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Hoarding in a Category of Its Own; Frankie Muniz Recovering from "Mini Stroke"; The Blue Zones

Aired December 8, 2012 - 16:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Hey, there. Thanks for being with us.

Actor Frankie Muniz is here. He's just had a mini-stroke. He's only 27 years old.

And new advice from the man who defined the notion of "Blue Zones". These are places where they found the secrets of a long, healthy life.

But, first, consider this, hoarding as a mental illness -- under the microscope.

You know, the medical world is buzzing about the new diagnosis and the statistical manual of mental disorders, DSM, the first overhaul now in nearly 20 years. The so-called "bible" of mental illness, it defines what is and what isn't a mental illness.

I can't underscore enough what a big deal this could be. They've just ratify for example, many issues, many revisions based on the latest research.

So, today, I want to give you example of something that you may have never thought about, or ever heard of -- hoarding. It now has a category of its own.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If my mother is unable to clean up the house, I don't know what will happen. We are doing this as a last ditch effort. She's hit rock bottom.


GUPTA: Gail Steketee is the dean and a professor at the Boston School of Social Work. She's written extensively on hoarding.

Thanks much for joining us, Professor. Appreciate it.


GUPTA: You know, we all collect stuff. It is the first thing I sort of thought of when I was reading about this. What constitutes diagnosable compulsive hoarding?

STEKETEE: One of the hallmarks is difficulty discarding. Another mark is the clutter that results from that when people try to deal with a disorganized pile of things they have accumulated. And, of course, that has to cause impairment or distress, in order to qualify for a hoarding disorder.

GUPTA: So when you talk about the difference between a hoarder, a collector, someone who's, you know, just disorganized, which a lot of people are raising their hands at home -- it has to do with impairment that it causes in the person's life?

STEKETEE: Absolutely, somebody who collects things is trying to collect an interesting array that represents a category of objects. So they take a lot of care to pick out one or two things that is specific to filling the gaps in their collection. But it doesn't cause them impairment or distress, and, in fact, they enjoy it. And they talk about it with other people and it's a valuable set of objects.

But hoarding is very different.

GUPTA: The big news here seems to be that hoarding no longer seems to be a part of OCD, which is interesting. In fact, your co-author, Randy Frost, he said that some aspects of hoarding don't fit the typical OCD pattern. My understanding is this is a real change. He describes it more as people going into a dissociative state, where they simply forget that they don't have enough money, they don't have enough space to obtain the things that they're obtaining.

STEKETEE: That's true. People who have a hoarding problem collect, and when they collect, they get very excited about what they're doing. It, kind of, looks like a high. It is something that we don't see in an obsessive, compulsive problem.

GUPTA: And something else that I think people will find surprising to note. Forcibly cleaning a hoarder's home is the worst thing you can do, they say.

Why is that?

STEKETEE: It's because -- well, imagine if somebody came into your home and took away all the stuff without you having any say about it -- of course, you'd be very upset.

People who hoard are very attached to their objects. And from their point of view, these are valuable things, or at least things that they want the possibility of going through before they let go of them. So it's very upsetting to someone.

GUPTA: So how does somebody get help? Either from a friend or family, what are they to do in a situation like this?

STEKETEE: The best thing they can do is learn something about hoarding, which I recommend going on the Web site,, and taking a good look at the hoarding section, because it's important to understand why people save what they save. And what it means to them. And then after that, they can try to be of assistance in terms of finding help for the person. GUPTA: It's amazing, you know, again, just this update in looking at the way we look at mental illness, it's fascinating. We wanted to give this example of it. Thanks so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

STEKETEE: You're welcome.

GUPTA: Coming up, he just had a stroke. He's in his mid-twenties. Actor Frankie Muniz is here to tell me what happened.



FRANKIE MUNIZ, ACTOR: You know, the other day at the store, when I pretended not to know you.


MUNIZ: Well, there is this girl.


MUNIZ: I'm sorry.



GUPTA: You know, it seems as if we've seen Frankie Muniz grow up before our eyes, as Malcolm on "Malcolm in the Middle". You may also know he's now the drummer for the band Kingsfoil.

