True-Life Health Dramas: Can’t-Look-Away-TV

September 2, 2009 | By | Comments (0)

116136642_1a928c013a_m I'll be the first to admit that shocking-true-health-story television sometimes sucks me in. In the last few months alone, I've succumbed to the, um, charms of a few episodes of "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" (as someone who IS very, very pregnant, I cannot imagine this scenario!), of "Mystery Diagnosis" and "Dr. G, Medical Examiner." (I watch at LOT of the Discovery Health Channel!) I've also become quite fond of tracking the heartwarming, up-and-down weight-loss journey of "Ruby," on the Style Channel.

But my latest can't-look-away-show is one that's less strictly health-related but is strongly mental health-related. It's is a new series on A&E and it's called Hoarders. The title explains it all—a peek inside the lives/homes of people with serious, over-the-top, destructive, and often unsanitary hoarding problems. Many of these people are being threatened with eviction, or even having their children taken away from them. In one episode that I saw, a psychological expert notes that people who exhibit this behavior are often also dealing with other issues like anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and eating disorders.

What's so fascinating is how even when I'm watching something that's clearly a very extreme behavior, I still find myself identifying in small ways. When the woman in Milwaukee balks at throwing away a huge box of food of dubious freshness (frankly, it was pretty obviously rotting), I still think about how I also hate throwing away unused food and have twinges of regret as I toss it into the trash—although if the expiration date is passed, I DO usually err on the side of caution!

When another hoarder takes cameras with her to a store and shows how on-sale/specially-priced items are just so tempting (regardless of their utility or necessity in her life, much less her ability to actually afford them), I can certainly recall many times where I've bought something because it was on sale, or when I thought I MIGHT need it eventually, so I should pick it up while it was at a good price. (I'm thinking of YOU, 12-pack of paper towels that joined a host of other, unopened multi-packs on top of the 'fridge.)

Meanwhile, check out the top six reasons most people cite for being unable to get rid of clutter. Of all the rationalizations, I happen to mostly identify with the whole "I might need it someday" defense!

Do you have certain true-health television shows you just can't resist? Do you ever identify with the people as you watch, or do you simply tune in to be sort of amazed by their extreme cases?

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