When it comes to television medicine, there's nobody better than Dr. Phil McGraw. On his television series, Dr. Phil has imparted knowledge and helped people overcome their personal demons, but what do we really know about this television personality and the show he hosts?
Dr. Phil has been a part of our daily television routine since his show first went on the air in 2002, but in all that time, there have been a few controversies both on and off the air.
People come from all over the country to seek help in the treatment of their obsessions, substance abuse, and just about anything else Dr. Phil can do, but it comes at a price. Anyone willing to be treated by the TV doctor must do so on television, which can bring forth fame and fortune or misery and despair depending on who he is talking to. Many people have come out and decried foul at Dr. Phil while many more have sung his praises. It's up to the millions of people watching at home as well as those who are reading this to decide the truth!
It's time to have a seat in the studio and let us eveal 15 Dark Secrets Behind Dr. Phil
15 HE HAS INSULTED THE MENTALLY ILL
If you've ever watched his show, you know that Dr. Phil is all about helping people. That's the basis of any series where a doctor treats people's problems and his is no different. It may come as something of a surprise to learn that Dr. Phil McGraw hasn't been the most sensitive doctor when talking about people with mental issues.
In one interview with a 19-year-old girl named Victoria, he was helping her through an obsession, but became hung up on her use of the word "insane" in her initial letter to him.
He was quick to reassure her that she wasn't insane because insane people "suck on rocks and bark at the moon." He was probably trying to comfort his guest who had been accused of stalking her ex-boyfriend. For someone who claims to help people with disorders, obsessions and the like, his comment was hurtful.
14 HE HAS BEEN SUED A LOT
It's certainly normal for a celebrity who hosts a show like Dr. Phil to receive a lawsuit every now and again, but McGraw has been hit with some doozies.
In one suit, Janet Harris accused his dog of biting her and causing an infection. Another revolves around his treatment of two men suspected in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, a young woman who went missing in 2005. The men claim their interview was edited in such a way to make them appear guilty, with much of what they said being omitted.
He was also sued by Thomas Riccio, a witness in the O. J. Simpson civil case, for defamation.
The weirdest suit deals with Shirley Rae Dieu, a woman who claims she was brainwashed by Dr. Phil and forced to do disturbing things.
13 THE SHOW HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF GIVING SUBSTANCES TO GUESTS
There have been more than a few gusts on Dr. Phil looking for help in treating their substance abuse issues. They are often lured to the set with the promise of free rehabilitation programs paid for by the show, but some have claimed their substance abuse was facilitated for the benefit of the series' ratings.
Todd Herzog came to the show for help in treating alcoholism. He claims he arrived to the set sober, but found a bottle of vodka in his dressing room.
He drank the entire bottle and was brought onto the stage barely able to walk. Dr. Phil then administered the breathalyzer shown in the picture and he registered a .236 BAC, which is more than three times the legal driving limit. Other guests have claimed similar accounts while some have been provided with Xanax and other drugs by members of the staff.
12 HE GOES TOO FAR WITH GUESTS
Every interviewer has their own style of asking questions, whether they read from a card and barely interact with their guests or berate them endlessly until they start to cry. Granted, there are plenty of interviews conducted in a civil manner, but guests have complained that they should have never appeared on the show.
Some have said they felt bullied into a corner and believed their pain was broadcast for ratings and not to help them, which is probably true— it is television after all. Other guests have been put into a position where they felt forced to reveal something personal they wouldn't normally have and their lives were forever changed as a result.
Every guest is going to experience the show's platform differently, but many have laid blame square on the host's shoulders for his interview style and the manner in which they were brought onto the show.
11 HE IS BEHIND SEVERAL SHADY PRODUCTS
There's hardly a celebrity out there who has never thrown their name onto one product or another over the years. It's a fantastic way to generate money without putting in too much effort, but then there are those who endorse or even create a product with little to no value.
Dr. Phil appears to be an expert at doing this as the Shape Up weight loss pills he promoted turned out to be worthless. They were apparently so ineffective, a group of duped former customers got together and filed a class-action lawsuit.
The manufacturer ended up shuttering its doors and agreeing to a settlement.
They were forced to provide a cash refund of $12.50 for every box of Shape-Up purchased, but it was limited to four boxes ($50). To be fair, Dr. Phil shilled the crappy product, but all of his proceeds were earmarked for charities fighting childhood obesity.
10 HIS SHOW PAID BAIL FOR SOMEONE ACCUSED OF KIDNAPPING
Back in 2008, a group of eight in Polk County, Florida decided to spend their time beating someone up. Fortunately, they thought it was a good idea to film themselves committing the crime so they were all were arrested. They were charged with kidnapping and misdemeanor battery charges—bail was set between $30,000-$37,000.
The producers were so excited to get one of these people on the show, they decided to help one of them out with their bail. According to a representative of the show, they normally help people out financially to get them on the air, but someone went beyond their usual guidelines in posting $30,000 bail for Mercedes Nichols. To their credit, they canceled the interview after this discrepancy came to light.
