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Heaviest Woman Alive Now Wants Help; Hoarding: How Much is Too Much?
Aired December 29, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.
Extreme behaviors. A compulsive eater desperate to lose weight. She`s 700 pounds. Why can`t she stop eating?
Plus, hoarding, is it a sickness or something worse? One woman had 30 pets. The other is dumpster diving for junk, her junk.
And risking your life for fun. Jumping off buildings and skyaking - I don`t know what that is, but we`re going to find out.
Let`s get started.
Pauline Potter is a 2012 Guinness World Record holder. Her title, the heaviest woman alive. Who is Pauline and why would anyone want that honor?
Watch this then we`ll talk.
PINSKY (voice-over): Pauline Potter weighs about 700 pounds, give or take a few. And she takes a pride in being the heaviest living woman in the world.
PAULINE POTTER, 2012 GUINNESS RECORD HOLDER, ALMOST 700 LBS.: It is a little bit embarrassing, you know, to put me out there. I was smiling I guess because someone was taking my picture. What level of a, you know, good life I do have, I`m not going to sit here and cry and frown.
PINSKY: Now before you judge her, ask yourself if you were ever rewarded or consoled by food. Well, so do she, to the extreme, and she intentionally gained some of this weight in order to get help.
P. POTTER: I absolutely love food. I weighed about 220 in seventh grade. It`s almost the only thing I`ve ever known.
PINSKY: Pauline is a citizen of fat nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About one-third of all adults in the U.S. are obese. Seventeen percent of children are obese. The South has the highest obesity rate; the West, the lowest.
And health issues aren`t the only concern. Practical matters pose tremendous problems. This trip from her couch to the car took 10 minutes.
P. POTTER: I want more out of life. I want to be more physically active. I don`t want to have to sit in the backseat of my own car, you know? I want to get in the front seat and drive.
PINSKY: If she does not get serious about shedding the pounds, she may lose everything. Tonight, this 47-year-old mom is here to announce that she needs and wants help.
Pauline, thank you for joining us. I so appreciate it. Help me understand why someone would compete for the title of the heaviest woman alive.
P. POTTER: I knew that I needed help to lose weight, and I wrote to Dr. Phil, Oprah, Dr. Oz, and nobody would hear me or respond. So I decided to get in contact with the Guinness Book of World Records and I thought, OK, I`m already this size, I might as well take advantage of it to get my story out there.
So I knew it would be a little degrading. I knew I`d get some negative feedback from it, but it was the risk that I wanted to take to get my story out there so that I could get some weight loss help.
PINSKY: What weight were you when you decided to take this on and where are you now?
P. POTTER: When I got my weight documented, I was 643. That was back in - I think February. And the last time I weighed, I was about 703, and that was a few months ago. But I`ve been trying to eat fruits and vegetables and stuff, make wiser choices, so I`m probably a little bit under 700 now. You know, I don`t - I don`t really have any way of knowing, but really close to 700, but probably not at 700 right now.
PINSKY: Now, that tape we`re watching is of you walking just a few feet to the car. We also have some footage of you going to the couch. Let`s watch.
(voice-over): Pauline, we`re looking at you here and you`re obviously short of breath only walking a very short distance. How long do you think your body can withstand this?
P. POTTER: You know, I think that`s why I`m here today is I know I`ve pushed my body past its limits. I have knee pain every day, and I really need to get this taken care of, while I`m still healthy enough to -
PINSKY (on camera): And Pauline, I think people at home want to know how did this happen? You know what - is this something that had a genetic basis to it that you didn`t pay attention?
P. POTTER: There definitely is genetic. My mom is somewhere in her mid- 350, I thought close to 400, but I`m not exactly sure. I have several siblings that are over 300. So there is genetics involved, but I`m absolutely not blaming it on genetics. I have a big appetite. I have a sweet tooth. I have definitely overeaten and I do take my blame for it.
PINSKY: Well, listen, now you mentioned that your entire family, your siblings were all overweight. What was your childhood like?
P. POTTER: My childhood was actually very happy, and I have kind of - when I`m seeing my siblings that were over 300, there`s a little bit of a story to that. My dad was actually married five times, and his siblings - the siblings I have with his different wives, there`s eight of us, all of that side is over 300, except for one.
My direct family that I grew up with, my mom, you know, we had five children. Not all of them are over 300 at some point, but half of us were kind of chunky. We had a very happy childhood. We celebrated a lot with food, food for every occasion, happy and sad.
PINSKY: And how much do you eat now? I mean, what kind of caloric intake do you maintain?
P. POTTER: You know, I don`t really keep track of it, and I`m not trying to be in denial, but I don`t really feel like I eat a super, super amount now. I think maybe my metabolism slowed down after I had my son.
A lot of times I have bad eating habits as far as I wouldn`t eat anything until 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, and then I`m really, really hungry, so I`ll eat enough for two meals because I`m starving, you know? So I think it`s - it`s bad managing. It`s bad scheduling, and it`s a combination of things.