But this week, we got something unexpected from him. He tweeted about a major health scare. He wrote this, "I was in the hospital last Friday. I suffered a mini-stroke, which is not fun at all. I have to start taking care of my body, getting old."

Here's the thing -- Frankie is only 26. And just this week, he turned 27. And he joins me now via Skype from his home in Arizona.

Frankie, thanks so much for joining us. First things first, happy birthday to you. I know you just turned 27. How are you --

MUNIZ: Thank you very much.

GUPTA: You're welcome.

How are you feeling?

MUNIZ: I feel pretty good. I mean, I -- I don't know how to explain it other than I have forced myself to calm down, to relax. It's not in me to do that. My entire life, I have been kind of non-stop, running around like a crazy person, doing this, doing that, worrying about that. So, this week I have been really just trying to relax. And I'm still a fair bit lethargic since the whole incident happened. But I'm happy that I'm all right, and --

GUPTA: Yes, a lot of people are certainly happy that you're doing OK.

Now, you may know, Frankie, this is -- this is -- it happened it's my area of expertise. I'm a neurosurgeon. And just -- I had a couple of things. I think this is very instructive and hopefully important for our viewers to hear.

You were told that you suffered a mini-stroke by your doctor, also known as the transient ischemic attack. And that means the blood temporarily stops going to the brain. And people will experience stroke-like symptoms for no more than 24 hours.

Can you tell me specifically what happened to you?

MUNIZ: I worked out last Friday morning, felt fine, felt normal, felt great. Decided to go on a motorcycle ride. Got on my bike, maybe a mile from my house, and started to realize my vision in my right eye was kind of bothering me. Like I thought there was something on the visor at first. So, I kept wiping it and lifted up my visor and realized there was something in my eyes.

By the time I got further I kind of lost all peripheral vision, and like started feeling like I was losing my balance, and just started feeling really, really uncomfortable, and couldn't you know, pinpoint why. You know, I had never felt that before. I never had an experience like that. So I didn't know what I was going through.

GUPTA: You know, a lot of people are going to wonder, you know, there's obviously risk factors, such as hypertension, high cholesterol. But even with that, you're so young.

Why do the doctors think you had this?

MUNIZ: Well, we're still -- I'm still going through the process and more tests, and trying to figure it out. You know, from the emergency room they diagnosed me with a TIA, mini-stroke, and recommended a few neurosurgeons for me to go see, which I'm doing. And, you know, I'm still trying to figure it out because, you know, all the things where the people are usually at higher risk for having the TIA, like I don't really fit in those categories --

GUPTA: Right.

MUNIZ: -- you know, as far as age -- I mean, I am considered very healthy. I never drank in my life. I've never smoked cigarettes. I've never been near a drug. You know what I mean?

So, like -- and I take a lot of pride in that. I, you know -- so, you know, all of those things, I'm 125 pounds. I run three miles a day. I lift weights.

You know, I do everything I can to live a life -- a healthy life- style. But, you know, it definitely is a wake-up call. Like you know -- when you're young, I mean, when it's you, you feel like you are invincible, almost, you know what I mean? You don't think that anything that, you know, you hear about all of these things that people can have and things that happen. I mean, even car accidents, when it is yourself -- I mean me, I feel invincible, you know?

But now, it makes me go, oh wait. You know, this is my body. I need to take care of it. I need to do whatever I can to stay healthy. I want to live to be a very, you know, old man.

And you know, hopefully -- hopefully, this is not a sign of things to come. You know, and hopefully I can -- you know, get on top of it now and whatever -- find out what it is, and I won't have it again.

GUPTA: Yes, and we all hope that. But I think what you're saying again is very important. People sometimes need a little brush with a health problem of some sort. And nobody wishes that on anybody, but to the extent that people are hearing your story now, and it makes them do a better job of checking themselves out. I think it's really important.

Frankie, I'm a big fan, I'm so glad to meet you over the satellite here, and I'm really glad you're doing well.

