken out of the box. So the boxes pile up. There's a swimming pool in the back yard that hasn't been cleaned in 11+ years. She just doesn't feel like doing it. She knows that she has a problem, but has said that she simply doesn't care about doing anything about it, so the rest of the family must sit around and watch from the sidelines as she leads this very lonely, sad life. I can no simply put into text how bad the extent of her hoarding issues are, and you add that to the 6 dogs that are not trained that she has as well as the fact that for years, she would just leave the back door open and feed any/all cats that were in the are... The house is simply a loss and the smell alone is enough to knock you over. It's a horrifying disease and for those of us who love someone with the problem, when the person refuses to recognize that there is a problem there is nothing but a feeling of lost and hopelessness that we can feel. Somedays all I can do is thank my lucky stars that my husband and I live across the country and only have to vist her every so many years, but coming back just makes the guilt of not getting her the help that she so needs and deserves, hurts even more. is a great way to get your life in order if you have a jumping off point. People like my MIL, there is no jumping off point, b/c I'm afraid for her... That the jumping off point means the end of the house all together and that would cause more bad then good.
April 27, 2008, 3:20 am CDT


I can't believe how many people have jumped into a "crucify the neighbors" type attitude. There is some kind of underlying problem that would cause this behavior. Yes, they do need help. Help with whatever emotional problems that lead to this behavior. Yes, this is a disgusting situation, but before you cast the first stone, think about what may be happening inside their lives, then concentrate on cleaning the house and finding help for them.
April 27, 2008, 7:07 am CDT

04/28 A Secret Inside: Extreme Hoarding

Quote From: suebonnetsue

 Who pays for this annual cleanup? 

Does the court order do any good?  Other than getting the fire department to clean it up?  They may as well give the court order to the fire department. 

Is her car packed with junk too?  The hoarder in my neighborhood had one car hauled away by the police because the tags were dead for at least a year.  A big ol' Cadillac, totally packed with trash. 


     The first year it was a county service.  Now, she gets a bill.  She refused to pay it, so the city turned off her water.   She changed her mind and pays the bill. 


     Do you remember Jeff Foxworthy's joke "You might be a Redneck if . . .?"  Well, the first year  the fire department cleaned up her yard, they found a whole pickup that she had reported stolen.  No, I am not kidding.  It was that bad!  She was surprised to finally find that pickup. 

    In our county, you can keep one car without tags on your property.  That pickup is now underneath a tree on the front yard.  The car actually runs.  It is a neighborhood giggle.  It got so loaded with trash that she couldn't get in and drive anymore.  So, she gathered up bags of garbage from the inside.  I don't mean one or two, I mean bags and bags

     The odd thing was, she wouldn't put it on the curb for the garbage men to pick up.  No, she put the bags on the driveway with her other junk. 


April 27, 2008, 8:03 am CDT

How do you do that?

Quote From: ohmygosh1

I can't believe how many people have jumped into a "crucify the neighbors" type attitude. There is some kind of underlying problem that would cause this behavior. Yes, they do need help. Help with whatever emotional problems that lead to this behavior. Yes, this is a disgusting situation, but before you cast the first stone, think about what may be happening inside their lives, then concentrate on cleaning the house and finding help for them.

How do you find out what is causing this if they refuse therapy?  How do you find help for them when they don't want it?  Cleaning the house does no good, they just junk it up again...and quicker than before!  My anger comes from watching a child forced to live in it!


April 27, 2008, 9:01 am CDT


Has anybody these day's heard of the word HELP!! Where is the husband and wife of this women or did he get lost in the mess as well secondly where is child services-this is a serious case of abuse to these children there lives must be full of frustration and confusion this women has a lot of serious issues which obviously did not happen over night!

I hope for the children's sake this women,mother and wife can straighten things around with professional help!

I know-it takes all types to make this old world go around,thank god there are people like yourself who have the energy to deal with these people and there issues!

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