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Paula Zahn Now

Crocodile Hunter Killed By Stingray; Mysteries of the Mind

Aired September 04, 2006 - 20:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
On this Labor Day Monday, we bring you a -- a special edition of PAULA ZAHN NOW, "Mysteries of the Mind."

First, though, Steve Irwin -- you most likely known him as the Crocodile Hunter -- is dead. He died doing what his fans would have expected, filming a segment, and killed by a dangerous animal. Along with his heavy accent, fearlessness seemed to be his trademark. Whether it was engaged in a struggle with a crocodile or staring down a venomous snake, he always walked away. And we always watched.

But, today, the 44-year-old wildlife crusader unexpectedly met his match. He died during a shoot off Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

CNN's John Vause is in Brisbane, Australia, with our first report.


STEVE IRWIN, CROCODILE HUNTER: It means the crocodile has come up here just moments before I got here.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the end, Steve Irwin, it seems, just got too close, not to the jaws of a crocodile or one of the world's most deadliest snakes, but to a stingray. Normally considered placid, unless it feels threatened, the triangular-shaped venomous fish lashed out with its swordlike tail, according to witnesses, piercing Irwin's heart.

JOHN STAINTON, BUSINESS MANAGER OF STEVE IRWIN: He came over the top of a stingray, and a barb -- the -- the stingray's barb went up, and went into a chest, and put a hole into his heart.

VAUSE: Marine experts suspect it was the trauma of the wound, combined with the release of toxins, that was fatal. The man best- known and best-loved for his passion for Australian wildlife had spent a week on the Great Barrier Reef, filming a documentary called "The Ocean's Deadliest," with Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the famous Jacques Cousteau.

But bad weather had kept Irwin inside. So, instead, he headed to shallow waters to film a segment for a kid's TV show featuring his 8- year-old daughter, Bindi. She wasn't there at the time of the attack, but those who were say Steve Irwin never regained consciousness.

STAINTON: And I don't think -- I hope he never felt any pain. Irwin's support crew made a desperate 30-minute dash by boat to a nearby island and a waiting medical chopper. But, in the end, there was nothing that could save the Crocodile Hunter. Despite a lifetime seemingly so close to the edge of death, Irwin's passing was met with stunned disbelief across Australia and around the word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His life was so amazing. I can't believe that it has ended so tragically.

VAUSE: Irwin's American wife, Terri, was on a hiking trip in Tasmania when she received word, but has now returned with their two children to their home at Australia Zoo, where flowers have been left by fans. And such was Steve Irwin's appeal. Tributes have come from ordinary Australians and from the country's prime minister as well.

JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: He was a well-off character, and he wasn't just a character for Australians. He was a character for lots of people around the worried.

VAUSE: With this thick Australian drawl, broad smile, and endless enthusiasm, he taught his audience about the creatures around us in life, and now in death as well.


VAUSE: And, Rick, an idea, of Steve Irwin's popularity here in Australia, the government is now offering a state funeral for Steve Irwin, should his family decide that's what they want -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: I'm curious about the type of stingray that may have attacked him. Certainly, we have a lot of stingrays here in the United States, and I know there's many different varieties of stingrays. Is -- is the one that attacked him any different, perhaps more dangerous? What do we know, if anything, about that?

VAUSE: Well, we know that there's more than 400 different types of stingrays out there. The precise one which attacked Steve Irwin, obviously, no one knows, and certainly and is likely to ever know which stingray actually attack Steve Irwin.

More will be revealed during the -- the coroner's inquest, if there is one, and -- and certainly during the autopsy, which was conducted of Cairns over the last couple of hours.

What we do know about stingrays, at least in Australian waters, that fatalities from stingray attacks are fairly rare. There has only been two previous fatal attacks in Australian waters, one back in 1938 -- a woman was killed -- and one back in 1945, when an Australian soldier was killed. So, it is very rare -- Steve Irwin only the third recorded death.

SANCHEZ: Now, you...

VAUSE: Rick.

SANCHEZ: You mentioned we may never know, but there were people swimming with him at the time, right?

VAUSE: There was, in fact, a documentary crew. And one of these bizarre twists in Steve Irwin's life, all of this was caught on film. A documentary crew was with him.

That film has been handed over to police, and that will be used in any sort of coronial inquest, if there is one, and will help determine...


VAUSE: ... the precise cause of death -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Interesting details.

John Vause, we thank you for that report.

Well, Steve Irwin will be given a state funeral, if his family chooses. This is according to the Australian newspaper report. The paper quoted the premier of Queensland as saying: "Irwin put Australia on the world map. His enthusiasm and energy helped win fans."

Irwin himself traced his love of wild animals to his parents, who ran a zoo in Australia.

He talked about their influence on "LARRY KING LIVE" nearly two years ago.


IRWIN: My parents actually guided me in the direction that I've gone. They started Australia Zoo in 1970. So, I was running around in the wilderness since the day I was born.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": But you don't have to like it. Some kids are born into a family situation. The father's a lawyer; they don't want to be a lawyer.

