Dr. Phil not the cure

Move aside Brad Pitt, there’s a new man in town who has captured the hearts of millions of women. He’s charismatic, smart, honest, and he doesn’t beat around the bush.

Although his round frame and bald head do not make him a typical candidate for the ladies to swoon over, he offers something that they can’t seem to find a lot places: the uncut truth. Commonly referred to as Oprah Winfrey’s protege, he’s Dr. Phil, and during his daily one hour show, women–myself included–receive bite-sized advice from a preacher, psychiatrist and love mentor in one compact package.

Dr. Phil graduated from making regular appearances on Oprah’s Tuesday show to hosting his very own talk-show. This self-help guru is not only taking control of daytime television, he seems to have taken on an almost religious significance to his fans. Viewers tune into his show faithfully, and are mesmerized by his “tell-it-like-it-is” style which guides them through marriage, parenting, and dealing with the ideal body image. He’s even coined his own “Philisms” like finding your “authentic self,” that person you always wanted to be, and the “fictional self,” taking on the identity of who you believe you are supposed to be. In addition, the doctor has written the “ten laws of life” to help people achieve their goals and realize their dreams.

The religious undertones this psychology graduate offers keep his television show’s ratings high and his self-help book sales up. Everyone knows the way to middle America’s heart is through Oprah, so it certainly doesn’t hurt his career by having her on his side. Even Dr. Phil’s 23-year-old son is riding the gravy train. The fact that this law student isn’t a doctor seems to have no bearing on the public.

The doctor’s mass appeal might be due to his ability to make various life problems seem clear-cut and instantly changeable, even though eating disorders, domestic violence, and infidelity are not easy issues to sort through. You can’t genuinely “tell-it-like-it-is” in one hour; fortunately, people’s lives are more complex than this. Dr. Phil is a doctor of over-simplification. He “tells-it-like-it-is,” but really, isn’t he just stating the obvious? He gives superficial solutions to complicated issues, yet he is still seen as brilliant because of his fancy lingo and good sense of humor.

In short, whatever this doctor orders, I’m not buying.

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