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CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Howie Mandel

Aired December 18, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Howie Mandel -- he doesn't want you to touch him, but he said it's nothing personal.


HOWIE MANDEL, COMEDIAN AND GAME SHOW HOST: I have no control. I feel like I'm out of control. I can't control my own mind.


KING: He suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Millions of others do, too.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I checked the alarm clock 50 times, I checked the stove, check, check, check the lock on. It's a form of insanity doing the same thing over and over.


KING: See how it affects their lives and their families. And Howie is here to show us what he's got against germs.


MANDEL: This would drive me nuts.


KING: Howie's lived with that fear for decades.


MANDEL: No, I won't touch the table.


KING: Look but don't touch is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's a great pleasure to welcome one of my favorite people to LARRY KING LIVE, a sometimes host of this show, as well -- comedian and host of the game show, "Deal Or No Deal," Howie Mandel.

He's the author of "Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me." Howie talks about his obsessive-compulsive disorder in this important book.

And I'd shake his hand, but as many of you know, he doesn't do that.

Do you want to shock the world and shake my -- you don't want to shock the world and shake my hand.

MANDEL: No, I don't want to shock myself.

KING: Why will you not shake my hand?

MANDEL: I don't want to be triggered into one of my obsessive- compulsive

-- whatever -- episodes.

KING: Is that a germaphobia?

MANDEL: I don't...

KING: Do you fear a germ from -- because now they're saying don't shake hands, with swine flu and all that.

MANDEL: Well, this whole H1N1 thing...

KING: Right.

MANDEL: ... Is like the world has come to see the world my way.

But, no, this is -- this is actually -- it's -- it's a very scary time for me and I'm very neurotic. I have an anxiety disorder. That's what this is. And things are -- I -- I spend a lot of time joking about it on -- on television and people make fun of it.

But the truth is -- and I revealed, I think, unwittingly, in this book how -- how serious -- you know, I'm terrorized by the fact that, you know, I may get something on my hand.

And I can't tell you how many times -- and I spent many years -- and people have seen me shake hands on television. I spent many years touching and shaking and -- and being public about it. But you have no idea what was going on in here.

And on those times when I was triggered, I would go in and I'd scald my hand and wash it and then come back out. And I can't even focus or concentrate. And I'd go back in again and again. And the whole -- my whole evening and my whole day would be centered around just trying to get whatever it is I imagined on my hand off.

KING: It leads to many things.

Why did you write the book?

MANDEL: You know, I wrote a book because I was approached to write a book. And I thought -- I had been in this business a long enough time where I have some great things to share, like funny little anecdotes and -- and great -- and then, as I was sitting there with my co-writer, who helped me get organized, I would just spew into a tape the different things that happened. And he was asking me about shaking hands and why don't you do that and what do you think. And I would tell the stories about when I was a kid.

And he goes, "We've got to put that in."

And I go, "But that's serious. That's -- I don't know if that's entertaining."

He goes, "No, that's -- that's interesting."

So I kind of was a -- you know, I had no idea that the book would end up being, you know...

KING: Serious.

MANDEL: Well, it's -- there's funny and it's entertaining, but it's real. And it's very scary for me.

I was just telling somebody in the green room that it's kind of embarrassing, because this is the first time in my career -- you know, I came on the -- on the stage originally just to be a comedian and make people laugh. And then I got jobs as an actor and a voice-over person and a host.

And this is the first time I've -- I've kind of been this honest. And I'm letting down the veil of...

KING: You've discussed it before, but never at this length or...

MANDEL: Not at this -- not at this level, you know, I'm -- it is -- it's a very tortuous thing. It's not -- it's a very serious thing in my life. And that's not what the whole book is about, but that's a big part of what makes up me.

KING: You told someone else that you hope it doesn't sell. Would you say...

MANDEL: I told somebody else...

KING: Are you kidding me?

MANDEL: ... That, you know, the truth of the matter is...

KING: You're that obsessive-compulsive it would bother you if people buy it?

MANDEL: It's embarrassing, because it's real, you know. You know, I don't want you -- these are things that I spent my whole life hiding -- the things that were going on in my mind, in my head. And they weren't -- you know and I go to therapy. I go to therapy a lot. And I'm -- I'm open about that and I try to get the help so that I -- so that I can cope and -- and make my way in life and with my family.

So to now have it for public consumption is a little daunting. So the fact that I may pass somebody in the street who said, you know, I read your book -- you know everything. You know about those -- those thoughts and those weird things I was doing as a child.

KING: Yes, it's embarrassing.

MANDEL: You know about me being...

KING: How early did it start?

MANDEL: I can't remember not having it.

KING: What's your definition of it?



KING: What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?

MANDEL: I don't have -- I know you're going to have a doctor on later and I don't know what the exact definition...

KING: What's your definition?

MANDEL: I have thoughts -- obtrusive thoughts and rituals that have to -- it's like a broken re -- a skipping record. And if these thoughts or these triggers happen to me through maybe shaking a hand or just a thought or just -- then I can't get past it and move on with my life.

It could be as small as not thinking I locked the door. You know, I talk about that in the book. There's one time when I -- you know, I checked the door. Everybody does that. And then I went into my car.