IRWIN: Yeah, absolutely.

KING: But, obviously, you liked it.


IRWIN: Loved it. Not only did I take to it like a fish to water. But, when I was 4 years of age, my dad noticed that I had a gift with wildlife that he had never seen, nor encountered ever before, you know?


IRWIN: How many singles have you got back there, dad?


IRWIN: We were out catching snakes for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory.

I found this big brown snake. And I sunk my foot back right on it. And I was like bare feet. I had these little sandals on. And I'm going, dad, dad, I've got one. And he comes on and he goes, whack, knocks me out of the way. Broke my heart. I ran away crying.

The snake was at my leg, poised, but wasn't biting. And from then on, when he saw that, he thought to himself, what's this kid got? And then, when I was 9 years of age, he allowed me to catch my first croc. And I guess I must have made him proud. And I demonstrated to him that I had a gift with wildlife. And -- and -- and he nurtured that with my mom, and now...


KING: What...


SANCHEZ: We should tell you that "LARRY KING LIVE" will replay Steve Irwin's entire interview tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. It's following PAULA ZAHN NOW.

There's no doubt that stingrays are dangerous, but, still, they don't have a -- a reputation as a killer. In fact, Australian media say Irwin is only the second known swimmer to be killed by a stingray -- the first, a boy died 18 years ago. That may explain how unlikely it is for the stingray's barb to actually kill someone.

Stewart Clark, vice president of Discovery Cove in Orlando, works with stingrays.

That's why, earlier, I talked to him about this accident.


SANCHEZ: Stewart Clark, from Discovery Cove, thanks so much for joining us, sir.

STEWART CLARK, VICE PRESIDENT, DISCOVERY COVE: You're welcome. Thanks for -- thanks for talking to us today.

SANCHEZ: You're sitting there, as I look at you, surrounded by stingrays. Knowing what we have heard about Steve Irwin's death, are you a little more concerned today than you normally would be?


You know, the -- all the stingrays here, we actually trim the barbs off of them. So, you know, it's such an unfortunate accident that happened with -- with Steve Irwin today.

And, obviously, our -- you know, our thoughts are with his family and really go out to his family and his kids. But these guys, the little guys you see me around me here, we actually keep those -- the barbs all trimmed on those. SANCHEZ: Can you show us, when you say the barb, what you're talking about on the animal?

CLARK: Well, actually, you know, as the -- as the stingrays swim by, you will notice they have got a tail. And, hopefully, that is coming out in the picture there.


CLARK: But you will notice they have got a tail area.

And, normally, the barbs will be laying right along the top of that tail. And what happens is, if the animal is -- is disturbed, they're used as a defense mechanism. And if, you know, a predator is coming on top of the animal, that tail can whip forward, and then it exposes those barbs. And that's exactly why we keep them, you know, nice and trimmed here.

SANCHEZ: So, a barb is something that can really protrude right through the skin. And it seems to have been what happened to Steve Irwin. It's also happened to other people in Florida and other places who have just been walking on beaches, right?

CLARK: Right.

It will -- most of the time that you hear about an -- an unfortunate injury like that, it's -- it's due to somebody walking along the sand and maybe stepping on top of a stingray.

And, as far as, you know, Steve Irwin's, you know, accident goes, that is just such an unfortunate and just a -- a bizarre chain of events that led to that.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And it's interesting you call it a bizarre chain of events, because we have been, obviously, in touch with a lot of people who blog today. And the bloggers out there are saying that Steve Irwin, because of his nature -- and many of them obviously have watched his shows -- likely provoked the animal.

Given what you know, do you think that he did? Is it necessary to have to provoke one of these animals to have it do something like this, or can it just happen as a part of happenstance?

CLARK: You know, no. But, you know, again, not -- not being there and knowing all the circumstances, it's hard to judge.

But I -- you know, I would say it sounds to me like more just like an accident that happened with him. You're talking about one of the most experienced people in the world ever to deal with -- you know, with potentially dangerous animals.

And I just don't see him putting himself in -- in a -- in a position that way. And this just sounds like such a -- such an odd chain of events...

SANCHEZ: Yes. CLARK: ... and just a -- you know, such -- so unfortunate.


We're looking at that picture now, where he was holding the baby, and -- and -- and the crocodile was in front of him. And he eventually ended up apologizing, and saying he used bad judgment there.

But it -- it's likely those kind of scenes that make people -- or the bloggers, in this case, come out with this reaction. Obviously, it's early and speculative.

What should people do? I'm from Florida. We were always taught the stingray shuffle in your -- if you're in areas where you see a lot of stingrays. Is that what you should do?

CLARK: That is exactly what you will do.

You know, you will hear -- it's funny that -- that you called it the stingray shuffle. A lot of people, when they hear that, they're -- they think you're talking about, you know, some odd dance thing. But...