MUNIZ: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

GUPTA: Now, BYU men's basketball coach Dave Rose, he's been involved with this group called Coaches Versus Cancer. He's been doing this for many years. Well, this year, he decided to take his team to the annual tournament after fighting his own cancer battle, and he now counts himself a survivor.


GUPTA (voice-over): This year, for the first time, Dave Rose got to take his BYU basketball team to the Coaches Versus Cancer Classic Tournament. What made it all the more poignant to him is the battle that he fought with pancreatic cancer that started three years ago.

DAVE ROSE, BYU COACH: If we can do something to try to help raise awareness, help find a cure, it's personal to me. I understand how these people feel.

GUPTA: His symptoms came on suddenly on an airplane, in fact, returning from a family vacation.

ROSE: I got really sick to where I was lightheaded and I couldn't even actually sit up, so they laid me down and moved some of the passengers and they brought oxygen and cleared the plane and then brought the medics on and kind of carted me off the plane and took me to the hospital. I had 10 units of blood transfused and they found the mass and they went in and removed it and told me I had cancer.

GUPTA: Doctors removed the tumor from Rose's pancreas along with his spleen. They also removed the blood clot that developed after surgery.

He was back on the court just two months after surgery. He continued to take his team to the NCAA tournament. He led the Cougars to their first appearance in the Sweet 16 in 30 years.

ROSE: I feel like I have been given a second chance. There was a real possibility that my time here was going to be numbered. And now I feel like everything I get to do is really just a blessing for me.

Go! Go!


GUPTA: And I'll tell you, it is that message of appreciation for life that Rose is looking now to drive home to his own players and to his own family every day.

And coming up, we have a man who discovered these healthy hot spots. He calls them "Blue Zones" -- they are places where people live the longest. He decided to stop by and show the formula with all of us.


GUPTA: Everywhere you turn these days, there are articles, there are books that are promising various products, supplements perhaps to extend life. But as my next guest is going to explain, it's actually could be much easier than that.

Dan Buettner, he's our friend. He's been here before. He is the author of "The Blue Zones: Nine Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who Live the Longest."


GUPTA (voice-over): Dan Buettner has spent the last decade traveling the globe, to find longevity hot spots that he calls "Blue Zones", Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. These are all places where people are not only living longer than most Americans, but their quality of life and overall health is remarkably better as well.

Here is his latest Blue Zone discovery, Icaria, Greece. Compared to Americans, people here are three times more likely to reach their nineties, and older people have a half the rate of heart disease, and third less cancer than we do. Their minds stay sharp, as well. Compared to the United States, Icaria has one quarter the rate of dementia.

Buettner says these different "Blue Zone" hot spots have a lot in common. He wants to capture the formula so you and I can live longer.


GUPTA: You know it captures the imagination, Dan, for sure. Welcome back to the show.

DAN BUETTNER, AUTHOR, "THE BLUE ZONES": A delight to be here.

GUPTA: People always ask about this, they want to know what other people in other parts of the world know, let me start with the question: how much is genes and how much is lifestyle?

BUETTNER: Twenty percent of how long the average person lives is dictated by genes. The other 80 percent is lifestyle and environment, which I think is really the important part.

GUPTA: The thing that people always point to, especially here in the United States is stress. And it's a vague term. It means different things to different people.

Is -- stress here in the United States, obviously, we know what it's like. What is it like in other places? Is there less stress did you find, for example, in Icaria?

BUETTNER: Yes. So, you tell people you found this Blue Zone in the middle of the Mediterranean or the Aegean, and people say, yes, if I live in a place like that, I wouldn't have stress. But the reality is they worry about their kids, they worry about finances, they worry about their health.

But what they have that we don't have are daily rituals to shed that stress. In some Blue Zones, it's simply prayer. Others, it's ancestral veneration like these Okinawans. Others, it's happy hour.

In Icaria, it was taking a nap. We know that nap takers, people take a nap at least five days a week have a third less heart disease than people who don't take a nap. So, it's just 15 minutes a day to unwind information and the anxiety of every day life.

GUPTA: I would love to be able to do that.