And then I was sure I didn't lock the door, so I went back to the door and I checked again. And then I sat out in the car and I go maybe I didn't check it enough. And I went back again. And then I went back again. And I went back -- and intellectually, I knew I had checked it.

And I went back 30 times until I had to actually -- I almost broke my fist.

I smashed the door so hard so that I would feel the pain when I backed -- when I went back into the car, so that I would stop myself from going and checking, so I can get on with my life.

So these thoughts -- I don't know what the definition of that is but...

KING: OK. What have you learned is the fear?

Since you know you went back to the door, what was the fear?

Why did you have to go back again?

MANDEL: I... KING: What were you afraid of?

MANDEL: Afraid of?

I wasn't -- it's not...

KING: Were you afraid the door was unlocked?

You knew it wasn't unlocked.

MANDEL: I thought -- I thought I didn't check it enough.


MANDEL: It doesn't make any -- you know, I think a lot of people...

KING: It makes no sense sometimes...

MANDEL: You know and I -- I think I have, you know, a capacity and a little bit of intellect. I understand that what I'm doing makes no sense, so it's even more bothersome. I understand that if I shook your hand today, that I probably will survive, but I can't.

KING: Do you think all of us have a little bit -- for example, I'm -- I'm compulsively not late. I will never be late.

MANDEL: Right.

KING: It drives me crazy.

MANDEL: Right.

KING: I will pack a day before I'm supposed to leave somewhere. I must pack...

MANDEL: Right.

KING: ... A day before I'm supposed to leave somewhere.

Is that a form of OCD?

MANDEL: I don't know. I'm not a doctor. But...

KING: But it might be.

MANDEL: But the truth is, I would -- the only reason that I went out and eventually got help and had it identified is because it stood in the way of my life and my relationships. I couldn't move on. So does anything you do in that way -- now here I am. I'm going to...

KING: Yes, right.

MANDEL: ...I'll see you next week at this time. But...

(LAUGHTER) MANDEL: But I think that if it -- if it -- if it stands in the way of your life, there's an -- I don't think there's anybody alive that doesn't need coping issues -- that doesn't need therapy. I think that that should be -- we take care of our dental health, we don't take care of our mental health.

KING: More with Howie about why he won't touch handrails or press an elevator button or wear surgical masks when he's flying.


KING: I don't mean to laugh, but Howie's a little weird.


KING: The book is "Don't Touch Me."

Right back.


KING: We're back with Howie Mandel, one of my favorite people.

The book is "Don't Touch Me" -- "Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me" -- all about OCD, obsessive-compulsive.

You won't shake hands, we know that. You won't...

MANDEL: Well, the book is my -- the book is my autobiography. And it's my...

KING: I've got it.

MANDEL: ...and it's my...

KING: But a major part of it is this.

MANDEL: I have ADHD, too. I've got a lot of letters. I've got a lot...

KING: What's AD -- what's that?

MANDEL: I -- I -- you don't know ADHD?

KING: What?

MANDEL: I'm -- I'm impulsive and I can't focus and I can't sit down and really read for any amount of time. That's why I have somebody help me with this, because it was really hard to focus. I mean it was a -- this is a miracle that I got this...

KING: Will you do a show?

MANDEL: If you come to any of my live shows, you'll see, it's very frenetic. I have the attention span of a gnat. You know, I've never been able to... KING: I was on one of your shows.

MANDEL: Yes, you were on...

KING: I was the banker.

MANDEL: You were on "Deal."

KING: Yes.

MANDEL: But -- but I don't rehearse. I don't read a script. I just show up. I can -- I can work like that. I can work in the moment. Anything that's done in the moment -- like this particular thing that we're doing right now, this is very easy for me. And it kind of keeps me in the now and it doesn't let my mind wader -- wander.

But I wasn't -- you know, I don't have an edu -- I don't have a -- what? I talked about it in the book. But I didn't finish -- I wasn't able to finish high school.

KING: All right. You won't touch handrails. You won't press an elevator button.


KING: Why?

MANDEL: Because...

KING: You don't know why.

MANDEL: Well...

KING: Germs on the button?


KING: You wear...

MANDEL: I can use my knuckle and I have little sticks and I have little tools...

KING: You wear surgical masks when you fly, because...

MANDEL: I think it's obvious, but I don't want to -- I don't want to inhale what everybody's exhaling. But I -- not every time. I fly a lot without it. Not every time.

But, you know, when you have issues, there are ebbs and flows. At this particular time, I flew yesterday, I didn't wear a mask and I was OK. But I have it with me. And I have utensils with me, you know, with -- if I go into a restaurant. But I don't always use them. If I need to use them...

KING: Your own utensils? MANDEL: Plastic...

KING: You don't trust the restaurants?

MANDEL: I don't want to -- you know, you don't know what they touched. And especially now.

KING: Yes.

MANDEL: Is it -- is it not amazing -- you know, I've talked about this before -- that the one time I opened up about what my issues are -- and the biggest issue that people are aware are -- is my germaphobia, which is just a small portion of the OCD.

But what is the luck of the draw that me -- me -- who finally writes a book, it comes out in the -- in the -- in the time, in the center of the first pandemic, H1N1?

And I'm going out on signings and I'm going out to the public. This is the one time when I need to be hermetically sealed.

