Timeless, obsolete, excruciating, loving, required viewing- Packrat, another movie about hoarding

Timeless, obsolete, excruciating, loving, required viewing – Packrat is a 2003 movie co-produced by Kris Britt Montag and Jessica Jennings, the two of them friends and adult children of fathers with (probable) hoarding disorder.

Timeless because despite the film’s age, when research into hoarding disorder was in its earliest stages, this documentary is an immaculately accurate representation of hoarding disorder from immeasurably personal lenses of Montag, Jennings and their families, and service specialists Dr. Randy O. Frost, Liz Burden, and Ron Alford.

Obsolete because, fast-forward 20 years, the research Dr. Frost and others have doggedly accomplished has exploded our understanding of this horrific mental illness: for example, it is no longer considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but is its own diagnosable entity, listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR) of the American Psychiatric Association. BUT, also for example, the evidence that there is a genetic, heritable element to the illness is clearer. During shooting the production, Dr. Frost is just building a Clutter-Image Rating Scale – that scale is now in world-wide use.

Excruciating because the pain and shame experienced by these families is crushing viewing. Both Montag and Jennings courageously shared a vibrating fear that they inherited a hoarding predisposition, rather than allowing themselves the grace of thinking they’ve been taught these behaviors and the behaviors can be unlearned. Encouraging, both did take steps to unlearn their mindsets. Both told haunting stories of the damage to familial relationships caused by the illness.

Loving because both families saw beyond the disorder, and with bedrock compassion tried to understand their loved ones’ destructive behavior and honor other valuable interactions.

Required viewing because of all of the above.



obituary, J. Evans “Jack” Jennings, Jr. – I would have enjoyed conversations with this extraordinary man.

About Lauren Williams

Lauren Williams, Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Virtual Professional Organizer®

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