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Howie Mandel Says Kids Walk 'a Tightrope'

11/30/2009 at 08:00 AM ET

Jen Lowery/Startraks

In his new book Here’s The Deal: Don’t Touch Me, television personality Howie Mandel opens up about his ongoing battle against obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The 53-year-old dad-of-three says that his family has also often paid a price, with Howie describing himself as a “hard guy to live with.”

Wife Terry and the couple’s children Jackie, 25, Alex, 20, and Riley, 17, have “had to cope throughout the years with my idiosyncrasies,” Howie reveals. “It’s a tightrope.” He adds,

“All of us have gone through therapy. I don’t think there’s anyone alive that doesn’t need coping skills when you’re married. They have always loved and supported me. But even with all that support and love it’s still incredibly hard, sometimes terrifying and dark.”

Here’s The Deal: Don’t Touch Me is available now.

Source: USA Today

– Missy

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Showing 13 comments

Elizabeth on

I can relate to that as I have OCD and I know my husband puts up with a lot. Everything in even increments, no using the garbage cans, no shaking hands, everything lined up symmetrically. It’s hard for him to deal with that.

Nicole on

I am right there with you. I have OCD and my husband tries his best to not let it get to him. He brings me back down to Earth sometimes. I hope my kids don’t become messed up (for lack of a better phrase) because of my stupid cleanliness issues.

Natasha on

I was recently diagnosed with OCD.. And I am 23 and I thought I just liked things to be a certain way and the diagnosis came as a huge shock to me. My family and friends have been telling me for along time that they were sure I had OCD.. So I decided to see a psychiatrist, and I have a 4 year old daughter who is starting to be a ” neat freak ” like me. And it horrifies me. Absolutely horrifies me. I clean up to 8 hours a day. I’ll get up during the night to clean and disinfect everything. OCD is controlling my life. I put my daughter in therapy to have this adressed because I don’t want her turning out like me. It’s horrible. I absolutely understand Howie

JM on

nicole, i’m sure your kids won’t get messed up by it because you seem to have an awareness of it. and i’d imagine you’re getting the help you can get for it. you can explain to your kids that you have a condition and that you can’t help it but they don’t need to be scared of dirt and germs and that you are working on not being scared of them either because you have no reason to be. and your husband can help by re-inforcing this. sorry, it might be none of my business but that would be my advice.

Nicole on

JM, it’s ok. I appreciate the understanding. I hate being like this. I guess I learned it from my mom and her side of the family, who all suffer from OCD. It is a horrible way to live your life. I have to remind myself to enjoy life and let my kids get dirty and enjoy it because it will all pass you by if you let it.

noam on

i have ocd and have always appreciated howie mandel for talking about his experiences. too many people think being neat and organized is having ocd, and too few people understand the all-consuming fears and delusions that accompany it.

because ocd is a mental disorder, it is thought to be genetically linked. nicole and natasha–if you have been diagnosed with ocd, it is important to realize your children may be afflicted as well. talking about it,and possibly going to family therapy, is often a good idea. it is also important to realize that each person is affected in their own way. a person whose ocd is manifested in a fear of germs may have a child who could care less about getting dirty and touching hands and doorknobs and the like, but whose ocd is manifested in something else, such as the hoarding of a particular item. (children particularly are drawn to colors and patterns, such as always needing to keep or touch or hold something blue, even if it’s garbage.)

if you suspect your child has ocd tendencies, first casually ask why they are displaying the behavior you are concerned about. children are often unaware that there is anything abnormal in their behavior. so, if your child is obsessively drawn to things that are blue (for example), ask why he has picked up the blue gum wrapper from the gutter or why he always wears blue. key phrases could be “i need this”, “it makes me feel safe”, “this calms me down”, etc.

Sonya on

I was watching him on Live with Regis and Kelly one day and was wondering about how his family handles it. I imagine it’s hard for little kids to understand that they can’t touch daddy, etc.

mmh on

Aren’t there treatments for OCD?? A former roommate tried a number of medications for his, with some success. Don’t suffer needlessly!

christina on

I watched the interview and found it very sad. I hope his kids are all in therapy.

Brittany on

As an ocd and anxiety sufferer myself, it is refreshing to see someone with such a reputation open up and share their struggles. I hope Howie finds the help he needs with medication and therapy- it can get a lot better.

Sarah M. on

mmh (#8) – Some people don’t want to turn to medicine at all. Some prefer to do what they can without medicine and use medicine as a last resort. The list of warnings on some medications can actually be worse than what you are taking the medication for, sometimes!

Sarah M. on

mmh – I wasn’t meaning to offend and hope it didn’t come off that way! It’s just what I’ve noticed with certain people that I know or know of. :)

I’ve never been diagnosed with OCD, but I’m probably close to it. I do know that I like things VERY organized, everything has a specific spot that it goes and it disgusts me when I see hair (animal or human) all over things. I’d be interesting to see what a psychiatrist would have to say about it…

noam on

mmh: there are some medications that have helped people with dealing with ocd. however, as far as i am aware, there is yet to be a truly reliable medication. everything i have read about has been largely experimental or has had widely varying results. the most common form of treatment still seems to be therapy. i went to absorption therapy for several years, which essentially consists of being forced to NOT act on your obsession or compulsion. i have issues on balance (if something happens to the right side of my body, it needs to also happen to the left, even if it is painful or dangerous, otherwise i feel one side is heavier than the other and i am unable to function) and in therapy, they would tap me on one shoulder and not let me tap the other. the primary goal is to get the patient to understand their ocd is the result of “mixed wires” in the brain, and that nothing tragic will result in non-action. it is a difficult process, one that is similar to addiction. there is no cure (yet), just living day-to-day.

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