KING: How do you handle signings?

MANDEL: I haven't -- I'm talking to you before I've actually had one. I'm hoping...

KING: Oh, boy.

MANDEL: Yes. If you see that I'm in your area and there's a signing, just come in and buy the book. There's no reason to come close to me.

KING: Do you have a hard time in a public bathroom?

MANDEL: Oh, are you kidding me?

KING: Because...

MANDEL: Very rarely. I'm -- I would -- you know, I -- I wish...

KING: What won't you do in one?

MANDEL: ... That you wouldn't see -- I -- you know, the fashions are such now, that our -- our slacks are tight enough that I could not wear a catheter. But if I could, I would.

I don't want to go into a public bathroom. When -- me in a public bathroom is like a scene from Cirque du Soleil. I have learned to do things -- to lift things with elbows and knees and touch. And it's -- it's just a...

KING: All right. Has your psychiatrist helped you?


KING: All right. Have you gotten better?


KING: How bad was it?

MANDEL: I -- you know, I -- I -- I think I've said this before. You know, that Howard Hughes movie? He was depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio. And at the end of the movie -- and I said this in the book -- he is naked in a room urinating into bottles. And that's where he is.

I am really not far from that at times in my life. The fact that I'm here talking to you and the fact that I'm out in public and I'm -- and I'm -- and I'm in a very strong, wonderful relationship with my wife and children, that is -- I'm functioning. I'm doing OK. I'm coping. And I'm -- and I'm out there. I'm not cured, but I can -- you know, I have a great career and I have a great, loving family and I'm out in public.

KING: I can't wait to read this. I'm not kidding...


KING: ...this book. Because I don't like to read a book before I talk to the guest, because this -- that makes me want to read the book. I can't wait.

MANDEL: It makes you want to read the book?

KING: Oh, yes. I can't wait to read this book.


Do you use it in your act?

MANDEL: The book?

KING: No, the -- the disorder?

MANDEL: You know, people say to me...

KING: Are there jokes you make about yourself on stage?

MANDEL: Well, I -- you know, I talked about being a germaphobe and I know -- you know, humor has always been the bridge for my survival -- you know, for -- at -- at my darkest moments and I talk about that. You know, my family -- with -- it's always -- there's always something funny and I can see the humor. And I think a sense of humor is the sensibility of being able to find humor where other people wouldn't find it.

But I spend a lot of time tortured. And, yes, it's funny. And I do talk about it in my act. And there's some really funny stories in there. But they're -- they're painful to me. But they're funny. I get it. KING: Foxhole humor?

MANDEL: Pardon me?

KING: They were -- they weren't funny when they happened, but they're funny in the telling.

MANDEL: Well even in the moments I -- I sometimes laugh, you know?

I -- I did laugh in the moment and I knew it was funny, even though it was torture. And when I'm most afraid and -- and -- and most uncomfortable, I have a tendency to laugh.

KING: Back in 60 seconds with Howie Mandel.


KING: Going out to eat does not strike terror in the hearts of most people. It's a bit of an ordeal for Howie Mandel. Let's dine with our germaphobe dinner partner. You watch.


MANDEL: I go here a lot. I like the food here. They're real clean here. But then again -- well, that's the door handle. The honest truth is that if I -- if I wasn't medicated or I didn't have therapy, I probably wouldn't even be here out in a restaurant eating. A lot of guys carry condoms. I have -- for protection, I have plastic utensils in case I'm freaked out.

But I'm actually not freaked out today. I'm actually pretty good. I'm -- I'm OK. But they're there for the choice. But I'll use these.

I'll have the Sante Fe chicken salad all chopped.

It's hard for me -- it's harder for me on the road because going into a place that I don't know. And it's just in my own mind. You know, it could be just as clean some place else, but if I don't know, then I'm -- I seem to be under more pressure.

I used the facilities, before I came to a restaurant, in my own home so that I would not have to use them here.

No, I won't touch the table.

This would drive me nuts.

Right now, his hand is on the table, OK?

So I'll just tell you my thought process about this. His hand is on the table.

So what happens is some guy comes over -- whatever slop or whatever is falling out of anybody's mouth ends up on the table, right?

There's crumbs on the table after we leave, things that you dripped when you're eating a sandwich. The guy comes over with that damp cloth that he's been carrying all day and he wipes -- he just smears it so it gets a little more shiny.

Now it's on his hand. Now they'll bring the rolls. So he'll pick up his hand and he'll take the rolls and they'll eat the roll.

OCD has been a great diet for me. If somebody doesn't sound healthy, if they say, you know, I'm just getting over a cold or I had a cold a couple of weeks ago and I'm fine, I mean if I see something, then I've got to -- I -- it's hard for me to get over, I'll leave.

And I feel bad about it after, but in the moment, the panic sets in and I'm just out of there.

And it makes no sense, but I'll use a straw but I won't drink directly out of a cup.

How did you know that was my issue?

Thank you.


MANDEL: Thank you so much.

There you go.

Welcome to my world.

And time out.


KING: Is Howie's fear of germs affected in his career an ability to get work?

Find out, next.


KING: The book is, "Here's The Deal, Don't Touch Me." The author, Howie Mandel. The publisher is Bantam. Written with Josh Young.

