Friday, June 22, 2012


I watch "The Dr. Phil Show" when I do my daily barre exercises earlier than usual.

Usually I tune in "Judge Judy." I like her tough-minded impatience with sloppy-thinking plaintiffs and defendants. But Dr. Phil's fatherly focus, his way of getting to the heart of a guest's problems is always interesting.

Dr. Phil McGraw is a PhD psychologist who's on television every day. The Internet has links that take you to his website, each of his shows, his foundation, to the books he's published, and biographical information about his career and his personal life. I like the way he ends his show, exiting arm-in-arm with his wife Robin, (they've been married for 33 years). "She's the only woman who can tell me what to do, " Dr. Phil says.

He's 62. He earns about $80 million a year. This year is his 10th season on television, doing therapy sessions with people who have life-threatening problems with relationships, addictions, or eating disorders. Lately he's been dealing with teenagers who are destroying themselves, and parents who are hopelessly unable to help their kids.

Dr. Phil was discovered in the late 90s by Oprah Winfrey, who has a marvelous instinct for recognizing sympathetic, strong personalities such as Rachel Ray, Nat Berkus, and Dr. Oz. (Rachel and Nat's topics don't interest me, and I don't like Dr. Oz -- I think the way he demonstrates exercises shows a lack of knowledge.)

Anyhow, Dr. Phil, questioning his guest (the patient), listens carefully and doesn't beat around the bush, or mince words -- he tells the patent in no uncertain terms, where his or her behavior is heading.

Often, Phil offers a seriously addicted patient who's "killing himself," a way to save his life. Bringing in other doctors and rehabilitation specialists, Phil offers to pay for high-level, professional therapy, and guarantees that he'll be monitoring the patient's progress -- proving this by bringing back patients who have been able to turn their lives around.

I was shocked to see Dr. Phil. on the cover of Newsweek, and read the magazine's cover story that attacked him for selling diet books that he wrote.

Dr. Phil McGraw's "17 Day Diet" that helps you lose 10 to 15 pounds in 17 days, and his weight-loss program for women titled, "P.I.N.K," are published by Phil's 32-year- old son, Jay. These $27 dollar hardcover books can only be purchased on the Internet. Both books have spin-off products -- workout videos, Spanish and audio editions, and cookbooks.

pointed out that "The Dr. Phil Show" and its daily "sister" program, "The Doctors," produced by Phil's son Jay, are constantly promoting these books -- The "17 Day Diet" was mentioned 27 times in one show. The article strongly suggested that Dr. Phil was not to be trusted -- basically, because he's s psychologist, not a diet doctor.

Whoa -- what's real? Phil often says "Get real," and tells guests they must take responsibility for their actions. But has Dr. Phil, who says he doesn't make a cent from promoting his books, taken responsibility for heavily promoting books that benefit his son? Is Phil doing something illegal? The magazine article quotes legal opinions that say yes, and others that say no.

Actually, I don't trust Newsweek or Time Magazine. I think the managing editors of both these magazines often promote hot "new" news -- not because it's important, but because it sells magazines.

What do I think about Dr. Phil selling diet books when he isn't a dietician?

Based on what I've read about Phil's two diet books, I figure he's selling what he learned about dieting when he, himself, was trying to lose weight. However, I personally wouldn't take advice from Phil or Judge Judy, or ANYONE, on diet and vitamins, or medications, or exercise -- or politics, or life-style, or philosophy, or any of those important things -- not without studying and learning all I could about the subject.

Okay, that's me! But based on the Dr. Phil episodes that I've seen, I think his thoughts on any subject are worth listening to.

Judge for yourself. Here are promos for two recent Dr. Phil shows that I watched. I liked the way Dr. Phil handled the couple, the teenager, and the woman who was fixated on getting bigger breast implants for her surgery enhanced, size 46 bosoms.

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