It is hard, but, you know, there are some things that you mentioned, as well, in the book which I found fascinating. This idea in investing in your friends, what did you mean by that?

BUETTNER: Yes. So, there are two important aspects. We know the happiest people in America are interacting face to face, about six hours a day. So we evolved to be interactive creatures. But also, you hang out with has a huge impact on your healthy (INAUDIBLE). Your health behaviors are as infectious as catching a cold or catching a flu.

So you look at these Blue Zones, they didn't have -- they weren't on diets. The people weren't in exercise programs, but they either proactively, or they were born into a group of people who supported the right habits.

GUPTA: Is it -- I mean, do people take care of each other more so and encourage each other to eat better or go to the doctor? What is it about that interaction that is so preventive or helpful?

BUETTNER: So we live in a culture that doesn't promise friends. If you meet the technical definition of loneliness in America, in other words, you have fewer than one friend who cares about you on a bad day, your live expectancy drops eight years. Loneliness can be as bad for you as a smoking habit.

Yet you go to places like Okinawa, and people are in lifelong social networks called malays (ph), where they commit to each other. And if things go well for them, they share the wealth. If things go poorly, they always know they have somebody who has their back.

I actually sat with one of these malays, five 102-year-old women who still get together everyday, drink sake, talk about the village and argue about who that hot guy like best back in 1940.


GUPTA: They argue like the old friends that they are.


GUPTA: But the point is, they have that friendship.

BUETTNER: It's not only if they get sick, there'll be someone who watch for them, but psychologically, they know that somebody has their back. And that's really important.

GUPTA: You know, we live in the siloed off sort of world now in the United States. You have the family units. But I think you're absolutely right. It's not as communal, you know, I think maybe it was in times past here.

BUETTNER: Yes. So, 15 years ago, the average American had three good friends. We're now down to about 1.5 friends per person. So, we're imploding into our houses, we're watching over four hours of TV a day and not enough good TV like this right here.

GUPTA: Right.

BUETTNER: But this should be a uniform prescription that doctors ought to be giving patients, to socially interact. We know that volunteers have lower rates of heart disease. They have lower BMI, even lower health care costs.

GUPTA: I love these. And, you know, everybody at home right now is counting their friends, who are those -- who are those one and a half friends possibly.

Well, it's always -- it's a joy to have you on the show. I think you make everybody a little bit happier as well. And maybe that will do something for health.

Great to have you.

BUETTNER: All right. Good to see you, Sanjya.

GUPTA: And a check of your top stories just minutes away. But next, something that we might be able to learn from that recent tragedy with an NFL player in Kansas City. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: You know, just a few years ago, Jovan Belcher was an undrafted free agent from the fringes of college football. Not only did he make the Kansas City Chiefs roster, but he also made his mark. I mean, he played every game since 2009, became starting linebacker. He won over teammates and fans along the way.

And then, as you probably know, last Saturday, there was a shocking turn of events. The 25-year-old allegedly killed his girlfriend and drove to the Chiefs practice facility and he took his own life. That left the teammates and coaches and, frankly, a lot of people wondering why, what happened?

There were many reports that the couple the fought, some people speculated about a link to head trauma. Truth is that we may never know for sure why Belcher did this. But I wanted you to hear something else. I wanted you to hear what Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn had to say.


BRADY QUINN, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QUARTERBACK: You know, if I know what would happen, I was sitting my head thinking what could I have done different. You know, when you ask someone how they're doing, do you really mean it? When you ask someone back, how are you doing, are you telling them the truth?

You know, we live in a society of social networks and Twitter pages and Facebook. And that's fine and stuff, we have contact with our work associates, our family and friends. And it seems like we're more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships we have in front of us.


GUPTA: You know, that really struck me. I think he is right. Quinn is right. I mean, put down that phone. Put down the tablet. Maybe step away from your computer.

Because the point is, you should really spend some time with the people around you. Ask those that you care about, how they're doing, and listen, really listen, to really hear their answer. I think that can help all of us chase life to a hundred.

That's going to wrap things up for us today. Time now, though, to get you a check of your top stories in "THE CNN NEWSROOM".