Packrat

80mins2004DocumentaryTVPG
director
Kris Britt Montag
Filmmaker Kris Montag's father chained a row of shopping carts to the front-yard fence of the family's Brooklyn home. He piled stacks of old newspapers in the kitchen until it became impossible to use the sink; when his wife threw them away, he became furious. The father of cinematographer and co-producer Jessica Jennings lives on a farm, so his ""collecting"" is less obvious, until he takes you into his enormous barn, filled to the ceiling with items he thinks might be useful someday.

Hoarding behavior like this can seem amusing, unless you have to live with it every day. This compelling personal documentary takes us inside two families whose lives have been shaped by parents who are ""packrats,"" and have trouble balancing their love for their spouses and children with their obsessive accumulation of ""things.""

It also looks at what we know about the causes and progression of this odd but by no means uncommon phenomenon. Many clinicians and researchers now believe that hoarding behavior is related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), though it may also sometimes be a symptom of Alzheimer's or other dementias. Montag interviews a social worker who talks about the difficulty of dealing with elderly hoarders in a hospital environment, and with Randy Frost, a leading clinician and researcher, who addresses the hope of treatment for the disorder. She also introduces the owner of Disaster Masters, a company specializing in crisis management for hoarders whose collections have created serious health and safety problems in their homes.

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