CLARK: ... it really is just shuffling your feet through the water.

And all that's simply going to do is, a stingray who is laying on the bottom, it's just going to let him know that you're approaching. So, as your foot is moving through the sand, instead of stepping down on to the stingray, you're bumping on to his side, and he's going to swim off, and -- and everybody's happy.


SANCHEZ: Stewart, we thank you so much.

Meanwhile, tonight, we want to examine what Steve Irwin and so many others do for a living, taking television to the extreme, actually putting their lives at risk, seemingly for our enjoyment. They push the boundaries of reality television.

His death today, though, has many wondering whether it has possibly gone too far.

CNN's Ted Rowlands investigates.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic, the biggest names in an increasingly competitive game of capturing animals for your television entertainment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you can see, I'm just feet away.

ROWLANDS: On the big screen, movies like "Grizzly Man" show what most would consider unthinkable, a man filming himself within arm's reach of wild grizzly bears. That man, Timothy Treadwell, a self- proclaimed activist, educator and amateur filmmaker, and his girlfriend were attacked and killed by a grizzly bear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He also weighs 539 pounds.

ROWLANDS: On stage, Las Vegas illusionist Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy knows the dangers of mixing entertainment with animals. In 2003, he was left in critical condition when a white tiger mauled him during a show.

Now the latest victim to fall while the cameras were rolling, animal conservationist, TV host, and star of the MGM movie "The Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin.

ANNIE HOWELL, VICE PRESIDENT, DISCOVERY NETWORK: He brought education, a knowledge about the -- the natural world to so many people who never had access to that kind of information. And he did it in a very entertaining and fun way.

ROWLANDS (on camera): While few, if any, would argue Irwin's expertise in the animal world, others with left concerned, wondering, is competition for an audience driving people into a wildlife danger zone?

British wilderness expert and television host Ray Mears says TV's demand for sensation pushed Irwin to be too daring, telling Reuters -- quote -- "He clearly took a lot of risks, and television encouraged him to do that. It's a shame that television audiences need that to be attracted to wildlife. Dangerous animals, you leave them alone, because they will defend themselves."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixteen-foot great white shark.

ROWLANDS: According to Nielsen data, animal programming with inherently dangerous content, like Discovery's "Shark Week," yield better-than-average ratings.

When Herzog's "Grizzly Man" premiered on the Discovery Channel, it drew 1.7 million viewers, a great audience for cable television.


JEFF CORWIN, HOST: Welcome to "Going Wild."


ROWLANDS (voice-over): Still, others in Irwin's line of work, like Jeff Corwin, believe their jobs have a greater purpose than just ratings, and definitely understand the risks involved.

CORWIN: Well, the reality is that -- is that there's always a risk when you work with wildlife. And you do your best to take precautions. You know, as for myself, I want to make sure that, when I'm doing hands-on work with wildlife, we have a legitimate reason behind that.

ROWLANDS: Whether it was entertainment or education, Irwin paid the ultimate price, doing what he loved most.

IRWIN: We got it.

ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.


SANCHEZ: A special edition of PAULA ZAHN NOW is up next. Paula explores the "Mysteries of the Mind," an eye-opening look at what causes people to do shocking things, from self-mutilation to extreme plastic surgery.

That's ahead on PAULA ZAHN NOW.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: More "Mysteries of the Mind" ahead, including this woman's strange story. What triggered her constant thoughts and fears of harming her own newborn baby?

Now on to an amazing display of mind over body. This one, you have to see to believe.

Senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is about to take you to the other side of the world, where a group of mystics hold a mysterious ceremony involving self-mutilation. As you watch, ask yourself if there's anything you might learn from one of the more bizarre "Mysteries of the Mind."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's after midnight in a mosque in Sunanda. Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh, a plastic surgeon from New York, is here, among the Sunni sect of Sufis. He came to Kurdistan to perform cleft lip and palate surgeries.

But a Kurdish colleague has brought him to see a secret ritual that Westerners rarely, if ever, are allowed to see.

Inside the mosque, it's all men and boys. Women aren't allowed here. By day, these men hold jobs and have families. But, once a month, they gather to do something only extreme Sufi sects do -- mutilate themselves. Their ritual begins with a driving drumbeat and chanting to Allah.

DR. KAVEH ALIZADEH, PLASTIC SURGEON: They started mentioning lines from the Koran, which essentially, as it relates to Mohammed being the prophet of God, and there's no god but God. So, they started taking those sequences of the Koran, and essentially making it shorter and shorter, as they started increasing the pace of the -- of the chants, and, as they started getting into the trance itself. GUPTA: It's rare to even see a Muslim man's hair, but, during this ritual, they remove their turbans. The spell deepens, as they begin their journey to show their god the power of their faith, their minds over their bodies.

ALIZADEH: As we were standing there, we felt drawn into this, the passion of what was going on there. It's pretty intoxicating.

