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The HoardersMaterial Deviance in Modern American Culture$
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Scott Herring

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226171685

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226171852.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2022

Old Rubbish

Old Rubbish

(p.112) 4 Old Rubbish
The Hoarders

Scott Herring

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines how accounts of pathological hoarding emerged alongside accounts of pathological old age. It explores how cultural depictions of aging recluses fostered stereotypes of the aberrant hoarder. To so do it traces a history of senile squalor syndrome that associates the elderly with the accumulation of rubbish. Using the 1975 documentary film Grey Gardens and it subjects Edith Bouvier Beale and Edie Beale as its main case study, the chapter details how modern fears over late life material culture support depictions of elder hoarding. Surveying the cultural history of geriatrics and gerontology in the United States, the chapter describes how these disciplines advanced apprehension over the belongings of older men and women such as Edith Bouvier Beale. These discourses of the pathological aged and their departures from socially acceptable forms of keepsakes and memorabilia continue to influence popular and scientific accounts of hoarding.

Keywords:   hoarding, mental illness, Grey Gardens, Edith Bouvier Beale, Edie Beale, aging, recluses, squalor, gerontology, geriatrics

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