PINSKY: Are you - are you eating or have you - do you have a history of eating high caloric.? There we have a picture of you eating a watermelon. You must - you must have had a period of high caloric intake. I mean, you must have.
P. POTTER: I love candy. I love sweets. If I could have dessert after breakfast, lunch and dinner, I would do it. I don`t know why, but I mean, I always loved to be munching on, you know, even if it`s Jolly Ranchers, just sucking on them while I`m on the computer or something. That`s part of the compulsiveness I think is that I want to eat or have something in my mouth even if I`m not hungry.
And I know it`s a bad thing like I`m not trying to put myself on display as I`m a freak show, hey, look at me. But I`m just saying it`s a bad - it`s a bad habit that I have developed over the years, and I do regret it, and I do not like the position that I`m in now. And that`s why I`m putting myself out here as, you know, so I can try to change that.
PINSKY: One last question, Pauline. Have you made any big attempts at losing weight or had any professional help or done anything really systematic to try to lose the weight?
P. POTTER: I`ve tried many, many different diets from Jenny Craig to Nutrisystem to - there`s a cabbage soup diet that they put heart patients on to lose weight before surgery. I`ve tried Slim Fast. I`ve tried counting calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fat. Here at home, I`ve tried liquid diets. Oh, yes, I`ve tried a thousand diets for sure.
Most recently, though, in the last few months, I really started, because I love everything including fruits and vegetables, I have started when I get a sweet tooth, eating watermelon and cantaloupes. It`s summertime, so it`s the best time to take advantage of the melons being in season. I do eat a lot of watermelon, cantaloupe, any kind of fruit, I love all fruits.
So when I want brownies and ice cream, I`ve been exchanging it for fruit instead and that helps my sweet tooth a lot. So I`ve been, you know, working on it pretty good for the last few months.
PINSKY: And yet it seems like the weight continues.
But we`re going to talk about perhaps some solutions to that and how that needs to be managed, and how this should make us all think and pause on what we might be able to do with our own dietary habits.
And now Pauline can do very little on her own. So who is helping her out? It is her son. And much of his life is spent looking after his mom. He worries she may die. His thoughts on being the son of the heaviest woman alive, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DILLON POTTER, SON OF PAULINE POTTER: Dr. Drew, my mom weighs 700 pounds and I don`t want her to die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Well, none of us want her to die.
We are back with Pauline Potter. And those of you who are just joining us, we are talking to the Guinness Book Record Holder for 2012 as the Heaviest Woman Alive.
Now, remember, this show is all about trying to understand why people do what they do, and how we all can learn and apply it to our own lives and our own family and our loved ones.
Now, Pauline is a pretty dramatic case. And I think she knows that if she doesn`t get help soon with her weight, she could lose everything.
Joining me now is Dillon, Pauline`s 18-year-old son. You just saw him asking for help for his mom. Dillon now spends much of his time taking care of her.
We`re also joined by Dr. David Heber. He`s the founding director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Dr. Heber`s primary areas of research are obesity treatment and prevention. And Devin Alexander, healthy chef and author of the "Biggest Loser Cookbooks," including the "Biggest Loser Quick and Easy Cookbook" to be released November 8th.
First off to you, Dillon, what did you think when your mom got into the World Record Book?
D. POTTER: I just thought that, well, I knew she wasn`t the biggest one out there. But she needed to get her story out there, so a doctor will hopefully come forward and help her out.
PINSKY: Now, we had a camera crew up in Pauline`s home yesterday, and Dillon, if you look at this footage, you`ll see that it seems like you do a lot of work for your mom. We can see you`re the one really responsible for the safety and caretaking.
And I`ll tell you something, Dillon, you know, I deal a lot in my practice and over the years have dealt with care takers. And the one thing that always I caution everyone about is I don`t want a second patient. We got one patient. Are you taking care of yourself?
D. POTTER: I am. I`m taking care of myself as well as helping my mom out with stuff.
PINSKY: Pauline, I know you`re very dependent on Dillon, but I bet it`s difficult for you to see him helping and really dedicating his young life to you.
P. POTTER: It is. You know, it`s - it`s emotional for me. I do actually have a helper person that helps me with bathing and errands and helps run the house a little bit, but that person isn`t here all the time, so since Dill is here 24/7, a lot of it does fall on him. And I don`t know what I would do without him. I mean, he`s an awesome kid. But, you know, I do need his help, of course. But beyond that -
PINSKY: But, Pauline, I`m going to interrupt - we know you need his help, but we need to make you well enough so he can have a life. Don`t you agree?
P. POTTER: Exactly. Exactly. And that`s where a lot of my guilt is from is because I do need so much of his help, and I would love to have the day come where I don`t need him to help me up off the couch so that I can go to the bathroom, or I don`t need him to cook, you know, for me. Or, you know, he does do a lot of things for me that most children don`t do for their parents.
