Saturday, February 13, 2010

When compulsion breaks a family apart

By Lilia Borlongan-Alvarez

MANILA, Philippines—There’s been a disturbing phenomenon sweeping across the United States—and we’re not talking about the economic downturn. It’s called “hoarding,” which is said to afflict some three million Americans.

Mixed feelings

While watching the series, “Hoarders,” on the Biography channel, we had mixed feelings about how people’s compulsion could lead them to accumulate “useless” things through the years. (They’re among the fortunate ones who have not been affected by the recession.)

The first series talks about the obsession to keep things that people can live without. We’re not referring to boxes neatly stacked on top of one another; we’re talking about junk and rotten food.

It tells of a young couple with two children living in a mansion. Their kids have been forcibly taken away by the authorities and turned over to their grandparents, because their home has become hazardous and uninhabitable. The kids’ mother was given an ultimatum that if she didn’t shape up, she and her husband wouldn’t get their children back.

Finally, the mother acquiesced and turned their house into a clean and organized home. But, her family’s cautionary story had no happy ending: The kids weren’t returned home, because the authorities weren’t convinced that their mother was determined to really get hoarding out of her system. Worse, she and her husband divorced thereafter, while their kids remained in the custody of their grandparents..." Link