Did -- has it affected getting work?

MANDEL: It hasn't affected getting work. I -- I don't think it has. And that's -- and -- and I've been really lucky. And I talk about it in -- in the book. When I first revealed the fact that I have mental health issues, I was afraid that that was the end. Well, first -- my first thought -- you know, I did it publicly on -- on a radio show. But my first thought was that I've just embarrassed my family, because, you know, growing up -- when I grew up, there's a -- and I believe still today, there's a stigma attached to mental health issues.

So I thought I just embarrassed...

KING: It's sad, but true.

MANDEL: Pardon me?

KING: It's sad, but true.

MANDEL: Absolutely. It's not given the same credence that anything physical -- you know, I could say -- you know, I've got a -- a bad leg and everybody goes, oh, that's terrible. I can say that I can't function because I've got something -- an issue in my mind and people just think you're cuckoo.

So I thought my family was going to be embarrassed. I thought nobody would hire me. And as it turns out, it's been a little bit comforting to know that -- that I'm not the only one out there. A lot of people suffer from mental -- I don't think there's anybody alive that doesn't have a mental health issue. And a mental health issue -- it could be just pressure at work, dealing with a relationship, a divorce, being told that somebody around you that you love is sick, being -- how do we cope?

We don't have anybody to talk to. You'll go to a dentist and you'll go get your teeth cleaned and you'll get x-rays and find out everything is perfect, but you don't go sit down with somebody and say, you know, this is how I'm...


MANDEL: ... Thinking about something, is this normal?

Is this right?

KING: What's the worst thing about it from your standpoint, daily?

In other words, what's the -- the thing about this disease you hate the most?

MANDEL: That I -- I have no control. I feel like I'm out of control. I can't control my own mind. To lose -- there's nothing more terrifying than to lose control of your mind. You know, I'm thinking thoughts -- like you're asking me these questions that seem to make no sense.

What do you think is going to happen with the door?

What do you think is going to happen when I don't shake your hand?

What do you think is going to happen if you don't count this?

What do you think -- and I'm terrified and can't move on. And what's terrifying is that I'm terrified and it makes sense. It doesn't make any sense.

So I do and I -- you know, whether you read the book or not, anybody out there...

KING: Oh, I'm going to read it.

MANDEL: Anybody out there -- you know, if you think you have an issue, there -- there is great help out there and I get it. And I'm busy. But, you know, I am so busy -- between my career and all my touring. I -- you know, I see a therapist, you know, a couple of times a week. I see a psychiatrist. I do different kinds of therapy. I would take anything. I won't talk specifically about what I do, because I'm not in a position -- I don't want somebody out...


MANDEL: ... There to be watching and going you know, Howie takes this, he seems to be doing OK, so I'm going to take this. Every person is an individual.

KING: Obviously, it's fear-related.

There's some fear involved here, isn't there?

MANDEL: Well, I think it's an anxiety disorder. I know you're going to talk to a doctor later and he can probably -- I don't -- you know...

KING: Do you have a fear of going...

MANDEL: I'm not an expert.

KING: Do you have a fear of going on stage?

MANDEL: Fears?

I have normal fear. I like that fear. That fear is great fear. The performing fear is wonderful. That's my most -- that's my most comfortable thing -- that's my most comfortable place in life. That fear is like -- and I've equated to -- even in the book -- like going on a ride. People who like rides, that go to amusement parks, if you like roller coasters -- and I do -- you don't...

KING: You do?

MANDEL: ... You don't want to just sit and go with the breeze through your hair in a -- in a -- without any hills or valleys. You would never go on again. But if you're thrown up in the air and you feel that you've come this close to death and it's scary and you almost got sick, your -- your adrenaline is pumping and you go, I've got to go do that again and you're terrified. That kind of terror is exhilarating. It makes me feel alive. It keeps me in the moment. And I don't have to think about any of the other issues. Quiet time. Quiet time, when nothing is happening, is horror for me. So I sleep with the TV on 24-7. I need noise. I don't sleep that much. I don't sleep more than four hours a night. I've -- I always have to be around noise and people. I cannot be alone. I cannot be alone with myself.

KING: How does it affect your wife?

MANDEL: She is a saint. Thirty years together. She is -- she is a saint. And what I've learned through therapy is I have to learn to live in her and their world, rather than them learn to live in mine.

But they've been nothing but supportive and loving and understanding. And it's -- I would imagine - it's - it's tough to live with somebody like me. People always say, you know, because I think my persona has been one of being an entertainer. It's got to be so much fun to live with Howie Mandel.

What's it like?

And the truth is, it's - it's certainly a challenge. But she says, if you ask her, 30 years, how do you do it, and she'll tell the number -- in one word, the road -- the fact that I go away. That makes it easier for her.

KING: Howie, has there been any function problem you've had that you've conquered -- a thing you use to do you don't do anymore?

MANDEL: Well, I think the fact that I'm here is -- is conquering.

KING: You wouldn't have done this 10 years ago?

MANDEL: It would have been harder or I was depressed or I was - it was -- it, you know, before you saw me in this business, you know, I had a really - I had tough times, you know. I was - was not - not --not horrible times. I've always had a loving family. But, you know, as a little kid -- and I talk about this -- I didn't have - I didn't have a lot of friends. I was thought of as a pariah. I didn't really - I couldn't really function in school. And I would - I would act out. I was asked to leave school. I didn't finish school, I couldn't even focus.

