Possessed

Film-maker Martin Hampton has created a revealing documentary on four people with different degrees of compulsive hoarding, where individuals incessantly collect household objects, even to the point of not being able to throw out rubbish.

Compulsive hoarding is often linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder, where affected people experience intrusive thoughts or urges to complete certain actions (most commonly ‘washing’ or ‘checking’) even though they know how seriously these intrusions are affecting their lives.

Hampton’s documentary is a remarkably well made account of people with similar urges, in this case to collect and retain, and just lets the individuals and the images speak for themselves (it is also freely available online as wide screen HD, so looks wonderful).

Apparently the documentary was created as part of a Master’s course in visual anthropology, a field I’d not come across before, but which seems to be concerned with documenting the diversity of human experience through film.

Possessed does this admirably and seems to have garnered numerous awards since it’s release.

UPDATE: Grabbed from the comments. An update and a request from the director!

I am the director of this film and am now researching the next stage of the project. I am trying to compile a collection of peoples experiences of OCD and other anxiety based disorders. I have found from experience that although symptoms might be similar, the actual particularities of the obsessions and compulsions are often very varied. For example, one might wash ones hands 30 times a day, but have a very unique self discovered reason for doing so. I would be very grateful to hear of your or any friend / acquaintances experiences / difficulties. Many thanks and I hope you find the film interesting. Please email me at martin@martinhampton.com

Link to Martin Hampton’s documentary Possessed (via MeFi).

2 Comments

  1. Posted March 10, 2008 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi
    I am the director of this film and am now researching the next stage of the project. I am trying to compile a collection of peoples experiences of OCD and other anxiety based disorders. I have found from experience that although symptoms might be similar, the actual particularities of the obsessions and compulsions are often very varied. For example, one might wash ones hands 30 times a day, but have a very unique self discovered reason for doing so. I would be very grateful to hear of your or any friend/acquaintances experiences/difficulties. Many thanks and I hope you find the film interesting. Please email me at martin@martinhampton.com
    Martin Hampton

  2. Larry Smith
    Posted March 11, 2008 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Fascinating, but far from the worst I’ve seen in real life! I happened to live with two people who were more extreme. Interesting enough, their hoarding stemmed from different angles, but the result was almost the same.
    One guy would basically buy stuff without any regard to where it would fit. Or without much thought for an actual need for items. Books, electronics, you name it. It didn’t help that he had high income. He did not have a mental stopper in giving stuff up. He did cull his stuff when he moved, basically because he had to go through it anyway.
    A gal I lived with did not buy much, but practically did not throw stuff away. Everything was of emotional value to her! Or she’d find some remotely plausible reason for keeping it. Old hardware, books, even telephone books. She was also compulsive about organizing stuff, like alphabetizing her library. Because she could not throw much away, she ended up with way more stuff than the dude above. She also got depressed. Taking an SSRI actually helped her get rid of some of the stuff, especially the more useless things like telephone books, even though she never admitted any correlation.
    Finally, when I had an episode of depression I ended up with a pile of various things in the middle of my room. Books, CDs, clothing were all mixed together. It lasted for some weeks. Needless to say it all got cleared in an hour after I got well.


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