Dr. Phil McGraw gained notoriety in the late 90s, when he appeared on several episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show as an expert in psychology and behaviour. His fame escalated in 2002, when his own show, Dr. Phil, produced by Oprah herself, debuted on CBS. The show has been running for 16 seasons, and Dr. Phil has amassed a net worth that is hitting the $100 million mark.
Despite his level of exposure and high ratings, Dr. Phil’s reputation is not squeaky clean. He has sparked up controversy for promoting weight-loss products that were deemed unsafe, and his psychological expertise and advice is questionable. The show has morphed into an entertainment-based program, with guests competing to be as wild and shocking as possible. We all know that past guests have enjoyed their own rise to fame by acting out on Dr. Phil (it hasn’t been that long since the “Cash Me Ousside” girl’s first appearance!). He was also the center of a lawsuit in 2006, when he misrepresented details regarding the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Some would say that Dr. Phil has no moral limitations where ratings are concerned.
Love him or hate him, Dr. Phil is definitely a notable figure in today’s television and entertainment world. He’s managed to build an empire with the success of his television show and other professional ventures. But, we’re not convinced he’s just an all-around nice guy. Here are 15 Secrets Proving Dr.Phil Isn’t That Innocent.
15. He Promoted Unsafe Products
Back in 2003, when Dr.Phil was not yet a household name, he was actively pushing weight-loss products that were later deemed unsafe for use. The gimmicky products promoted on his show included shakes, bars, and protein supplements. When the FDA began investigating the safety of his products, Dr. Phil took them off the market. Seems pretty suspicious! He received huge backlash and criticism; people didn’t think that a self-proclaimed doctor should be promoting such products. He would definitely learn an expensive lesson in 2005, when unsatisfied customers filed a class action lawsuit against him for charging $120 a month for vitamins that did not promote weight loss. He settled the lawsuit the following year for a cool $10.5 million.
14. He Exploited Britney Spears’ Mental State
Dr. Phil has often been criticized for his tendencies to release private and confidential information to the media in the pursuit of ratings and publicity. In 2008, he visited Britney Spears after her very public meltdown and mental breakdown. Although he presented himself as being there to offer support and help to Britney and her family, many people suggested that he was out to exploit Britney. Several people submitted complaints about his unprofessional behaviour, and the Board of Psychology (BOP) was put on alert. Although Dr. Phil defended his position, many people were convinced that he had malicious intentions and wasn’t looking out for Brit’s wellbeing.
13. Involvement In The Polk County Beating
In 2008, a 16-year old girl was savagely beaten by a group of classmates. Her abuse was filmed and streamed on YouTube, causing public outrage and making the story a national headline. Dr. Phil didn’t hesitate to get involved; a one-hour special devoted to the case, including interviews with several of the perpetrators, was scheduled to be filmed in Orlando, Florida. Plans came to a halt when it was uncovered that one of the producers of the show had secured a $30,000 bail for the ringleader of the group, securing her release so that she could be interviewed for the special. Clearly, the show, once again, engaged in inappropriate behaviour, and the special was cancelled due to public criticism of the producer’s behaviour.
12. Thomas Riccio Lawsuit
Thomas Riccio is best known for his connection to O.J Simpson. He was the sports memorabilia dealer who famously set up an appointment at a Las Vegas hotel, which would result in O.J Simpson’s arrest and conviction of armed robbery. In 2008, he gave an interview with the good people at the Dr. Phil studio. Riccio later claimed that the interview was edited in a way that made him look bad, and subsequently filed a lawsuit against Dr. Phil. The charges were dismissed by the judge, who explained that the editors and all involved with the Dr. Phil show were protected by the first amendment. In 2009, the two sides reached an agreement.
11. The Natalee Holloway Controversy
In 2005, American teenager Natalee Holloway mysteriously disappeared while on a school trip to Aruba. The story became international news, and the search was on for clues to her disappearance. Dr. Phil aired several segments about this particular case, including live interviews with Natalee’s parents. In 2006, brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe filed a lawsuit against Dr. Phil in regards to an interview they did for the show. The brothers claimed that the footage was manipulated to make them look guilty of engaging in criminal activity. A civil trial was scheduled, but the case was dismissed a week before the trial was scheduled to start. In 2013, a judge ruled in favour of Dr. Phil and the case was officially closed.
10. His Wife Robin Denies That She’s Gone Under The Knife
One area of controversy that seems to continuously come up is whether or not Phil McGraw’s wife, Robin, has had cosmetic procedures. They have both denied that Robin has had any work done, even though her appearance would point to other conclusions. The 64-year-old claimed that her youthful appearance is due to her healthy diet and the use of natural treatments and cosmetics. Although this sounds lovely, it doesn’t really explain her plumped-up lips and raised eyebrows. Several facelifts, coupled with cheek and lip fillers are more likely. At this point, she has crossed the line where too many procedures have left her looking overcooked and unnatural.
9. His Doctor On Demand App Is Another Money Grab Scam
Nowadays, everything can be found online. Convenience is the name of the game, so many people appreciate the freedom that shopping online gives them. But, what about when it comes to doctor visits? Dr. Phil launched a business venture in 2013, called Doctor on Demand. The internet and phone app allows people to video chat with real physicians instead of going to a doctor’s office. Some would think this is practical for situations where visiting the doctor is not possible, but many critics have pointed out that it is negligent to suggest that doctor visits can be skipped when problems arise. The $40 visit fee, plus other applicable registration fees, have also been scrutinized as a money-grabbing scam.