My ADD was so tough that even -- you know, I'll talk about it in the book, but these are the kind of things that embarrass me -- that, you know, I knew I had to go to the bathroom and then something shiny over here would happen and then I'd wander over there and then I - I didn't make it to the bathroom.

You know, so then - so now I'm standing there and I have no friends and I had wet my pants and then I had to go find a puddle to jump into. I jumped into a puddle and I would tell people I fell in the puddle.

So I was this kid who couldn't concentrate and was always falling into puddles, who wouldn't tie his shoe because the laces touched the floor, so they thought I couldn't tie my shoes. I walked like Quasimodo because the shoes would be falling off. I had wet myself. I was like - you have no idea the mess that I was as a kid.

So to be here with you and to be dry and to be functioning and to have a family is -- I conquered.

KING: I'm going to stand back, though.

MANDEL: Oh, please do.

KING: What's it like growing up with a dad with OCD?

Howie's son joins us next.

We'll get some answers.


KING: We're back with Howie Mandel, the comedian and host of the game show, "Deal or No Deal," and, of course, author of "Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me."

Joining us, Alex Mandel, his son. He is 20 years old. He goes to college.

And what's it been like growing up with this as a father?


KING: I refer to this in the kindest terms.

A. MANDEL: Oh...

MANDEL: Wonderful.

A. MANDEL: Wonderful. It's been wonderful. And I...

KING: No what's --


A. MANDEL: No at times it was hard I guess but you know at the same time I think I have some of the craziness that he has but not for the same reasons.

KING: What do you mean?

A. MANDEL: Like --


MANDEL: I think he has a -- he's also been to therapy. I think he has a little bit of OCD.




KING: Inherited, do you think? MANDEL: I think -- I asked the doctor if he thought it was genetic you know, I can't tell you how much guilt I bear in knowing that you know, he spends some of his life a little uncomfortable because of maybe something he got because of me.

KING: What's been the biggest problem in living with it? Both having it, and having a father with it?

A. MANDEL: You know the biggest thing is just that it's I mean a lot of this stuff I would like to do he can't do normally I would say. But I...

MANDEL: Sitting and talking are you talking about OCD or ADD? We can't have -- a conversation doesn't go by from the time he was a little boy -- I would like nothing more than to sit down, and he's excited about something and he wants to tell me a story and what usually happens in the middle of the story?

A. MANDEL: Dad? Dad! Dad! Dad!

KING: He tunes you out --


MANDEL: I'm sorry I --

A. MANDEL: I also have bad ADD also --

KING: So you tune him out?

A. MANDEL: I tune him out, he tunes me out --


MANDEL: We get like little snip bits. That's why Tweet -- Tweeting has become really good because it's only got 140 character that's how we think.

KING: How do you function in school, Alex?

MANDEL: Barely.

A. MANDEL: Barely, yes barely. I actually I've had a lot of problems just my like my dad did, although I have a high school diploma at least. I'm in college now so I'm --

KING: You have a sister?

A. MANDEL: I have two sisters.

KING: Do they have it?

A. MANDEL: No, they do not.

KING: Is this male oriented? Do more males have this?

MANDEL: Another question for a doctor, we don't know but -- Jacky my older has -- definitely has --


A. MANDEL: She does it to make you proud and to make you happy. I don't know if it's as bad as --


MANDEL: To make me proud? I would not be proud, it's devastating to think that my child had something, has OCD. I think that she does display it. She has -- I don't know if it's genetic, I don't know if it's learned, you know and that's been my biggest issue. You know, I try in front of the kids not to act this way.

KING: Did he go to parent teacher's meetings?

A. MANDEL: Yes, he did.

KING: What was he like at that meeting?

A. MANDEL: He was fine, I mean if he -- he keeps his distance when he's talking to people. Because you know...


MANDEL: My wife kind of runs the, you know, the show when it comes to home and I -- and I have a hard time focusing and concentrating, but I've taken part in everything. I don't miss birthdays and I was very much part of their schooling and -- and whatever I can do. I mean this is my most important --

KING: Of course.

MANDEL: I would give up the business, I would give up everything you know, for my children and -- and my wife so --

KING: How do you feel about your dad? I mean you love him.


KING: How do you feel about this -- this thing he has? The two things he has?

A. MANDEL: The two things he has. Well, if you want to say two, there's a lot of things.

KING: More than two.

A. MANDEL: Definitely, more than two but you know it's -- it's something that as bad as it sounds almost normal to me because I grew up watching him be like this. Well, it's not -- not normal for me to think like -- like he's not -- that everyone does this. But I've kind of grown to cope with things that he goes through and understand things. When I was younger, it was always I'm putting my hand on the railing to go downstairs, and he's pulling my hands away and telling me, no, no, no, don't touch that, don't touch that; you can get diseases and stuff. And telling me things like that.

And now that I'm older and I -- I don't touch them. But I know -- I know that just like him that I'm not going to get anything from it, but I think in that sense, I got some of the things from him.

