Tuesday, November 30, 2010

it's all about the wordplay

1:11 am, watching Hoarders quietly so as not to wake Keenan, propped up on 19 pillows so to sleep at a 85 degree angle, I have my first non-baby related thought in weeks!

I attended a conference on hoarding a few years ago in Wichita Kansas. It was an especially enlightening psychological conference. I did not learn much in grad school regarding hoarding but after 2 full days of lectures and workshops I felt much more informed. Since then there is a series on A&E called Hoarders. I was watching two episodes last night (thank-you heartburn and insomnia) and noticed that in all four of the case studies a similar sense of anxiety from the trucks that came to help clear the hoard.

All four of the cases the individual who hoards had a visceral reaction to the word "JUNK" hugely written on the fleet of trucks sent to "help" them. Of course, you may see junk as a slang term or even a term of endearment for a voluptuous backside. But it is clear that people do not want their things (even if it's old food and every newspaper since 1961) called "JUNK", or their whole neighborhood seeing that they have 17 truckloads of "JUNK".

I understand that this is advertising with this company, however the clinical psychologists who attend these interventions must have the knowledge that a truck with no words at all on it may be a better suited idea, after all the individual who hoards is usually in crisis during the part of the intervention where the things are put onto the truck.

My point is: words matter. Connotations matter. These people are in crisis, please help them by being sensitive to this.

*Neither here or there for this post but also I doubt many of these interventions work just like an addiction, or any other behavior pattern hoarding takes a long time to change and it is unlikely this is accomplished in only a few days and then kept up.

title courtesy of Jason Mraz: Wordplay


mindakims said...

Little bit scaring me: my 10 yo gets overwrought every time we refer to the mess in his room as "junk". If I say, "clean up this junk!" he completely melts down. I do not know where he gets that, because his genes are loaded up with tons of nonhoarder, clear the runway swedes who love clean lines and simplicity. Help me help him!

Ashley said...

You've got a good point. One person's junk is another person's treasure!