Article by Tony Sokol
Howie Mandel was hypnotized into shaking hands with his co-stars on the May 26, 2015, broadcast of “America’s Got Talent.” That might not seem like a big deal, but the game show host and celebrity judge is a renowned germaphobe, which can make the very thought of shaking someone’s hands a frightening experience.
Howie Mandel was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and has “mysophobia,” a fear of germs. As affable game show host, Howie welcomes “Deal or No Deal” contestants with a fist bump to keep contact at a minimum. Mandel is so stricken with the malady, he entitled his autobiography, “Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me.”
During the Los Angeles auditions in this season of “America’s Got Talent,” a hypnotist named Chris Jones hypnotized Mandel into thinking everyone he saw was wearing latex gloves. The broadcast showed Mandel earnestly shaking hands with his fellow judges. Heidi Klum and Mel Brown reported being stunned when Mandel shook their hands.
While under hypnosis, Mandel joked that he put his therapist into a “whole new tax bracket” for helping him deal with his OCD, but Jones had him shaking people’s hands in five minutes.
The video of the hypnotized Mandel went viral.
“It’s amazing to see I survived it,” Mandel told journalists after the show aired.
The day after “America’s Got Talent” aired, May 26, Mandel sat for an interview with Savannah Guthrie on “The Today Show” to reveal what really happened when he was hypnotized on TV.
Mandel said that while “America’s Got Talent” only showed about five minutes of the hypnotic session, he said he was actually under hypnosis for about 20 to 30 minutes.
“I was upset about it, and it’s hard for me to watch,” Mandel told The Today Show. “I didn’t know. I was not prepared for that to happen. I just didn’t know what he was going to ask me to do and I felt somewhat betrayed.”
“My mental health issues are something I’m serious about and people would be serious about.”
“You can be cajoled into a state of comfort,” Mandel told Savannah Guthrie. “I was a good sport and said I was willing to be hypnotized. I got really comfortable. I feel he took advantage of me and I wish he wouldn’t have done what he did.”
During his appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on June 5, Mandel said that while the show was done “all in fun,” seeing the footage sent him to “emergency therapy sessions.”
Mandel said he felt manipulated.
“I don’t know why he ever brought me out of it,” Mandel admitted.
Mandel finds the segment hard to watch, but admitted that his therapist sees it positively.
“The fact that Mandel believed, even for short time, that his fellow hosts wore latex gloves is amazing,” Beloff said. “The hypnotist Chris Jones did an incredible job. I assume he was very sleek about building rapport, or trust, in a very short time and using a hypnotic induction with multi-layered suggestions to make Mandel bypass his critical faculty.”
“Imagine if Mandel went through a course of multiple hypnotherapy sessions and was made to believe that his OCD is irrational. That, just like billions of other people in the world, he will not die from germs, as much as his OCD is ‘telling’ him. In hypnosis he could understand and accept that this message is obsolete.”
”The only problem with people that suffer with OCD like Mandel is this: they often secretly don’t want to get rid of the disorder, they kind of cherish it. They succumb to the message of their fear. Think about it. Mandel makes so many of us accept his fear of germs, his fear is not only controlling him but also controlling many people around him by accepting it as a disorder that cannot be and should not be changed.”
Mandel, 59, is a show business veteran. He has worked 35 years since moving out of the comedy clubs and into the eighties hit hospital drama “St. Elsewhere.” “Deal or No Deal” debuted in late 2005 with Mandel as host. For the past six years, he has been a judge on “America’s Got Talent.”