MANDEL: It became their norm. Though I spent -- I spent a good portion of my time going, "This isn't normal. You know, dad's just -- don't be like this."

And I've been very open with them to know, you know, "Where are you going?" "I've got to go tonight. I'm going to the psychiatrist." Or, "I'm going to the therapist." Or, you know, "I have to take my medication." Or whatever.

They're -- I'm open about that. I don't think we should --

KING: Did you worry about your dad a lot as a kid?

A. MANDEL: Yes, there were -- there were a lot of times where it got really bad and we saw, you know, where he is the funny man on stage, on TV, at home too all the time. But there's times that he has his freak-outs and he -- he'll literally go into a corner and back up and, you know, sit in a corner. He can't talk to anyone, can't be near anyone.

Or he'll lock himself in a room and not come out for a while.

KING: Do your friends kid you about this as a kid?

A. MANDEL: Yes, I mean --

KING: Do they come over to the house, play dates, every --

A. MANDEL: All of my friends like, you know, they joke about, like, "When I go over I'm going to try to shake his hand," stuff like that, you know.

They're all having fun with it, but, you know, it is -- it is a big problem that he has and that other people understand he has --

KING: Have you read the book?

A. MANDEL: Have I read the book? I've read -- little, I mean, he's -- he's like --

KING: You know the book.

A. MANDEL: Yes. I mean, he --

MANDEL: He lives it. He doesn't have to read it.

KING: Let me get a break. We'll be back with Howie Mandel and Alex Mandel, and the book is, "Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me."

Don't go away.



MANDEL: I've never been surrounded by this much medical expertise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all have hand sanitizer in our pockets.

MANDEL: Not as much as me.


MANDEL: We're back with Howie Mandel and Alex Mandel.

It had to be so frustrating, Howie, right? Doing -- did you change diapers?


KING: You did? You --

MANDEL: I did. He's here.

He's not wearing the same diapers.

Yes, it doesn't make any sense. I did change diapers, I did wash my hands. I did, you know, for years and years I shook hands on television. This is just a, you know, I think in the last six years I haven't shaken a hand.

Yes, I'm functioning, and I've always been able to get through. It's just hard.

But I realize that everybody's got their cross to bear. And, you know, this happens to be mine. And it could be worse. And, you know, of all the things that could possibly be wrong, this is -- you know, I'm -- I'm happy that there is help. There are people. It is real. And, you know, I can function.

And I'm very proud of my children. And I make sure that if they have any issues that they get the help that they need. And I hope that everybody out there, you know, gets the help that they need.

KING: Do you get help?

A. MANDEL: Yes. You know, that's one big thing though that -- that a lot of people ask is, "What about when you're sick?" "What about when anyone in your family is sick?"

KING: Yes.

A. MANDEL: And I think that, you know, he has a good sense of -- he has a good sense of what's most important to him. And I think that, you know, family is a huge thing for him, way bigger than any of his problems. Right away from being like a germaphobe and all that stuff like that, he will step out of them. It goes out of his mind. He doesn't even think twice about it. And he'll make sure, you know, we're OK, everything's OK, you know. He'll come in when I'm sick and stuff like that.

Even though sometimes he's wearing surgical mask and gloves and stuff --

But he still, you know, he still makes the effort to come in and make sure we're OK.

MANDEL: And I take you to the hospital and I, you know, it's -- those are tougher. It just feels different for me than it does for somebody who doesn't have this.

KING: And you bring it, frankly, having been the banker on your show.

MANDEL: Right.

KING: You're a frenetic host.

MANDEL: Right.

KING: I mean, you're all over the place.

MANDEL: Right.

KING: Right? You're jumping around --

MANDEL: I'm excited --

I'm happy to be working.

KING: That's part of the melody, isn't it?

MANDEL: I don't know. You know, I don't know. I don't really -- I'm not good at analyzing myself. And I just -- I just am. And as luck would have it in life, you know, whatever issues I've had, I've been able to function and get by and do whatever it is I've -- I've been asked to do with them.

KING: You get depressed?

MANDEL: A lot, yes.

KING: How do you deal with it?

MANDEL: I have help. I've talked to people. You know, I --

KING: Do you get depressed?

A. MANDEL: Not for the same reasons, but yes. I --

KING: It must be an interesting house. A. MANDEL: Well --

MANDEL: We're not depressed.

A. MANDEL: No, no.

MANDEL: I mean, we're a happy house but, I mean --

A. MANDEL: Yes, yes. But then mine's more, you know, it's -- I get -- you know, I try my best to do OK in school and do all the stuff like that, but my ADD does also get in the way. That's something that I think I just have myself and didn't get from him.

MANDEL: Do you think there's anybody that doesn't have depression?

KING: No, everyone has elements of it.

MANDEL: Right, but I don't think that people believe that it is something. You know, everybody gets depressed. I believe that there isn't a soul -- and I keep saying this, and maybe, hopefully this -- this, well, I don't know that the book does this. But hopefully when you read the book, you see that I get -- that you can function through anything if you go and check it out.

You know, I -- I did some work last year for the adult ADHD and, you know, I think they -- they had a web site,, where you can go there and you can take tests. If you believe that this is -- this is something that you may have, they -- it can be identified and your life can become better.

And my life is -- is phenomenal because of my family, because of professional help, because of medication.