PINSKY: All right. There was a picture of him helping you out again.
But Dr. Heber, I`m going to you now. Your area of expertise is treatment of obesity. Where we do get started with Pauline? What does she got to do?
DR. DAVID HEBER, DIRECTOR, UCLA CENTER FOR HUMAN NUTRITION: Well, unfortunately, Pauline is in a point in her life right now where she`s going to need serious medical supervision, and I -
PINSKY: I`m going to stop you.
PINSKY: So the first note is coming - changing weight like this is not something you just follow Chef Devin`s cookbook.
HEBER: No, no.
PINSKY: She needs care - I mean, she did have some very serious metabolic problem.
HEBER: Absolutely. This is a woman with a very large protein mass. She`s got a lot of muscle on her body where concentrating on her fat, but that muscle needs to be supported with protein. She doesn`t get protein, her body will take it from her heart, which could be fatal. So this is someone who needs professional supervision.
PINSKY: And there`s also I imagine some surgery that she will need as well.
HEBER: Absolutely. She`s got a lot of what we call fat in the apron area. And there`s an operation you can - just cut that off and take off the fat. She`s also luckily got a lot of fat in her legs, which is actually a place where it`s metabolically less damaging to the body. Her upper body is not that bad.
PINSKY: Oh, that`s very interesting. But I imagine it`s still destructive to the tissue of her legs.
HEBER: Absolutely. And the worst thing is the mobility, her hips, her knees, her back. This is where the morbidity will come in. She`s 47. We need to do something now before she`s totally immobile.
PINSKY: And would something like a gastric bypass be appropriate?
HEBER: Ultimately it might be appropriate for her, but it`s a last resort. I would start her out on a very low calorie diet with medical supervision.
PINSKY: And finally what are the genetic predisposing elements that the environment have actually triggers in somebody like Pauline?
HEBER: Well, there`s definitely a genetic component. This type of obesity has gone up four-fold in our society. And the genes are there, but there are multiple genes. It`s not a single gene we`ll ever cure. She`s just very well adapted to starvation. I`d say she`s the kind of person who will be the last one to starve in a village a thousand years ago.
PINSKY: Well, we heard her say that she doesn`t eat until 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon sometimes.
PINSKY: And still not losing wait. Devin is shaking her head.
HEBER: Absolutely. That`s what we call the dieter`s plan. You don`t start eating until 4:00 in the afternoon. She`s got all kinds of hormones that make her have a thrifty genotype. She hangs on to every calorie. And so the genetic slows the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.
PINSKY: And finally for people that are sort of interested in this topic, there`s a whole hormonal system that determines hunger and satiation, you know, whether you`re full and that sort of thing. Are we making any progress on manipulating that system?
HEBER: It`s tough. It`s tough. Because we`re very well adapted to starvation, poorly adapted to over nutrition. Our genes are 50,000 years old and nature just doesn`t believe you`re going to find the next squirrel (ph) in the forest tomorrow, so you hang on to every extra calorie.
PINSKY: That`s very interesting.
Now, Devin, your story is you actually yourself lost 70 pounds. I mean, look at her. She`s fantastic. Beautiful, right? And you`ve written books about how to eat and how you did this. It`s a different - but even 70 pounds is something that average person can manage on - on their own, I imagine, I mean, generally speaking.
HEBER: Generally-speaking, people in the 30- to 40-pound range can generally manage on their own and that`s the public health thing that we have to tackle, absolutely.
PINSKY: And, Devin, do you have specific recommendations other than buying your cookbook and following directions?
DEVIN ALEXANDER, AUTHOR, "THE MOST DECADENT DIET EVER": No. I mean, just don`t completely starve yourself and get rid of everything that you crave, because I think that causes problems, too, long term. Like you lose it, but then you gain it back. So it`s like really focus on the things that you love that are going to excite you and make those things and have those in small quantities and then eat the fruits and vegetables and all of that.
PINSKY: Do you have any questions or direct advice for Pauline and her - and her son?
ALEXANDER: Well, direct advice -
PINSKY: Or questions about how, you know, what they have been doing or trying what they could try?
ALEXANDER: Well, I know the sweet tooth she said was big. And I do have a recipe for brownies that I know you`ve had.
PINSKY: They`re really good.
ALEXANDER: They`re 50 calories, though. So that`s one of the things, you know, for me sometimes I get the voice, like, you know, have something, have something and that can curb it and they -
PINSKY: So for the average person I think from talking to Devin in the past, what I`ve come to understand and I try to do this myself is pay attention. Make proper choices.
ALEXANDER: Well, and that is such a huge thing, because you can cut calories. I mean, you go and order a chicken breast sandwich in a restaurant and they put 200 calories worth of butter or lard on the bun. And by the time you put your ketchup and barbecue sauce and all of that, you don`t taste it anyway.
