Saturday, February 14, 2009


POSSESSED from Martin Hampton on Vimeo.

A shorter documentary this week, looking at the households of four people suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

'POSSESSED' enters the complicated worlds of four hoarders; people whose lives are dominated by their relationship to possessions. The film questions whether hoarding is a symptom of mental illness or a revolt against the material recklessness of consumerism. When does collecting become hoarding and why do possessions exert such an influence on our lives?

Made during a Visual Anthropology Masters at Goldsmiths College London last year. Winner of the Silver Egg at Emir Kusturica's Kustendorf Film Festival, 2008 and Winner at BLIFF 2008, (Banja Luka International Film Festival ).

This is a very common and growing problem. If you know anyone who is clearly a hoarder, please try to show them this film. I would be very interested to know how they respond. A feature of the disorder is that people often deny there is a problem. When they finally do realise they are in trouble they tend to think they have a unique problem which leads to a feeling of shame, isolation and despair. It's a very complex problem without a quick fix, but with care and understanding it is possible to get on top of it. I've seen it done.

I find it hard to throw things away, and definitely hoard cd's, clothes and dodgy books, but I also hoard my income for overseas travel so that counters these tendency's a lot. Saying that, the examples shown here are extreme and, apart from the first case, 'Control', destructive and debilitating.

It is strange to see how self aware these individuals are about their hoarding, that they can discuss and acknowledge it and yet there is a mental block that stops them from following thought with action. The reason I admire this film is that it really makes me think about my own mental blocks, all the things I can acknowledge about my own home and yet fail to do anything about. It's nobodies business but my own whether I have half a bookshelf full of VHS tapes but no functioning video tape player. Will I ever buy another player to watch these again? Never. And yet something in my brain will not let me part with the 'David Carradine kung-fu workout' video. The mind is an incredible, enigmatic, thing.

One of the many splendid things about traveling is separating yourself from your possessions for an extended period, living just with the contents of your backpack. Every time I are reminded that what you can live without is virtually limitless, both from the temporary Zen lifestyle, and the lives I witness in countries far less well off than my own. I know all this, and yet when I return the VHS's remain. Will you excuse me please, while I take 'Breakdance USA', the showcase of the newest dance sensation sweeping the world (1983), over the road to the op shop bin...