Do you have a slight problem with being messy? This week's A&E’s Obsessed, in its exploration of the obsessive compulsive disorder extreme hoarding, will have you cleaning up your apartment or desk and feeling for poor Russ, who can't stop buying things and also can't bear to throw anything away. "I get attached to things," he says, "because I don't have people to care about."
As a result, Russ's apartment is packed to the gills with furniture, mattresses, antiques, and tchotchkes that literally keep him from getting past his front door. In fact, he admits he's slept in front of it before because he couldn't get past his junk. He sometimes even sleeps outside, where he says there's at least fresh air and no feeling of claustrophobia. To find about Russ and extreme hoarding, read more
Why would someone accumulate so much stuff that his home becomes uninhabitable and unfit for guests? According to Russ's cognitive behavioral therapist, a hoarder cannot distinguish the level of an object's importance with respect to other objects. Everything is important, everything imbued with sentimental value, everything may be something the hoarder will need in the future.
In Russ's case, losing his mother was the trigger for his hoarding. "When I touch or hold a keepsake," he says, "it's like being held nearby her." But we're not just talking about photos of his mother or things she owned. Russ struggles with his therapist to throw away a dime store Santa figurine because it's wearing a purple scarf — his mother's favorite color.
Lucky for Russ, he has a great therapist and the true desire to let go of these objects and their relation to his losses so that he can clear the way for a new life.