So just be really cautious about what you`re actually putting in your body. Because you can lose weight simply by, as you said, being aware.
PINSKY: And finally, Dr. Heber, what are we going to do for Pauline? She - Pauline, you`re on Medi-Cal, is that right?
P. POTTER: Medicare and -
P. POTTER: I think it`s Medicare and -
PINSKY: OK. So Medicare should cover this kind of intervention.
HEBER: Yes. She`s got a good University Hospital in her area in Sacramento. We work quite a bit with UC-Davis. We would be happy to work with some of the experts up there.
I don`t think she`s mobile at this point that she should come down here to Los Angeles. But we`ve had an excellent relationship with UC-Davis for many years. And they have a big Nutrition Department. It`s our land grant college for California. So I would be very happy to help communicate with her and see what we can do to help her.
PINSKY: Pauline, we`re going to hook you up with Dr. Heber. Does that sound like a start at least?
P. POTTER: Sure, thank you very much.
And when we come back - thank you to my guests, of course. We will take up the issue of hoarding. Could you live with 29 cats and 9 dogs? One woman did, and almost lost her family because of it. It`s cute - but not - oh, that`s not cute anymore.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOLANDA JONES, HOARDER OF PETS: I could never live without my animals. Literally can`t live without them. And if everybody else walked away, my cats are still there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Welcome back.
Tonight we`re talking with people who are dealing with hoarding. Now, we all have things we can`t get rid of, but compulsive hoarding is the act of accumulating possessions in excess of normal amounts - great excess.
Our first guest is Yolanda Jones. She is a married mom of five with at one point owns 29 cats and 9 dogs. As you can imagine, it was not easy being in the Jones household. Take a look.
PINSKY (voice-over): Twenty-nine cats.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everywhere you sit, there`s cat poop or dog poop. On the furniture! I`ve seen the cats pee on her stove.
PINSKY: Nine dogs.
ASHLEIGH, YOLANDA`S DAUGHTER: I feel like if it doesn`t get fixed, I mean we have to worry about the animals, we`re going to have to worry about where they`re going to live.
PINSKY: And one family all under one roof.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to get my house back to normal, back to where I don`t have to dread the smell when I open the door.
PINSKY: Yolanda Jones is the head of the household and keeper of the animals. Some might call her a hoarder of pets.
JONES: I could never live without my animals. Literally, can`t live without them.
PINSKY: The situation got so bad that four of Yolanda`s five children had to leave home.
WRANGLER, YOLANDA`S SON: To make things better, the cats need to disappear.
PINSKY: But with the help of Animal Planet, Yolanda worked with a therapist to let go of her precious pets.
JONES: I want my life back. I`m on my [bleep] now. The only way to go is up.
PINSKY: Yolanda Jones joins me tonight. So, Yolanda, have things gotten better since you`ve given up many of your pets?
JONES: Oh, yes. They`ve gotten a lot better. And I probably couldn`t have made my life any better this way.
PINSKY: I understand it got so bad, your kids actually left home.
JONES: Yes. I had two leave home because of them.
PINSKY: Oh, my gosh. You seem a little sad about that. I would imagine it was not an easy time.
JONES: No. And I think looking back I really don`t understand how I didn`t see it and I didn`t wake up to it then. And it took to this point for that to happen.
PINSKY: Well, help people understand it. Again, I want people at home to kind of learn from these things. What was the denial about and what led you to break through that?
JONES: I think the denial itself was just that it wasn`t the animals, it was everybody else. It was - it was their problem, it wasn`t mine. I had it under control when in fact it was my children that had it under control and they were really sick of having it under control.
PINSKY: How did you break through?
JONES: I don`t think - I think it was one day when one of the ladies from Animal Planet, when I was talking to them and they were like, "Well, how are you doing at feeding these animals? How are you doing at maintaining their care? How are you doing at maintaining your home, your life?" And I couldn`t answer any of those positively.
It was basically the same thing as I think I said it before, as being a junkie and not doing my job.
PINSKY: Yes. That`s very true, Yolanda. Well, thank you.
I hope that your relationships with people have gotten richer because that`s what tends to happen when people deal with these things, they find that they can fill themselves with important people rather than things or animals. So I appreciate you sharing your story.
And when we come back, we`ll hear from another compulsive hoarder, one who almost was evicted from her home because she could barely walk through it. Stay with us.
PINSKY: We are talking with Yolanda Jones, a married mother of five, who is a compulsive hoarder of animals. At one point, she and her family had 29 cats and nine dogs. A little later in the program, we`ll be joined by another hoarder who was forced to clean out her home or lose it.
Yolanda, thank you again for being here and sharing your story with us. Now, in some of these therapeutic sessions you had, your mom brought up the fact that you had been molested as a child, which is, of course, very difficult moment, but let`s take a look at a real quick here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A man molested her and nothing ever happened to him. Because we forced her into saying it didn`t happen. Something I`ve lived with for years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk to your mom, Yolanda?
