Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Thinkstock
Shows about hoarders are pretty common nowadays, and have many viewers.
The shows consist of a rather garish tour through their homes -- filled with dirt, falling down walls and roofs, open sewage, rats, mice, cockroaches and tons and tons of stuff.
Most of the stuff is worthless to others -- decades old newspapers and books -- all rotted from damp. Rotting beds and furniture, hundreds of bags filled with broken, unusable pieces and ironically, unopened boxes filled with brand new electronics, gift items, clothing, collectables, knick-knacks, jewelry and more.
Letting go of the rotting stuff (including food) is as hard as losing the valuable items that could be sold. Hoarders are generally battling with debt, due to compulsive shopping going hand in hand with the hoarding.
Hoarder are most often depressed and can hoard for many reasons. Hoarders seen on documentaries have expressed that their hoarding started once their children grew up and moved out or after a divorce.
Abused children can also turn to hoarding as a coping mechanism and to fill up the void of loneliness by surrounding themselves with stuff. Other suffering from other mental conditions do it to shut the world out and to physically prevent others from entering their homes.
Compulsive shoppers can end up as hoarders due to an inability to stop buying mass amounts of products and bringing them home.
There's a kind of train-wreck quality to watching these shows. They give us a salacious glimpse into the lives of others and make us feel slightly superior.
Our houses would never look like that. We feel clean and crisp and organized. It also causes some people to clean their own homes, even while watching. Seeing maggots oozing out of refrigerators can do that to a person.
But there is nothing inferior about a hoarder. They have a mental illness -- or several mental illnesses that all conspire to bring about the downfall of someone often once vital and living out loud in the world.
And what's most noteworthy (aside from denial) is their seeming inability to make a decision.