GUPTA: Dr. Alizadeh is transfixed, as the ritual takes a shocking turn. The self-mutilation begins. This man bites into a fluorescent light bulb, outwardly, showing no pain.

ALIZADEH: He walked towards us, sort of almost an act of defiance to say that look at me and look at what I can do to myself. And that's when he broke the fluorescent light bulb, and he started chewing it in front of us. And he -- he very much wanted us to know that he doesn't feel anything.

GUPTA: The men are in a frenzy. Several have taken these skewers and thrust them right through their face, in one side, out the other, no hesitation and no apparent pain. Of course, I was left wondering, why? Why do this?

Dr. Alizadeh says, this is how they explained it to him.

ALIZADEH: The idea behind at least this sect of Sufis is to show that, by proving to themselves that they don't feel pain, to prove that they don't have the human experience at that moment, and they have detached themselves from the sense of the self. And, therefore, they can enter their spiritual self.

GUPTA: Now, the chief appears. He deftly pulls skewers from this man's face. There is no blood.

And this old man barely flinches as two skewers pierce his chest. Remarkably, he doesn't bleed as the chief pulls them out.

After the ritual, we spot this man again, with only drops of blood dotting his white shirt.

ALIZADEH: From a medical perspective, I was constantly trying to understand how can you actually train yourself to -- within minutes, to be able to be in a phase where you don't feel pain as much, and you don't have as much bleeding.

GUPTA (on camera): We wanted to show you this incredible footage, not because it's something you should ever try yourself, but to understand whether we, as humans, can control the way we feel pain.

For some answers, we turned to Dr. Herbert Benson, one of the country's top researchers in the mind-body connection.

This is some of the most remarkable, dramatic stuff.

DR. HERBERT BENSON, PRESIDENT, MIND/BODY MEDICAL INSTITUTE: Isn't that painful, just to imagine what that's like? Our mind is an incredibly important medical tool that can certainly counteract the harmful effects of stress, but, often, extend itself into these remarkable feats, such as we're viewing here.

GUPTA (voice-over): Our first question, how do the Sufi mystics control pain?

BENSON: The peripheral nerves are, of course, transmitting painful stimuli, but the interpretation aspects of the brain are shut off. So, you feel no pain.

GUPTA: So, the mind can turn off, not registering pain. But explaining the lack of bleeding is harder to do. It could be all the adrenaline surging through their bodies. Or it could be that they willed themselves not to bleed.

(on camera): I mean, to a lot of people listening, this sounds outrageous. This sounds like quackery. How can your mind not only control pain, but control bleeding?

BENSON: I don't know that. But, clearly, we are seeing mind- body effects that traditional medicine does not teach us.

GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Benson has spent 40 years looking beyond traditional medicine, to the mind, for answers. He conducted landmark research, showing Tibetan monks who, while in frigid conditions, could generate enough body heat to dry wet bedsheets, just by using their minds.

Benson says, this is something the rest of us can learn to do as well, through meditation.

New neuroscience research shows brain scans of people who meditate actually show less aging than people who don't.

BENSON: I would approach a patient.

GUPTA: Meditating, as Dr. Benson showed me, is something we can all learn to do. Choose a word or phrase you're comfortable with. I chose the word "gentle."

BENSON: Gentle. OK, let me show you how to do this.

GUPTA: Each time you exhale, repeat this word to yourself. Try not to think of anything else. After about three minutes, Dr. Benson observed my facial muscles were far more relaxed.

Given, 60 percent of all trips to the doctors are stress-related, Dr. Benson insists shutting off the mind like this helps the body revert to its innate healing state.

ALIZADEH: We're realizing, as doctors, that not only can we control the body, in terms of the processes of the bodies, but we can actually help our patients mentally to control the physical and physiological aspects of the body.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


ZAHN: If only we all could learn how to better control our minds and turn them off when we need to.

One more thing, Sanjay tells us that, although meditating may have pretty obvious benefits, there are conditions only medicine can help. So, you should always check with your doctor first.

Coming up next: Could you live with this kind of mess? Why can't hundreds of thousands of people throw anything away?

Also, a bizarre mental disorder that caused a young woman to become so obsessed with getting things perfect that it ruined her life -- those and more "Mysteries of the Mind" when we come back.


ZAHN: Welcome back to our special hour of "Mysteries of the Mind."

We turn now to people who can't seem to be able to throw anything away. No, I'm not talking about the usual cluttered closets or a teenager's dirty laundry dumped on their bedroom floor.

You're about to enter the homes of some people who simply can't help keeping piles and piles of virtually everything.

Here's Ted Rowlands.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): From the outside, this home seems to fit its suburban Illinois neighborhood. But, inside, you immediately see that Kathleen Haskin has a problem.

KATHLEEN HASKIN, HOARDER: My paperwork is over in this direction. Some of this is books that I just recently got, because I definitely hoard books.