YOLANDA JONES, ANIMAL HOARDER: Just the self-worth as a child was so low.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Now, of course, that trauma had an effect on your motivation to fill a house with animals. Of course, it did. But I don`t want to be Pollyannaish here. I think the television world thinks that, oh my God, you have this great insight. You won`t want to have animals around anymore, much the same as people believe you wouldn`t want to do heroin, you wouldn`t want to drink alcohol if you just had that insight, and that`s ridiculous.
I`m sure you still want to have animals, but I`m also sure that a lot of other motivation and intervention helped you stop doing this. And, of course, the insights are helpful. And also, my understanding is you`re a recovering person. So, did you use any of those 12-step techniques to help you with your animal addiction?
JONES: Not really. I did, but I didn`t. I, more or less, agreed that I was powerless. I, more or less, agreed that I could no longer take control of the animals.
PINSKY: Let me ask you this. Had your program slipped a little bit? I mean, were you drifting away from the program, and the animals just became the latest version of your addictive disease?
JONES: I don`t know that I really ever carried a 12-step program, to be honest. I think, for me, it was more spiritual base, and I did really well at it. I don`t know where I fell, but I fell short somewhere. And that`s probably because I failed the 12s.
PINSKY: Were the animals filling the emptiness and have you found other ways to do that now?
JONES: Yes. I did. I went back to school, and I started spending a little more time with my kids and slowly trying to be the mother that I was supposed to have been from the very beginning.
PINSKY: So, I imagine the compulsion didn`t go away at first. I mean, you must have really -- have been almost forced to do it, and then, it slowly diminished as you filled yourself with more spiritual, more human contact.
JONES: Actually, it`s really hard, even now. I see an injured animal, and I still want to take it home, and I still want to save it, and I can`t, because it`s so emotional.
PINSKY: You know, you might want to look into a little 12-step support, because it`s a hard thing to white knuckle on your own and having other people around and a sponsor really goes a long way to helping with these kinds of compulsions.
Now, Linda Thompson is a different type of hoarder. She stores large quantities of nonessential things in her home, and it was turning her home into a health hazard. A code enforcement officer, eventually, showed up in this home and told her she had to clean it up or lose it. Linda says that the officer saved her home because she reached out to TLC`s "Hoarding Buried Alive" program, and they showed up and they helped her out. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a lot of stuff here.
LINDA, HOARDER: And the stuff that was here isn`t --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where`s the couch?
PINSKY (voice-over): In order to save her house, Linda accepted the help of TLC and opened her home to a therapist who counseled Linda with her hoarding problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): So, Linda, thanks for joining us. You know, I think the average viewer at home wants to know how did this happen? How did you get to this point? How come you didn`t see what was happening?
LINDA: I kind of did see it happening, and unfortunately, there was another member -- I had a significant other who was living in the home who was a bully-type that wanted all. He was a control freak that wanted all the attention himself, and it became sort of a doom and gloom situation there. And, unfortunately, he wanted -- he wouldn`t allow me to clean the house or organize anything.
PINSKY: Did you have any compulsive behaviors before that started up?
LINDA: I think they kind of call it dumpster diving, but you don`t really get in the dumpsters. You kind of go behind the thrift stores.
PINSKY: So, you had a long history of collecting things and hoarding things.
LINDA: I think so. As a child --
PINSKY: Maybe not clutter but collecting.
LINDA: As a child, I was given hand me downs, and that`s because we didn`t have a lot of money. And so, I think it started there. It was like Christmas every time the bags would come open.
PINSKY: I was going to say, was there a rich fantasy life attached to this behavior of dumpster diving?
LINDA: You know, I never looked at it that way, but what the program of hoarding people at buried alive showed me is that there was something, there had to be something, some reason, something I was seeking out that caused me to do that.
PINSKY: Well, sometimes it`s just brain mechanism. Sometimes, obsessive compulsive features of many type just is a biological manifestation of certain genetic brain conditions or environmentally induced brain conditions. Were you ever treated with medication?
PINSKY: No medication. Did anybody ever suggest that?
LINDA: No. I think that what I was doing was seeking something exciting in my life, and possibly, something that made me happy. It was like Christmas every day, you know --
PINSKY: Right. It sounds like there`s a rich fantasy attached to it, that you were constantly around, you know, gifts and presents and Christmas.
LINDA: Gifts from God or the universe that were provided for me. One man`s trash is another man`s treasure, you know?
PINSKY: Can you understand the average person looking at that film might shake their head and go, how`s that possible? How could she live like that?
LINDA: Yes. Even I did.
PINSKY: You did?
