With more people at home, Accusers has become even more relevant. The Emmy-nominated and Critics’ Choice Award-winning series shows experts stepping in to help people on the brink who struggle with this compulsive disorder. Professional organizer Dorothy Breininger has rummaged through her share of residential stock over the show’s 12 seasons, with No. 13 on the way. Here, this five-foot organizational fury arrives from Belize to talk about Accusers‘ longevity and the two-hour-packed episodes to come.

How do you think COVID has impacted hoarding?

Dorothee Breininger: Everyone was ready to go about their business because they simply had nothing else to do. For some reason, the stigma around hoarding has diminished. The show was still going and people were using it as a tool to help them de-clutter. I think it has become even more popular over the past year. We had more hoarders coming forward and people willing to allow us to film their stories.

What stories stood out to you this season?

Paul’s story airs November 1. This guy is an interior designer from New York. It’s really interesting to see his flair. He is used to painting and all this experience of beauty and aesthetics. His paintings were so amazing. We did something special for him to show him we care and to try to help him with his paintings as he thought they were very valuable. The other [standout] Pin up [is the November 29 one about] Peggy. This particular accumulator was a super clean accumulator, but it had over 7,000 bins, boxes and bags already packed. We had to unpack so we could decide what was stored and what was not.


Why has the show lasted so long and how has it changed?

I did the pilot and I’ve been on it for over a decade. The biggest difference I see is that people now understand the difference between hoarding and collecting and they just have too much clutter. They see it for themselves. There seems to be a real understanding and concern for mental well-being. In the beginning, lawyers, curators, judges in our legal system asked me to come and talk to them and teach them about hoarding. People were fined and put in jail for their hoarding. If they didn’t clean it up within 48 hours, they were going to jail. It’s no longer the case now. Our legal system is starting to understand that we can’t lock people up because they’re hoarding. We have to take care of mental well-being.

As the holiday season approaches and the online shopping boom approaches, what advice would you give people so they don’t fall into bad habits?

No matter what we say, people are going to shop. People will buy and return things. Let’s at least try to manage what’s going on there. I encouraged people to have an Amazon space or an online shipping and receiving space. Be organized if you are going to shop and return online.

For me, I like giving experiences rather than stuff. I love making a scroll and writing a list like “Here’s what I like about Scott”. Then I roll it up and put a knot on it. I get up and read how awesome Scott is. It affects everyone. It’s the gift. It sounds a little strange, but to be publicly recognized is really great.

What did you learn about yourself by helping all these people?

I like this question the best because that’s where I’ve seen the biggest change. I would say it’s really in me. I used to say, “Let’s clean it up and make it happen for them, no matter what.” Now it’s “No matter what, let’s get to know these people. Understand what motivates them. Understand what motivates them. I connected more deeply. I am more open. I have always been cuddly with these people. I am now more attracted to who they are. It made the difference. It doesn’t make a difference with their business but who they are with, so it has a bigger impact on their family.

Hoarders, Season 13 premiere, Monday, October 18, 8/7c, A&E


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