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Howie Mandel Once Opened up about Living with OCD — inside the AGT Judge's Struggle

Edduin Carvajal
Mar 20, 2020
10:15 A.M.
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Comedian and "America's Got Talent" judge Howie Mandel admitted in front of the cameras of ABC News that he has been dealing with OCD since he was a child.


Back in 2009, Howie was interviewed by "20/20" about his ongoing struggle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and how it has affected his life over the years. Scroll down to watch the video.

"I don't want any more handshaking."

Howie Mandel in a publicity photo for "America's Got Talent" season 12 in 2017 | Photo: Getty Images



In it, the "AGT" judge was shown covering his hands with his clothes before touching door handles, avoiding handrails, fist-bumping others, and even leaving his only anxiety pill on the floor because he didn't want to pick it up after it accidentally fell.

Apart from that, Howie pointed out that he chose to have a bald head because it felt "so streamlined and so clean."


Howie talked about his OCD problem for the first time in March 2006 during the "Howard Stern Show."

After finally announcing in public that he was dealing with the previously mentioned mental issue, the comedian decided to write an autobiography addressing the topic titled "Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me."

Howie Mandel on August 23, 2016 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images



However, talking about it was not easy. Howie revealed in "20/20" that he felt embarrassed after making his confession to Howard Stern as he considered he was humiliating himself and his family.

He even thought that it would end his career because people would know that he had mental issues.


Howie Mandel's OCD has been present since he was only a child. One of the situations that he recalled in the interview took place when he was six years.

Even though he knew how to tie his shoes, he'd refuse to do it because the shoelaces were dirty after touching the floor. His classmates and other kids believed, however, that he just didn't know how to do it.

Howie Mandel on April 4, 2014 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images



Consequently, they kept teasing him for walking around with his shoes untied. The people around him were only part of the problem as he said:

"I had like a fight going on inside. Like, 'I got to wash my hands,' or, 'I feel filthy,' or 'I haven't spent enough time in the shower,' or, 'there's something still crawling on me.'"


Terry, Howie Mandel's wife, was also interviewed during the episode and admitted that, initially, they didn't know he had OCD. She noticed, though, that her husband used to take a lot of showers and had "certain rituals."

Raising their three children was also "tough," according to Terry Mandel, because they would crawl on the floor and get dirty for Howie's standards.


His OCD issue is so severe that he even got built a house in his backyard so that he could escape from the germs that might be around his main home.

Howie also confessed that, if any of his children would be sick, he'd put a mask on. If it were Terry who got ill, they'd sleep and eat in separate rooms.



Shortly after his book was released, the "AGT" judge went to the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" to promote it and talk about his lifetime struggle. There, he wished that people would stop shaking hands and start making bows. He added:

"I don't want any more handshaking. I think we should do like Asia. I think we should all bow. I just wanna be bowed to. I don't wanna be touched."


In a video Howie recorded for the Child Mind Institute, he sent a message to his younger self regarding his mental health issues, urging him not to be quiet and ask other people for help.

He pointed out that, while not everybody would understand or have an answer for him, he would develop "a lot of coping skills" that would help him do better

The coronavirus pandemic is definitely challenging for people in Howie's situation, which is why he is taking things very seriously.

Earlier this month, Howie Mandel was seen wearing a hazmat suit, a gas mask, and protective gloves while making his way into the set of "America's Got Talent" in Pasadena, California. He and his wife have been staying home now, thankfully.


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