LINDA: For myself. I still don`t understand completely the processing it out thing, you know, just throw the box away. Don`t even look in it. You can`t do that as a hoarder. You know, what is in that box, and I want to see all the way to the corner. I want to know what`s in that box. I can`t throw that box away. What if it`s, you know --
PINSKY: It`s really like telling a heroin addict, hey, just don`t do heroin. You can`t. The brain wiring doesn`t allow you to do that. So, how are you dealing now?
LINDA: I`m so sick and tired of this stuff, trying to process it out. It`s burdening me, and it`s become cumbersome. I`m not stuck like I felt before, because now, there`s room to breathe.
PINSKY: Are you going to save your house?
LINDA: I am fighting to save my home --
PINSKY: Have you cleared it out?
LINDA: It`s not completed yet.
PINSKY: Cleared enough that they`ll allow you to keep your home?
LINDA: They`re allowing me to live in my home 24/7 now. And there`s still some storage in the home that needs to be removed. It`s not completed. I`m not financially equipped to make the back payments that are due on my mortgage.
PINSKY: Yolanda, you`re reacting to Linda`s story. Do you want to make a comment?
JONES: Just I understand, it`s the need to hold on to what we have. That`s what we have. Those are the things that give us comfort.
PINSKY: But you understand --
PINSKY: You understand it`s a false -- it`s a surrogate, right?
PINSKY: It`s a shibboleth. It`s an empty way of trying to fill.
JONES: It`s an empty fulfillment.
PINSKY: That`s right. And what I was advocating -- Linda`s case is a little more complicated, but in your case, what I was suggesting is that people that will be the source of fulfillment and the spiritual.
JONES: Right, my husband.
PINSKY: And your kids and a spiritual program, which you lost.
PINSKY: You lost that somewhere.
JONES: Yes. I just don`t even know where I lost that to be honest. I mean, because I was diligent about it. I was diligent. And just somewhere along the way, I just --
PINSKY: Well, I mean this is what this particular program is all about. It`s about motivations and about how to motivate to keep getting well and doing the right thing. And you have to have that motivation every day as opposed to succumbing to more pathological motivation to do something that given your childhood history, Yolanda, and Linda, maybe your biology, it`s understandable, but you just can`t drift back into that.
You can`t let that happen. You have to do something on a regular basis. You have a certain thing that needs -- just like if you need physical therapy for a knee or hip or something, you got to do the same thing for this hoarding behavior.
Yolanda, thank you for joining me. Linda, I appreciate you sharing your story. I think it`s important for the people to hear this.
Now, just a reminder, the season finale of "Hoarding Buried Alive" will air this Sunday at 10:00 p.m. on TLC.
Next, we`re continuing our look at extreme behaviors. We`re going to hear from an athlete who takes the phrase quote, "It`s do or die time," unquote, to a whole new level. We will meet him when we come back.
PINSKY: Welcome back. We`ve been talking about extreme behaviors. And again, just to remind people, we`re looking at extreme behaviors both to understand where they come from, and perhaps, how we can apply some of those insights to our own life. I think tonight has been interesting, so far.
But now, we`re going to take a jump, so to speak, in an entirely different direction and talk about an extreme sport. Now, these athletes, if they make a mistake, can be arrested, severely injured, or even die. Remember what your mom or dad said, if your friend jumped off a bridge, you`d follow them? Well, my next guest would do precisely that happily. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILES DAISHER, REDBULL AIRFORCE BASE JUMPER: See you. Woo!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have Miles Daisher at the RedBull Airforce. We just came out and jumped the Seoul tower here. Beautiful Seoul, Korea. It`s a little bit cloudy today, but still, it`s a beautiful place to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: These jumpers leap from stationary structures and free fall for as long as they can. Kind of freaks me out even to see that footage before releasing their parachute, but why would anyone in their right mind want to jump off a building? Is it the risk, the thrill, the challenge?
Here to answer some of those questions is RedBull Airforce base jumper, Miles Daisher. Miles, what, why, huh? Help me understand. How old are you?
DAISHER: Yes. Forty-two years young.
PINSKY: Forty-two years old. Now, it`s funny thing occurred to me as we were preparing to do this segment. You know, when you`re an adolescent, the frontal part of your brain doesn`t work. You haven`t had a head injury, I mean, bad head injury?
DAISHER: Not that I know of.
PINSKY: Right. The frontal part of the brain doesn`t work, and so you become dependent upon the amygdala (ph), a part of the brain that just responds to arousal. It`s why teenagers get so into arousal because that`s the only part that`s really driving them. The frontal part that goes, hey, don`t do that kicked in until they`re about 21 or 22. Yours I don`t think turned on.
DAISHER: Yes. I`m like -- I`m trying to like live forever and be like a child forever, because my playtime is the best time, and so, basically, I chose a really nice hobby that I love to do and kind of made it a profession, you know?
PINSKY: Has it been your profession your whole life?