ROWLANDS: Kathleen is a hoarder. Nearly every room in her house is stacked with things she has collected and won't let go, clothes she has never worn, presents she has never given, knickknacks, furniture. It's endless.

HASKIN: I also hoard -- I love tapes. I love music. I like any self-help, self-development things, so, I -- I have a lot of tapes. Haven't put all the holiday decorations away yet, so, I have got a pile there. You know, the -- things have a tendency to get knocked over.

ROWLANDS: There's laundry on the floor, some of it clean. The kitchen is overflowing. Even Kathleen's bed is full of stuff.

(on-screen): How do you sleep in this bed? Where do you -- how do you do it?

HASKIN: Well, this -- what I usually do, when it's time to go to bed, I just move this stuff. This stuff, I put on the bed as I'm sorting, but I just move everything off, usually, like this.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Kathleen says, last summer, she slept outside on this swing, because her house was so full. She says, over the years, people have tried to help her.

HASKIN: People have thrown my things away before, and I have actually gone back to the trash to get it, to retrieve it, and brought back the whole trash bag in, and gone through it. And, one time, I even climbed in a dumpster, because they threw my things in a dumpster.

ROWLANDS: Kathleen is a nurse, twice divorced, and mother of five. Her 13-year-old daughter is the only child still living at home. Kathleen says, her hoarding has not affected her job, but has hurt her family.

Her son, Abraham (ph), left home at the age of 14 to live with an older sister. Kathleen says, her hoarding has not affected her job but has hurt her family. Her son Abraham left home at the age 14 to live with an older sister. Kathleen says before he left, he told her she wished that she was a drug addict.

KATHLEEN HASKIN, HOARDER: He actually said to me, I wish you were because then they'd have a reason to take me away from you. That's how strong he felt about the clutter.

PETER BELANGER, KATHLEEN'S SON: We're all trying to help my mom progress in her situation, trying to get her out from the hole that she's in.

ROWLANDS: Kathleen's son, Peter, is in college. He's planning to move in with his mother during his summer break. He says the mess may be an issue.

BELANGER: You don't want to take the average person to your house and show, you know, this is what my house looks like.

ROWLANDS: Kathleen is by no means alone. It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of others in the United States are suffering from the same problem, including Richard Duffield. Richard has not allowed anybody into his house in 33 years until now. He's allowing us to see it for the first time.

Richard's hoarding problem is with paper.

RICHARD DUFFEILD, HOARDER: Mainly books, trade papers, Variety, Hollywood Reporter.

ROWLANDS: Richard lives alone in Los Angeles. For years he's been saving newspaper articles, magazines, and any other document he finds interesting.

DUFFIELD: This is a file of opera reviews.

ROWLANDS: Richard says has a problem with procrastination.

DUFFIELD: I bought these lamps at a friend's yard sale. Wonderful lamps. I'll use those someday. Here they are seven, eight years later because I'm too busy getting more or avoiding them.

ROWLANDS: Richard also avoids his kitchen which he says he hasn't used for six years.

DUFFIELD: Around the year 2000 it became of no interest to me and obviously too cluttered and too much bother and I went about my business and ignored it.

ROWLANDS: Richard also ignored his roof. For years it was leaking but instead of getting it fixed, Richard said he just put buckets down to catch the water. Richard says he wanted to fix his roof but couldn't decide who he should hire.

DUFFIELD: I would have estimates, but then deciding which one, which one will it be? I might make a mistake.

ROWLANDS: Both Richard and Kathleen acknowledge they have a problem. Kathleen says she used to keep a clean house. She's not sure if her problem is due to a heredity. She says she has an aunt who broke her hip stumbling over clutter. Kathleen bruised her ankle the same way the day before our interview.

HASKIN: I don't even really know what I hit it up against.

ROWLANDS: Kathleen says she buys most of her stuff from dollar stores and garage sales, constantly fighting the urge to buy more.

HASKIN: I'm going by like three different thrift stores and two dollar stores and it's just like with an alcoholic is going by a bar, they want another drink. It's like, I want to go in, I want to buy more.

ROWLANDS: Kathleen is trying to help herself through an Internet self-help group, but acknowledges she hasn't made much progress when it comes to cleaning her house.

DUFFIELD: I threw away 60 empty boxes a month ago from the living room. Looks like a lot in there in now. But there were 60 more.

ROWLANDS: Richard said it was a big decision to let us into his home after keeping it a secret from family and friends for 33 years. He is seeing Karron Maidment, a therapist with the UCLA obsessive compulsive disorder program.

KARRON MAIDMENT, UCLA OCD PROGRAM: What is your anxiety level there?

DUFFIELD: Seven, eight.

MAIDMENT: OK. You haven't been that high for a long time.

DUFFIELD: That's right.

ROWLANDS: Richard's therapy is focused on teaching him how to get rid of things he thinks are important.

MAIDMENT: We want people with compulsive hoarding to throw away things that feel special or important and see if it really is as catastrophic as they think it's going to be.