KING: There's a TV series devoted to those with obsessive compulsive disorders. We'll have a look at it in 60 seconds.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A big part of the treatment of OCD is exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is literally exposing somebody to the feared situations that they've been avoiding for most of their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We actually got corn on the cob. We got the chips and salsa. We also got two apples.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm frightened, actually, to eat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you thinking about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm thinking my teeth are going to hurt? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then what will happen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Break a filling, break a tooth to the point of no repair.


KING: We're talking to Howie Mandel about phobias. Joining us now is John Tsilimparis. He is an impulsive -- obsessive-compulsive disorder therapist, mental health clinician, Department of Psychiatry, Cedar Sinai, one of the therapists, by the way, on the A&E show "Obsessed."

Mora Finnerty suffers from OCD, had phobias about losing her teeth. Says she would clean her teeth 30 to 40 minutes a night and was deadly afraid of eating apples and other hard foods. Helen Rhodes said she would re-check her doors, locked seat-belts for hours; not drive on a freeway in Los Angeles.

Howie's book is "Don't Touch Me."

All right, John, you're finally here. Give me a definition of this. What is OCD?

DR. JOHN TSILIMPARIS, CEDAR SINAI HOSPITAL: Well, the hallmark for OCD is the presence of obsessions, as well as compulsions. And obsessions are very repetitive, persistent, dark, intrusive thoughts, usually doom-and-gloom thoughts, that cause people a lot of distress. And the compulsions are these little mental acts or behaviors that people perform in response to the obsessions, and in hopes of mitigating anxiety.

Now, the linchpin to the whole disorder is that the compulsions actually give you a benefit. If they didn't give you a benefit, people wouldn't compulse.

KING: So they help you to do them.

TSILIMPARIS: Well, they actually mitigate the anxiety, meaning they lessen the anxiety a little bit, so it brings you back. If you think of, like, a little math equation -- pain plus relief equals repetition -- you're going to continue doing something that actually makes you feel good, even though you know, as Howie was mentioning before, that it's pretty out there, and we know it's unreasonable. But we keep doing it.

KING: Mora, how long have you been affected?

MORA FINNERTY, OCD PATIENT: I guess essentially over 20 years.

KING: Do you remember how it started?

FINNERTY: When I was 12 years old, I knocked out a front tooth, and ever since then -- well, until therapy, I never bit into a corn on the cob, never bit into an apple. I was afraid to bite into sandwiches, always afraid that even the fake tooth would fall out, which it did once in a while.

KING: This led to other fears.

FINNERTY: Other fears, yes. Humiliation, being unloved, being ugly, mostly, unwanted. More recently, being jobless and being alone, essentially.

KING: Are you getting better?

FINNERTY: Absolutely, yes. Absolutely.

KING: You feel you're getting better?

FINNERTY: I feel I'm getting better.

KING: Helen, when did you start suffering from OCD?

HELEN RHODES, OCD PATIENT: I've had it for a long time, but I think it was triggered about three years ago when my dad passed away.

KING: And that led to you doing what?

RHODES: Compulsing on anything and everything. Checking the locks, checking alarm clocks, checking seat-belts, checking the stove, checking all plugs. I think I had to have total control of everything in my environment.

KING: Wash your hands a lot?

RHODES: I'm not -- I'm not too much into the washing. I don't have a phobia of the germs. I'm more of the checking sort. I have a disaster fear. If I don't check everything, disaster is going to happen.

KING: Are you getting better?

RHODES: Yes, I am.

KING: By -- what do you notice?

RHODES: I'm able to get on the freeway and drive now. I have eliminated my need for checking the clock. I removed my alarm clock from my bedroom, so I don't have the need to compulse and do that. I usually ask my kids twice if their seat-belt is unbuckled, and then I won't ask it again. So I try to keep those thoughts out of my head.

KING: What are you better at, Mora?

FINNERTY: I'm better at my rituals, that I -- well, I really don't have as much of a ritual. I used to brush my teeth and floss up to 30 minutes a day, well, 40 minutes a day sometimes. And now it's 10 minutes or less. I've gotten rid of -- I had so many different dental devices that I used, and I've trashed a lot of them, gotten rid of them, and I no longer use them.

KING: Let's take a look at a clip of the A&E documentary series, "Obsessed," and see some of what they've gone through. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lanie, you got your seatbelt?






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Seat-belts? Seat-belts? Nick, I can't feel your seat-belt. Help me. Nick?







UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you guys have your seat-belts on?

Whatever you -- for them, you know? For the kids. I'm their mom, and they depend on me. I don't have a choice. You know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, God -- oh, my God. That's the last thing my dad saw.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy, what's wrong? What's wrong?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing. We're just waiting for the light to change.

It's so scary. I just feel so out of control.


KING: Howie, are you on that show?

MANDEL: No. And I can't even watch it, and I won't watch that clip.

I can't --

KING: Because --

MANDEL: I find -- I told you this -- it triggers me. You know.

I can't watch -- I don't need that thought going into my head.

On the way home, it probably won't happen, because I'm talking about it now. But on the way -- if I watch something like that, those are the kind of intrusive thoughts. I'm going to freak out that the seat-belt isn't done.