DAISHER: No. No. I`ve had plenty of professions. See, I`ve done all kinds of things. I graduated with a degree in Physical Education, and that`s what I was supposed to go do is teach PE, and kind of turned into a ski bum for awhile, and then transformed into a sky dive bum, and then, I`ve done all kinds of various things from landscape construction, and trucking, all kinds of fun jobs. This is the best.
PINSKY: I can see your eyes light up. And so, one of the things we want to understand today looking at these behaviors is, what`s different about you? I look at that, and I think, oh, that`s something I find very, very, very unpleasant even watching, and you find it completely turning on. It turns you on.
DAISHER: Definitely. Oh, yes.
PINSKY: What`s different about you? Why do you think you go that direction, I go the other, besides the fact that I`m boring and a square?
DAISHER: Yes. Well, no, I mean, a lot of my friends and I all have kind of an ADD, little bit kind of built into ourselves, and you know, if we`re not doing fun cool rad things that are kind of pushing, not say pushing limits, but yes, maybe pushing limits. We need to see what`s possible. And like, OK, let`s go see if we can do that.
PINSKY: Right. That`s very interesting. I think you`re absolutely right. ADD does cause or is associated with these kinds of behaviors. Again, little take home message for everybody. Your kids that are jumping off the furniture and stuff, those are the ADD kids, also associated with addiction and alcoholism. Is that gene in your family background somewhere?
DAISHER: A little bit. And then, some on my grandparents and cousins, you know, I (ph) used to make some bathtub gin back in the day and that kind of thing.
PINSKY: And this now has become your addiction, in a way, in a way. Do you get high doing these things? We`re watching another piece of footage of you doing something crazy. Oh, out of an airplane, awesome.
DAISHER: Oh, yes. Yes. No, I mean, it took really good feeling.
PINSKY: See, I don`t get high.
DAISHER: You take these kidneys, these things back here that like sit there all the time and you give them a good squeeze. And you feel that juice going through your body.
PINSKY: No. That sounds --
DAISHER: Right there, we were jumping off a cliff in Norway.
PINSKY: This is something different. You have the flying squirrel out there.
DAISHER: Yes. You know, you want to see what`s possible, and you jump a kayak out of an airplane, and flying squirrels are like, this is the most fun you could possibly have is go, jump a wing suit and fly your body.
PINSKY: So, Miles, so you said when you feel those adrenal glands actually squeeze, adrenaline into your system, which I think those of you listening at home recall as something extremely unpleasant. Your heart rate goes up, you flush, you feel horrible, you`re scared. It`s something to make you aversive to the condition that you may be facing. You know, run from the lion is what that designed to do, but you go towards it.
DAISHER: Like a roller coaster, because it feels good, like, woh, ha, that`s wild! You know, roller coasters are fun and they`re scary, and that`s kind of the way, I think --
PINSKY: A little bit of it is fun, but I wouldn`t spend every day at six flags. I just think I`d spend a little bit of timing. Now, the base and base jumping is an acronym. It stands for four locations of skydiver must be found before he can call himself a base jumper. It`s building, antenna, span, in other words a like bridge, and --
DAISHER: Earth like a rock, a big cliff.
PINSKY: OK. All right. Cliff, something like that.
DAISHER: Earth is the best.
PINSKY: You were quoted to saying "if I`m not going a million miles an hour, I`m asleep, dreaming about the next cool moment."
DAISHER: Yes. I spend a lot of time thinking about what we`re going to do. I mean, we`re not just a bunch of crazy nuts. I mean, some of us are, but honestly, you put a lot of time and energy into planning what you`re doing. There`s so much preparation. It`s about 98 preparation.
PINSKY: Let`s turn this a little bit serious for a second. You have how many kids?
DAISHER: I have three children.
PINSKY: Don`t you worry that something is going to happen to you?
DAISHER: It`s kind of in the back of my mind. You know, I`ve got a will and that kind of thing to help them out, but my plan is to not die in this sport but not to get hurt in this sport.
PINSKY: Let me just take notes here. Your plan is not to die, not to die. OK. Got that.
DAISHER: You know, when you`re operating machinery, avoid serious injury and avoid death.
PINSKY: Some of your friends have died, and base jumping is one of the world`s most dangerous recreational, so to speak, activities. Overall fatalities in 2002 estimated about one per 60 participants. About 174 have died base jumping since 1981.
DAISHER: Since 1981. Come on.
PINSKY: I like you, Miles. I don`t --
DAISHER: Not that bad, you know? And I`ve seen some people out there doing -- taking some super unnecessary risks, and you know, some of the things I do, I do push a little bit.
PINSKY: Talking about what I heard about. I just hearing about nearly flipped my cookie. You do some sort of bungee jump. Would you go up one - - the other side of the bridge and then jump down?
DAISHER: Rope swing base jumping.
PINSKY: Rope swing base jumping.
