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Updated 10:00 AM September 8, 2008




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Don't miss: Documentary film, panel explore hoarding disorder

Stacks of newspapers, piles of waste, weathered clothing and toys: this is the backdrop of the first scene in "My Mother's Garden" — an award-winning film that documents a 61-year-old woman's daily life as a hoarder.

The documentary is filmed through the perspective of the woman's daughter, director Cynthia Lester, who is trying to save her mother from eviction and repair the family havoc created by her mother's condition.

The Depression Center will present the film from 7-9 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Michigan Theatre, 603 E. Liberty, in collaboration with the Washtenaw County Hoarding Task Force and the Children of Hoarders organization.

A discussion panel scheduled to follow the film will include Lester; Dr. Jim Abelson, director of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic and professor of psychiatry at the Medical School; Harriet Bakalar, elderly eviction prevention coordinator at the U-M Health System Housing Bureau for Seniors; Dr. Joe Himle, assistant professor of psychiatry at the School of Social Work; Dr. Stephanie Preston, a behavioral neuroscientist at the Department of Psychology; and Elizabeth Nelson, a representative from the Children of Hoarders organization.

The intent of the screening is to raise public awareness about the issue while providing people who are affected by hoarding a forum to learn more about this condition that can devastate the lives of sufferers and their families.

"Hoarding is a very serious issue that is often kept hidden," Abelson says. "We hope that this event will encourage people who are affected by hoarding to begin a dialogue about what they face on a daily basis. This is also an opportunity for the public to be educated about an issue that rarely receives clinical attention."

Created more than 30 years ago, the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Clinic is one of the oldest clinics of its kind in the country. It is a regional referral center for evaluating and treating anxiety disorders, providing both psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic services.

To learn more about the program go to To learn more about the film go to

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