Think about it... the show stresses ad nauseum that the folks featured on the show are mentally ill, so I'm wondering who is actually giving A&E/Hoarders proper legal consent to publicly broadcast their faces, names, and locations on national television?
Certainly someone who is very obviously suffering from a mental illness / mental impairment is not considered capable of giving their consent of "sound mind and body"...?! The "diaper lady" who strapped herself onto a potty at night easily comes to mind as an example of someone featured on the show who very clearly was not capable of giving proper legal consent.
Then there are those folks who are so desperate financially or otherwise that it undoubtedly clouds their judgement to the point that they are not thinking clearly about the consequences of being featured on a show such as Hoarders... they can't have possibly considered that their children will be ridiculed at school, or that they themselves will be confronted with dirty looks and nasty comments every time they go out in public?
Seems to me that for all the help this show claims to provide for the people featured on Hoarders, it is actually exploiting their mental illness and is very likely doing many of these families more harm than good!
In my honest opinion, the folks at A&E need to start blurring the faces of the families appearing on the show and to stop providing their names and locations... BEFORE they have a suicide on their hands and consciences!
Unless there is some kind of interdiction and the mentally ill person is a assigned a guardian, said person has the same rights as anyone else to make decisions. The people on the show contact A & E to become candidates for the help they provide: A & E is not actively soliciting by going door to door.
I expect that many of these people do indeed wrestle with having their secret put out into the light to be ridiculed, that they worry about their children etc. Perhaps when compared to such things as the children's lives continuing to degrade from the poor living conditions, the children's possible removal from the home or even the home being siezed because of the conditions therein, they make the decision to accept the help and contact the show.
While the clean-up does cause a good amount of stress to the hoarder(s), once the homes are cleaned up to a degree you can see that many of them are visibly lightened in attitude, as are their children. Certainly there is no quick fix, but as you point out in your post, many of them are in pretty bad financial straits and this might be one of the few options open to them.
When you read the threads where the therapists and organizers answer questions, you see that what is seen in that hour-long presentation is most certainly not everything that occurs during the time the clean up is taking place. Since it's a show being presented for television viewing, of course they are going to show dramatic moments. For instance, there was a lot of commentary about the latest episode about Nadene and her attitude, yet Dr. Z explains in her thread that the moment that pushed everyone's buttons was not the sum of the kind of person Nadene is; Nadene's daughter Heather also says the same thing when she answers some of the comments about her mother.
Your mention of the woman (I can't recall her name at the moment) who strapped herself to a chair at night to sleep was well-founded: it's pretty clear that she was in a very dire position--but the end product of her particular intervention was that she was removed from the house which I believe was condemned and she now lives in a assisted living community near to where her daughter lives. I think she was maybe the most extreme case and in her case an interdiction was necessary and it happened.
I'm not an expert by any means and the information that I do have comes from my partner who is a program director for staffing the homes of adults with mental illnesses. Some of the people her company serves have guardians who work with the company to see that the person's needs are met; others still have their independence (that is, their rights to make decisions regarding medical treatment, where they live in the parameters of the voucher program they participate in, etc.). Mental illness is a disability but a disability does not automatically mean that the person is incapable of making decisions such as the ones the people who choose to appear on the show make.
Edited by Merricat, 3 years ago
It may or may not be exploitive, but the question that wewannawii asked was can they give proper legal consent. They can and they have. I don't know what the contracts are like, never having seen them, but it's likely that points such as being shown on television, names and the rest are covered in the the contract. I was not arguing about whether ornot the show is exploitive, only providing some information about that question.
As for signing contracts under duress--your point is that the people asking A&E for help are doing so under one or more of a number of stressors (or duress), and that's true enough, but I don't think that financial pressure, threats from CPS regarding the removal of children from the homes or whatever are considered duress from A&E, but duress that the hoarders have brought upon themselves as a result of their behavior(s). Mental illness will not excuse any debts you pile up or the fact that you have put your children in harm's way. A&E couldn't be the source of the duress since they are not the ones that approach the people that appear on the show.
Here is the People's Legal Dictionary's definition of Economic Duress:
Although hard bargaining occurs legitimately in commercial contracts, duress may be in the form of breaching an existing contract between the two parties unless the innocent party agrees to enter into another contract. Austin v. Loral. The contract is voidable if the innocent party can prove that it had no other practical choice (as opposed to legal choice) but to agree to the contract.The Elements of Economic Duress (breakdown):
1. Wrongful or improper threat: No precise definition of what is wrongful or improper. Examples include: morally wrong, criminal, or tortuous conduct; one that is a threat to breach a contract "in bad faith" or threaten to withhold an admitted debt "in bad faith."
2. Lack of reasonable alternative (but to accept the other party's terms). If there is an available legal remedy, an available market substitute (in the form of funds, goods, or services), or any other sources of funds this element is not met.
3. The threat actually induces the making of the contract. This is a subjective standard, and takes into account the victim's age, their background (especially their education), relationship of the parties, and the ability to receive advice.
4. The other party caused the financial distress. The majority opinion is that the other party must have caused the distress, while the minority opinion allows them to merely take advantage of the distress.
Edited by Merricat, 3 years ago
The bottom line is these people ask for the help and agree to the condition that they will be shown on television. They are in no way obligated to a)Contact the show in the first place, b) After being briefed and reading the contract, continue to go forward with the process.
Humiliation is likely the least of the problems that they have considering the health problems, hazards from poor living conditions, threats of removal of children, siezure of the home. Would it have been better in the long run that Judi (the one with the diapers) should have been left to her own devices and perhaps die alone in that house?
I imagine that there are those who have appeared on the show that would agree with your assessment of exploitation after the fact, but there are also those who would disagree since the outcome for them was what they wanted it to be or perhaps more than they imagined at the outset.
The solution that is offered by agreeing to appear on the show may not be the ideal one,but it's an alternative that the subjects choose. Mental illnesses do not equal mental ncompetence. Nothing in life is free, you always pay some kind of price; what looks exploitive to you doesn't necessarily translate the same way to the people that decided to try appearing on the show as a way out of a difficult situation.
Edited by Merricat, 3 years ago
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