DAISHER: Water-ski rope handle, you know, on about a 60-foot rope. And you go swinging off of a bridge and go flinging out into the air. It`s like so much fun. And if you fall off the rope, all you do is open your parachute. And there`s different ways to fall, you can fling out is just another way to get creative with it. Maybe kind of an artist style, maybe.
PINSKY: I`m so happy, Miles that you are happy. I`m happy for you. And I`m happy that you found a productive way to make living from it and feel good about and stuff, but man, I don`t want to see anything happen to you.
DAISHER: Yes. Well, a friend of mine, when I was working landscape construction and build houses and I`m playing softball and baseball and soccer, he told me, do you love your job, you know? And I was like, well, I really like it a lot, but love is a strong word, you know? He said, well, you got to quit doing that and do what you love.
And that was Frank Gambalie. Now, he taught me how to skydive and base jump, and I was just learning how to skydive from him. I really wasn`t into base jumping then because it scared me. You know, my scariest moment.
PINSKY: Slow down again. Let me see. Scared jumping off a giant bridge. OK.
DAISHER: Yes. No, it`s for real. I mean --
PINSKY: No kidding!
PINSKY: Actually, when we come back, we`re going to talk about what next from Miles. Is there a platform that he won`t jump off of? Find that out and what his next stunt is going to be when we get back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hell yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Miles!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: We`re with Miles Daisher, one of the RedBull Airforce team members. These guys are wild. They kayak out of airplanes, base jump off 30-story casinos, worn wing suits that allow them to reach speeds in nearly 340 miles an hour. Now, Miles and the RedBull guys are excited about the soon-to-be released film -- feature film, "Human Flight 3D."
Miles, let`s do it. What is the next big stunt? I promote that before the break. You tell me. Freak me out with it.
DAISHER: Wing suiting, you know, it`s kind of the way the future. I don`t know about that fact, about the 300 miles an hour, but I`ve done 150 forward, and that`s safe to say there. I`m looking to make a human archery target and fly through it to show how well you can navigate your body and fly just through body with a wing suit.
PINSKY: Is the archery target going to be a few feet off the ground or is it going to be --
DAISHER: To put it about 40 feet off the ground. I mean, I can come close to a cliff and do like five feet, you know, pretty consistently. I`m a no- wind basis --
DAISHER: We`re going to put it into see. Well, you always want to have a (INAUDIBLE) attack, and you know --
DAISHER: My dad was a pilot. And he kind of talked me always to have it out, and when you`re buzzing anything proximity wise or you`re flying next to it, you wouldn`t have ton of speech. You have enough to escape and get away. You always have a way out. Never pain yourself into a corner.
PINSKY: But someday, you might lose that, that out might close -- might, there`ll be people out there that say this guy is a father of three, right?
PINSKY: And isn`t he being selfish living his dream? We get that.
PINSKY: But maybe at the expense of your kids losing their father.
DAISHER: Yes. Well, I don`t want my kids lose their father. You know, it`s one of my plans in life to be old --
PINSKY: What would you say to somebody who has that criticism?
DAISHER: Well, don`t be afraid to live, you know? If you`re afraid of dying and you don`t live, then truly live (ph), you know? I`m like -- I`m living the dream, and I`m doing it as safe as I can. My goal is to be 80 years old, sit in a rocking chair, telling stories that no one will believe until I show them these old DVDs --
PINSKY: I just hope you got at 79, you`re not putting on your flying squirrel outfit and doing something crazy.
PINSKY: Because it might still be happening.
PINSKY: You know, it`s an interesting story. I mean, we can see both sides of it, but I just worry --
PINSKY: I got anxiety disorder.
DAISHER: Don`t worry I got this.
PINSKY: I don`t want to have ADD.
PINSKY: All right. Although, I`ve been acute (ph) by my producer of doing my base jumping here. This is all my base jumping --
DAISHER: Seriously? You know, everybody`s got there own base jump going on,
PINSKY: All right. Before we go, a few thoughts about extremes and going to extremes. We`ve been talking about extremes today. And something we don`t really focus on in our culture, particularly, is motivation. What motivates us?
You know, what we are responding to it is our motivational states that create often our thoughts and our thoughts may justify our motivations, and sometimes, our motivations aren`t to do good things, I mean, get us into trouble. Talk to a lot about that today.
But I`ll tell you what, you always know -- you always hear in the back of your mind somewhere a little voice that if you can listen to will not stir you wrong. It`s different than motivation. It`s that little voice that says, this may not be right thing for you, maybe not the right job, maybe not the right buildings to jump off of, maybe not the right guy to be in a relationship with.
You need to learn to listen to those instincts that are very difficult to hear when we are overcome by these motivational states that in our culture we put great value. You want to go E to have an extreme activities and make lots of money or whatever it is. We certainly like to gratify motivation as supposed to listen to our instincts.
And by the way, living with integrity turns up the volume on the instincts. Think about it. We`ll see you next time.