ROWLANDS: According to some experts, hoarding is the most difficult obsessive compulsive disorder to treat, with only about half of those who seek treatment having success. Richard says throwing some things away is so difficult he actually has a physical reaction to it.

DUFFIELD: You feel a constriction in the throat, a fast beating of the heart, something in the stomach, sometimes a bit of nausea.

DUFFIELD: Since getting help a few months ago, Richard has made progress. He's cleared a hallway and his bedroom of clutter. And after getting four estimates he finally hired someone to fix his roof. Kathleen says she works a few hours a week clearing different zones in her house. She's hoping that eventually with the help of her Internet group and a few close friends, she can some day get her house in order and her family back.


ZAHN: That was Ted Rowlands reporting, and you can see, both Kathleen and Richard say they continue to make progress with organizing and cleaning up their homes, but they've got a lot of work ahead. But if you or someone you know needs help overcoming hoarding, you can do an Internet search for the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation or consult your doctor.

Coming up next, you're about to meet a woman who is so obsessed with perfection that it ruined her life. We'll tell you why.

And a little bit later on, a new mom filled with endless thoughts of violence against her own newborn. All moms worry, but it's nothing like this.

Our "Mysteries of the Mind" continue in just a moment.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Rick Sanchez. The special edition of PAULA ZAHN NOW: "Mysteries of the Mind," continues in a moment. First here's a look at some of the headlines we're following for you on this night.

On this Labor Day President Bush spent time talking about America's laborers. During a speech at a maritime training school, the president emphasized the need for economic growth. He says to become more competitive the U.S. must become less dependent on foreign oil.

Out in the Atlantic potential trouble ahead. A tropical depression is on verge of becoming the sixth named storm of the hurricane season. That name, by the way, would be Florence. It's not expected to be a threat to land at least not until perhaps some time next week.

And "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin is dead. The popular Australian entertainer and wildlife enthusiast was killed today by a stingray off the Great Barrier Reef while works on segments for a new TV show. Irwin was 44.

Just ahead on "LARRY KING LIVE," a tribute to the crocodile hunter. Larry's one on one interview with Steve Irwin, aired in its entirety, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll have it for you. That's it for now. I'm Rick Sanchez. We return to PAULA ZAHN NOW: "Mysteries of the Mind."

ZAHN: Our next mystery of the mind is about perfection. Maybe you think someone in your family is the world's greatest perfectionist, but you're not even close. That's because there's a curious disorder you may never have heard of. It affects mostly young women and it drives them to be absolutely perfect in every way, in everything they do, every waking minute of the day. You're about to meet one of those young women with an unforgettable story of challenge and determination.

Here's medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Folding laundry is such a simple task, but watch what happens when Shannon Fleishman tries to fold this shirt.

SHANNON FLEISHMAN: I really don't want to touch that.

COHEN: She's desperate to smooth the wrinkles that bother only her. She's tortured that these sock seams don't line up perfectly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How anxious are you on a scale of 0 to 10?


COHEN: These clothes look fine to the rest of us, but in Shannon's mind they're a wrinkles, disorganized mess. And she wants more than anything...


COHEN: ... to make them look perfect.

HEVIA: Go ahead and shut it.

COHEN: As painful as this is to watch, imagine how painful it is for Shannon, who has a form of obsessive compulsive disorder called perfection obsession.

S. FLEISHMAN: A fear of making a mistake regardless of how little, how small, or minute it might be.

COHEN (on camera): So getting a load of dirty clothes off the floor would take three hours?

S. FLEISHMAN: Well, I only got three items in in three hours.

COHEN (voice-over): Growing up Shannon was an incredible kid. A popular girl, an A-plus student admired by her teachers, and a gifted athlete. She was the daughter every parent dreamed of.

LORI FLEISHMAN, SHANNON'S MOTHER: We were extremely proud of Shannon and her accomplishments.

S. FLEISHMAN: I would spend six to eight hours a night on homework because I would check everything and everything was done so thoroughly.

COHEN (on camera): So it sounds like you were in some ways the perfect girl.

S. FLEISHMAN: I was like the golden child.

COHEN (voice-over): But as Shannon got older, there were signs of a problem.

L. FLEISHMAN: Setting her alarm for like 2:30, 3:00 in morning to redo homework that was already done.

COHEN: Shannon graduated fourth in her class and was voted most likely to succeed. She won a softball scholarship to college.

S. FLEISHMAN: I have the expectations, that's like a 4.0, what I want to get, a 4.0.

COHEN: She couldn't live up to that 4.0, and when she had her first taste of failure, she began to unravel. Her doctor prescribed an antidepressant.

S. FLEISHMAN: The medicine wasn't helping. I remember telling him, I think I have OCD, and he said, no, you're just a perfectionist.

COHEN: So much so that she stopped turning in assignments because she felt they weren't perfect enough and she eventually flunked out of college.

