Since debuting on August 17, 2009, the hit A&E series Hoarders has aired 120 episodes. The popular show is watched by millions of viewers who often believe the reality TV series is exposing a real problem and helping those in need.
Let’s dive into the show and see if it accurately represents a disorder that affects an estimated 5% of the U.S. population. While Hoarders gets some things right, experts have long argued over whether or not the show does more harm than good. To determine whether the show is helping or hurting those in need we first have to understand what hoarding actually is, how the show tackles the problem, and what experts have to say.
Hoarding Wasn’t Its Own Disorder When The Show Started
We have to give A&E’s producers a little bit of credit for bringing the hoarding disorder to the forefront of a larger conversation. When the show started airing it was long believed that hoarding was simply a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It wasn’t until 2013 that Hoarding became its own disorder.
The main distinction between OCD and hoarding is that people with OCD typically feel bad about their actions while hoarders derive joy from hoarding various items. Experts now predict that anywhere from two to five percent of the US population has a problem with hoarding.