8. He Insulted The Mentally Ill
Dr. Phil has been known to put his foot in his mouth on many different occasions, and often during live tapings of his show. In 2013, he made a comment about mentally ill people, stating that insane people “suck on rocks and bark at the moon.” Now, we get it. He wants to be likeable and silly. He wants to be able to throw in a joke or two during his show to get a chuckle from the audience. However, as a professional in the medical industry — not to mention that psychology is his forte — he should really be more sensitive. He often describes his guests using strong and insulting words like “crazy psycho” or “out of control animal.” Not the best example to set, Dr. Phil!
7. His Ex-Wife Has Painted Him As A Chauvinist
Dr. Phil might have you believe that the only woman in his life is Robin (we get it, Phil!) but the truth is, he was married before. Back in 1970, 19-year-old Phil married his first wife, Debbie Higgins. The high-school sweethearts were only married for four years before they decided to split, and Debbie has referred to herself as “the secret first wife of Dr. Phil.” Although Debbie didn’t have too many complaints about her relationship with Phil, she did make one statement that made Phil sound like a grade-A d-bag. Apparently, he wanted his wife to stay home and take care of the womanly chores and tasks, and also stressed that he wanted her to look nice at all times, and do extra “chest exercises” to keep her bust line firm. Sigh.
6. He’s Published Some Pretty Controversial Tweets
Dr. Phil definitely sparks up controversy on the regular. Another notch in his inappropriate belt came in 2013, when he tweeted a very controversial question about rape. He was immediately bombarded with angry responses from celebrities, politicians, and the general public. He removed the tweet, but not before plenty of people have read it. Reps for the Dr. Phil show insisted that the tweet was just meant to promote discussion. According to their defense, a show dealing with the topic of teens accused of sexual assault was soon to be aired. Even if Dr. Phil didn’t intend to come across as an insensitive sexist, he sure fooled his followers.
5. He’s Not A Real Doctor
Perhaps one of the biggest hoaxes in the Dr. Phil franchise is the fact that Phil McGraw is not a real doctor. Yes, he holds a doctoral degree in psychology, but he is not licensed in the United States to practise as a psychologist or mental health practitioner. There is a big difference between someone who has studied psychology and someone who has studied to become a psychologist. You can have a vast knowledge of the social sciences, but not have the practical skills to adapt your knowledge to real-life scenarios without further training. This definitely explains Dr. Phil’s dramatic and often unsympathetic reactions to guests on his show.
4. He Exploited Dina Lohan
One of the most awkward episodes of Dr. Phil aired in 2012, when a visibly intoxicated Dina Lohan appeared on the show. She was allegedly paid $50,000 for the interview, which quickly turned into a live train wreck. Dr. Phil didn’t hesitate to call Dina names like “phony” and “inauthentic,” further provoking an already unstable woman who could barely make a fully coherent sentence. The entire interview should’ve been called off, due to her inability to follow the protocol, but instead, the show decided that it would be great for ratings. Dr. Phil basically verbally attacked this woman for the entire duration of the show, using ridiculous insults as bait for her to react — totally inappropriate.
3. His Interview With Shelley Duvall
In 2016, Dr. Phil struck again with a controversial interview that sparked outrage in Hollywood. An interview with actress Shelley Duvall, titled “From Hollywood Star to Near Isolation,” seemed to be another attempt to shock viewers and gain ratings. Duvall, who has been out of the public eye for over a decade, suffers from mental health issues, and was not fit to be interviewed. Clearly out of touch with reality, the former star sat through a 45-minute interview with Phil before she was escorted to the Creative Care mental health clinic in Malibu, California. She stayed at the center for three days, but refused treatments and returned to her home in Texas. Many celebrities attacked Dr. Phil and deemed his actions shameless and cruel.
2. All Of His Guests Are Humiliated On Air
One constant theme in the Dr. Phil show is that all guests are disciplined and humiliated for their poor life choices. So why does the show get so many rating if we know Phil’s approaches are so inhumane and unprofessional? Some critics have suggested the show has a religious narrative. There is a guilty party, a confession, a moral judgement — in this case by Dr. Phil, and then some sort of provided solution which can be compared to penance. The main theme is that guests on the show are made to feel guilt, shame, and embarrassment. The audience needs to be shocked and appalled and allowed to poke fun at the poor, pathetic people on the screen in front of them. It’s a model that works well in our generation, but it is inherently flawed and morally void.
1. He Hit A Bodybuilder With His Car
The most recent news item involving Dr. Phil happened less than three weeks ago. Dr. Phil was driving in Universal City in LA, when he accidentally hit a bodybuilder who was crossing the crosswalk on a skateboard. Allegedly, the man wasn’t hurt, and Dr. Phil has claimed that he got out and had a conversation with the man in question. But two days later, the victim tweeted from his hospital room that he was in fact injured and was holding Dr. Phil responsible since he failed to stop at a stop sign. The odd thing is, the plaintiff, Terrence Bembury, has since deleted or deactivated his Instagram account. He was threatening to sue Dr. Phil, but we wouldn’t be shocked to hear they reached a settlement. After all, this is Phil McGraw we’re talking about.
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