S. FLEISHMAN: And it was a huge disappointment. And I was very ashamed and embarrassed.

COHEN: Her perfectionism became all-consuming.

L. FLEISHMAN: Things like taking care of groceries, she could go buy them, but she would get them home, she wasn't able to get them in the cupboard. She couldn't line everything perfect enough. She couldn't stop herself from ironing clothes. She literally burned her clothes.

COHEN: And she began what psychiatrists call obsessive compulsive rituals, counting everything.

S. FLEISHMAN: I would brush myself in sets of eight, I would blow my nose in sets of eight, I would put makeup on in sets of eight. The number of times I padded under my eyes in sets of eight, which I still do.

COHEN: These rituals took all day to complete and eventually took over her life.

S. FLEISHMAN: Sometimes I use the metaphor that it's like a record, the same song going over and over and over again in your head. You know, like, you just can't get rid of that obsession. It's just always there.

COHEN: The breaking point, when Shannon's parents got a long distance call from one of her friends. Their daughter needed help. But when her mother Lori (ph) went to pick her up, even she wasn't prepared for what she was about to see.

L. FLEISHMAN: When we pulled in that day, and I saw her the way she was, I just couldn't believe it was her.

S. FLEISHMAN: I was voted "most likely to succeed" by my high school class and now look at me.

L. FLEISHMAN: When you go from being on top of the world and able to do anything that your heart desires to not being able to wash yourself or do a load of laundry, it's pretty depressing.

COHEN: Shannon checked in to McLean Hospital's OCD Institute, a residential hospital dedicated to treating patients like her.

HEVIA: Let's try to put a big wrinkle in the middle.

COHEN: She's taking medication and getting intense behavioral therapy like this.

HEVIA: Leave the hair on it.

COHEN: It's called exposure therapy.

S. FLEISHMAN: Just leave it how it is.

HEVIA: Yes. Does that bother you?


HEVIA: OK. Then let's leave it.

COHEN: And counselor Carol Hevia is helping Shannon to deal with her biggest fears...

HEVIA: Stop before the last tug. S. FLEISHMAN: All right-y. I can do this.

COHEN: ... by confronting them head-on.

S. FLEISHMAN: All right. I guess it's done.

COHEN (on camera): I saw her, she was folding something, and there really was a hair on it, why not let her take the hair off of it?

HEVIA: Because she'd take off that hair, and then she'd see another piece of lint, and then she would see another piece of lint, and she could potentially be taking off lint for hours.

DR. MICHAEL JENIKE, MCLEAN HOSPITAL OCD INSTITUTE: There's more and more evidence that it really is a brain disorder.

COHEN (voice-over): Dr. Michael Jenike is head of the OCD program at McLean and one of the nation's top experts in the field.

JENIKE: So that we're actually looking at structure, we're looking at function, and trying to figure out what's going on.

COHEN: Brain scans show these areas of the brain control simple decision-making, like judging whether a shirt has wrinkles. In people with OCD, these areas are hyperactive, as shown by the red. When people with OCD try to make a simple decision, it keeps skipping like that broken record. So how do people they get this brain disorder? Most of the time no one knows. Some experts say there's genetic link. In some rare cases it's because of damage to the brain. What doctors know for sure is that there's almost never a cure, but treatment does help.

JENIKE: Cure is something we don't generally expect. Probably over 70 percent of the ones that stayed in treatment and really worked hard are doing really good.

COHEN: Shannon is a gifted artist, and this expression helps her to find some answers. This one is of a road that starts out bleak and on the road is a turtle. Shannon's friends used to call her "Turtle" because it took her so long to do everything.

S. FLEISHMAN: The road is lined with numbers going from one to eight that sort of fade away. The further down the road you get, the greener the grass is. The more -- you know, there's a beautiful sunset, there's so much more color and life.

COHEN: Shannon's been at McLean for a month-and-a-half, and she's halfway through her treatment.

(on camera): Do you think you'll ever come to feel that this bed is good enough even with this wrinkle, even with that lint?

S. FLEISHMAN: Honestly, no. I think I can live with little wrinkles. I don't think that my OCD will ever go away. I think that I can control it. Like maybe I can make my bed in five minutes, you know, it would be great.

This is going to be the toughest battle in my life that I'll have to face. I can still succeed.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Belmont, Massachusetts.


ZAHN: And we wish Shannon well, she's back home now, and she's still struggling with her OCD, but is making some progress, as you've just seen in that report.

Still ahead, you've heard of post-partum depression but wait until you hear about what made this new mom think endlessly about harming her own baby. Our "Mysteries of the Mind" special hour continues in just a moment.


SANCHEZ: I'm Rick Sanchez in Atlanta. Here's a program note. Larry King's interview with Steve Irwin will be seen tonight coming up at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. A fascinating portrait of the crocodile hunter in his own words. Again, that's a special edition of "LARRY KING" following PAULA ZAHN NOW.