I can't. I started watching -- I thought -- I was excited when I heard about the show. And I turned it on. And I watched for about, maybe, three minutes.

And then I went, oh-oh, my God. I've got to call my therapist.

KING: Is attention deficit completely different?

TSILIMPARIS: There are some similarities in there. There's a lot of overlap with obsessive-compulsive disorder, what they call comorbidity -- depression, eating disorders, sometimes ADHD.

KING: Did you ever see anyone get completely rid of both of them?

TSILIMPARIS: People have asked me that a lot. And I think you need a little bit of anxiety in your life to survive in this world.

So, my job as a therapist is to help people put in a dimmer switch. It's not to turn off the anxiety switch altogether, but put in a dimmer and help them manage it a little bit better.

KING: When we come back, we'll see a little bit of a clip about Mora. Don't go away.


KING: We're back. Howie's book is "Don't Touch Me" -- "Here's the Deal, Don't Touch Me." It's an autobiography, a lot about this. A lot of funny stuff. A lot of stuff other than this.

Let's take a look at Mora in the A&E documentary series, "Obsessed."


FINNERTY: I start out with a water pick. And then I floss my teeth. And after that I use a water pick again. And then I use an electric toothbrush. I use the water pick again, just to rinse my teeth.

After the third use of the water pick, I will super floss. And sometimes I'll rinse with salt water. I'll use my prescription mouthwash.

If I skipped over my entire dental routine, I would imagine all the little particles in my mouth causing decay. And I wouldn't be able to see. I don't think that I could sleep at night.


KING: John, how many people have this?

TSILIMPARIS: It's estimated that 2.2 million Americans are affected by it each year. But as I was telling Howie earlier, I think the numbers are higher, because there are studies out there that show that people take up to 10, sometimes 15 years to actually come out of, you know, the OCD closet and actually get help.

So, the shame and the stigma is so high, that people are still terrified, even today, to talk about this thing.

KING: More men than women, or women than men? And overlay.

TSILIMPARIS: You know, it's not gender-specific. But I think that you'd probably see women more, because it's more apt that women would come to treatment before men would.

KING: How about racial effect?

TSILIMPARIS: I don't think so.

MANDEL: Is it genetic?

TSILIMPARIS: Well, good question. It's considered a neurobiological illness, so it's a combination of the genetics. You're hard-wired for this kind of disorder. But it's also about your environment, and how traumatic events, life situations can actually spike it and/or make it worse. So it's a nature and a nurture.

KING: Was it hard, Helen, to talk about it, initially?

RHODES: Initially, yes. It was very difficult to talk about it. I think I'm to a point now where --

KING: You're here.

RHODES: Exactly. I'm here. And I've accepted it. And you know, my biggest thing that I'd like to say, Mr. King, is that people like me, like us, we're not contagious. You can't catch OCD from us. We're human --

KING: People treat you like they can?


KING: Really?

RHODES: It's really not a funny disease. It's really lonely.

KING: Mora?

FINNERTY: Well, I -- KING: You're out.

FINNERTY: Yeah. I guess what I'd like to say is that it is important to erase the stigma. I had stigma against myself, even. And in my lowest point, I felt that I was simply existing. I wasn't living anymore. I was here, I was alive, but I wasn't existing, and I knew that I needed help, and I just had hope that somebody could help me, and I saw the opportunity to get therapy. And now I just want to spread compassion to people.

KING: Howie, can you laugh at it?

MANDEL: Yes. I mean, laughter is my -- is my --

KING: Therapy.

MANDEL: -- as I said before, is my -- no, it's my bridge, you know? If I don't laugh at it, I'll cry, you know. I'll -- all my life, you know -- I grew up -- I'm 54 years old. So when I was growing up in the '60s, you know, it was just normal -- it was just accepted that, you know, I freaked out if I was fighting with my brother -- and I talk about this in the book. All he had to do -- and he's my younger brother, and I could probably have beat him -- but if he held up the lid to the laundry hamper, I would scream like a little girl and run away, and the fight was over. Nobody questioned that. Nobody questioned the fact that, you know, I never tied my shoe because the lace touched the -- and I would walk like Quasimodo, as I said before, and walk home. And I was deeply depressed. And I didn't want to touch things. And nobody said, you know, there's help for that, or nobody identified it.

So to have it identified is, as she said, and -- and to come out, as he says, there's comfort in that.

KING: John.

TSILIMPARIS: And I just want to comment too on the loneliness around it. It is a very lonely illness, and it's -- a show like "Obsessed," a book that Howie's written, I think very, very slowly will help sort of de-stigmatize that process.

MANDEL: It's very lonely. Thanks for bringing two more people so we could be together.

KING: Thank you all.

MANDEL: Like an OCD party.


TSILIMPARIS: Can I say one other thing? Remember, there's sanity in numbers. The more that the word is out and the more that we know that people like Howie, policemen, CEOs, comedians, athletes, have it, I think the stigma will lessen and people will accept it a lot better.

KING: I salute you, Howie. The book is "Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me." Thank you, Mora. Thank you, Helen. Thank you.

MANDEL: Thank you.

FINNERTY: Thank you.

RHODES: Thank you.

KING: Hope we helped you tonight. Thanks for watching. "AC 360" is next.