Compulsive Obsessive Disorder has become a byword, or a branch of psychotherapy, that is having a lot of eggs thrown into its basket since being coined as a condition with mileage and brought to prominence by the likes of TV psychotherapist Stelios Kiosses.
His Channel Four show, The Hoarder Next Door, highlights just one those eggs – the secret hoarders of Great Britain, as the name suggests. The figure is so vast, popular theory is that from next year it will be a branch of neuroses in its own rite. Recent estimates put the number of people suffering with the condition in the UK at around 3,000,000, which, coincidentally, has been the approximate viewing figure for the show this Spring. You’re surprised? So are Channel Four, but in the nicest possible way. Perhaps it is just the hoarders watching, burning the shows onto DVD and storing them next to all of their other possessions ‘in case they might come in useful for something later’.
But what the devil has all this got to do with cookery courses and fine dining?
Stelios, rapidly becoming one of the most recognised therapists on TV, is of the firm opinion that the disorder is self-feeding. The urge to collect nick-nacks, jumble, newspapers or not throw out old clothes, shoes and bags that will never be worn again (are you listening, my Da Wife?) takes priority and diet becomes neglected. The lack of nutrition, a common theme with sufferers, not only serves to deprive the body of essential vitamins, minerals, carbs and protein but the mind too, funnelling the hoarders obsession. By extracting them from this self-indulgent spiral (which is more than likely subconscious) and catapulting the patients into a festival of fine dining for their taste buds, they are lifted from the hum-drum that may well have been the catalyst that allowed the disorder to take a grip so powerfully in the first instance.
Stelios’ friendship with restaurateur Andreas Antona, owner of Michelin-rated Simpsons in Edgbaston, Birmingham, where the TV therapist is based, kick-started Stelios theory that good food = good mood. And, just like the cookery schools that run the cookery courses on our home page, Stelios takes a whole heap of, what to the untrained eye looks like, haphazard ingredients, does his magic with them and returns an end result that is much more palatable. And it works.
Tantalising anyone’s taste buds is a gift and will instantly lift their mood. And that’s the way Stelios views therapy – as an artform, as well as a treatment that has its base roots firmly implanted in scientific research. And Antona agrees and welcomes the cookery classes that find their way to his kitchens.
He goes on to explain that cookery, likewise an art, takes 100% focus to perfect. For the time they’re learning to cook interesting and different recipes that are anything but the processed meals for one (or for a family, if the rest of the household are unlucky enough to have a hoarder in charge of the menu) they usually subject themselves to, they start to see the pattern and interact with other students.
The cookery classes are just like the warm up and, when the sufferers are primed, Stelios and his team takes over to really get to the root cause of the issue (in total confidentiality) and work with the patient to find a way out of the clutter-packed wilderness, whilst nibbling away on the amazing food they’ve just prepared. Et voila. The treatment can begin.