ZAHN: So we've all heard of post-partum depression, the kind of extreme blues many women suffer after giving birth, but now we're hearing about other variations of post-partum conditions affecting new moms, conditions that make them terrified that they will harm their own babies. It's a story that caught our eye in Self magazine.

And Deborah Feyerick has the details.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even before her daughter was born, Wendy Isnardi admits she was a worrier.

WENDY ISNARDI, SUFFERS FROM PPV: I always worry about everything. I would be afraid that I left like a window open or a door unlocked, or the oven on or an iron. I would go to work, leave my job, come back home to make sure that I turned everything off, which I knew that I did.

FEYERICK: After giving birth to Madison four years ago, those worries turned very dark and very frightening. Wendy became obsessed something or someone, even Wendy herself might hurt the baby.

ISNARDI: I was afraid that he would fall down the stairs, she would drown in the tub, whether it was by me, by my husband, by somebody, I was just horrified.

FEYERICK: The violent thoughts kept playing in her mind, getting worse and worse.

ISNARDI: Every time I would try and stop the thoughts, they would just come on stronger and the anxiety would get stronger and stronger.

FEYERICK: It got so bad, Wendy was afraid to be alone with her own child.

(on camera): Did you think, oh my God, could I be an Andrea Yates?

ISNARDI: Yes, of course. That was my worst fear, and I think that is what -- you know, I kind of hid myself. I would, you know, just stay in my room and just be away from everything, because everybody would be safe.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Andrea Yates is the mother who drowned her five young children in the bathtub. Yates was diagnosed with post-partum psychosis. Wendy was not. Her problem was different. Something more common than most people realize. It wasn't just post- partum depression, but post-partum OCD. Obsessive compulsive disorder triggered by the birth of her baby. Dr. Shari Lusskin is a psychiatrist who treats mental illness in new moms.

DR. SHARI LUSSKIN, NYU MEDICAL CENTER: Up to 40 percent of mothers who have post-partum depression also have obsessive thoughts, and in general, in contrast to OCD at other situations, women who are post-partum have obsessions about the baby. So they worry in particular that they're going to do harm to the baby.

FEYERICK: That fear became so great, Wendy withdrew. Experts say that's a common reaction among new moms suffering from the disorder.

ISNARDI: I was scared to death. I didn't understand. I just cried. That's how I spent my days, crying.

FEYERICK: Wendy's husband, who is a police officer, and her mom, Pat, cared for the baby fulltime for almost three months.

(on camera): Did you think that she could actually hurt the baby?

PAT GUTTILLA, WENDY'S MOTHER: Oh, no, no. I was more concerned that she would possibly hurt herself, not the baby.

SONIA MURDOCK, POST-PARTUM RESOURCE CENTER: The fears of OCD with moms are very, very real.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Sonia Murdock runs the Post-Partum Resource Center of New York, which is where she and Wendy first met.

(on camera): Do these women fear that if they share their concerns, their thoughts that their child might be taken from them?

MURDOCK: Absolutely. That is one of the greatest fears of moms going through post-partum OCD. They are afraid that they are going to be judged as bad people, bad mothers.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Murdock and other experts say many women don't seek help because they're so ashamed of their own thoughts. But the overwhelming question, could these violent thoughts lead a woman to harm her own baby?

LUSSKIN: The short answer is absolutely not. The hallmark of OCD is that the patient recognizes that the thoughts are illogical and therefore they won't act on them.

ISNARDI: I was so afraid and I wanted to love her and hug her and kiss her, but I was afraid of, I don't know what.

FEYERICK: The first three months of her baby's life went by in a blur. That's when Wendy, a self-described perfectionist, reached out for help. Through her Lamaze coach, Wendy got in touch with a therapist and also a psychiatrist who put her on anti-anxiety medication.

ISNARDI: As soon as I started getting help, you know, and when I joined the group at the resource center, there were other women there, there were other mothers that were going through same thing, and it made it more normal to me.

FEYERICK: Wendy now volunteers at the Post-Partum Resource Center, talking to other women about her own experiences. As for her daughter...

ISNARDI: You have got to move out of the way when I come back, OK?

FEYERICK: ... the fear of really hurting her is all but gone.

(on camera): Do any of these thoughts come back?

ISNARDI: Not really, no. I mean, if they do, it's just a thought, and I just am able to just let it pass just like anything else.

FEYERICK: When you look at Madison now, are you afraid that you're going to hurt her?

ISNARDI: No, never. I love her so much. She's my life.

FEYERICK (voice-over): A life so precious, Wendy and her husband are now talking about having a second child.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Patchogue, New York.


ZAHN: And it's worth noting that a woman could be at higher risk for a post-partum OCD if she has a family history of depression or obsessive compulsive disorder. If she has suffered any trauma in her life or if she was depressed during her pregnancy. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here. Thanks so much for spending part of your holiday with us. We will be back same time same place tomorrow night, we hope you'll join us then.

In the meantime, have a great night and "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.