9 HIS TWEETS HAVE STIRRED CONTROVERSY
Everyone has that one Tweet they wish they didn't send. Fortunately, you can just delete it and move on with your life... unless, of course, you are a celebrity and everything you do is captured forever!
Dr. Phil posted a particularly odd and insensitive Tweet back in 2013 when he asked his 1.2 million followers, "If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have [relations] with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teensaccused"
The Tweet was almost immediately deleted, but it didn't take long for the good doctor to take some serious heat over it.
The show defended the Tweet indicating it was meant to evoke a discussion leading into a topic for the show. Taken on its own, the Tweet suggests it might be okay for someone to take advantage of a drunk person.
8 THE FALLEN STARS
Stirring controversy is part and parcel what daytime television like the Dr. Phil show is all about.
One of his biggest flubs, which brought a great deal of controversy and ire onto the show, occurred when he interviewed Shelly Duvall. Duvall is a former actress who is likely best known for playing Wendy Torrance, Jack Nicholson's wife on the film The Shining. The role was particularly difficult for her given the constant stress placed on her by director Stanley Kubrick. She had some underlying mental health issues, which may be why Dr. Phil wanted to interview her.
The interview was an awful spectacle. Duvall was clearly suffering from mental and physical health issues, but Dr. Phil went through with it anyway. She ended up checking herself into a mental treatment facility following the interview and Hollywood went to task berating Dr. Phil for taking advantage of her.
Other troubled celebrity guests include Buffy's Nicolas Brendon and The O.C.'s Mischa Barton.
7 HIS WIFE DOESN'T AGE?
There are plenty of people who get work done and don't tell people about it, but when it comes to lying about whether or not you have had a little something nipped and tucked, you just make yourself appear disingenuous.
According to both Dr. Phil and his wife, Robin, she has had nothing done. If that were true, it would be an amazing accomplishment given the woman is in her sixties, but retains the youthful looks of someone half her age. It's one thing to not speak about it, but lying is something else. You might even question their motivation for dishonesty.
Experts on the subject have indicated she likely receives Botox injections, had a nose job, and cheek and lip implants. There's nothing wrong with those procedures, but she surely wants to sell her specialized line of skincare and beauty products.
6 ACCUSATIONS OF CHAUVINISM
Most people's ex-wife or husband won't have the nicest things to say about them. Divorce is hardly ever amicable, so it's not entirely surprising that someone like Debbie Higgins, Dr. Phil's first wife, has gone on record indicating he isn't the nicest guy in the world.
She hasn't spoken much about their four-year marriage, but there was one comment she did make that doesn't paint Phil in the best light.
According to Higgins, Phil wanted her to be a kept wife.
He preferred she stayed at home and did whatever womanly tasks needed doing around the house.
He was also insistent that she look her best at all times and suggested she do "chest exercises" to ensure her bust remained firm and youthful in appearance. Granted, the mindset of people back in the early '70s was somewhat different than it is today, but it wasn't that different!
5 THE CANCELED BRITNEY SPEARS SPECIAL
These days, pop superstar Britney Spears is doing rather well, but back in 2008, she had something of a breakdown. It seemed to happen suddenly and inexplicably, Spears went into a barber shop and shaved her head and later, when confronted by paparazzi, she attacked a car with her umbrella.
She was going through some stressful times and given that her entire life was under the microscope, it became a public spectacle: enter Dr. Phil McGraw!
Dr. Phil established a relationship with Spears' parents and planned a special intervention-type show purported to help the pop star. Spears' parents ended up pulling the plug accusing McGraw of exploiting their daughter's poor emotional state. They felt he was being self-serving and had little to no interest in helping their daughter so they canceled the program completely.
McGraw has denied their accusations, but he didn't come out of the situation looking good.
4 HE ONCE RAN A STOP SIGN AND PLOWED INTO A PEDESTRIAN
Here is a case that could probably happen to anyone, but it happened to Dr. Phil. While driving down the street, he approached a stop sign with a crosswalk, but allegedly failed to stop. Instead, he reportedly plowed right into Terrence Bembury, who is a professional bodybuilder.
Bembury was riding his skateboard across the crosswalk at the time and even posted to his Instagram, "Dr. Phil just hit me with his car this morning. I filled a police report.. And injury.. Waiting for the dew process.."
Apparently, Dr. Phil got out of his car and made sure the guy was alright. They had a conversation and Bembury said in his statement McGraw shook his hand and took off. He wasn't charged with fleeing the scene, but he should have stayed there until the police arrived. Fortunately, Bembury wasn't seriously injured.
3 HE'S A MEDIA TYCOON WORTH $400 MILLION
Dr. Phil has been immensely successful in his career. He started out hosting a self-improvement seminar called Pathways, but left that market to create a new company, Courtroom Sciences, back in 1989. It was through this company he met Oprah Winfrey, who hired his company in consultation on a case levied against her by the beef industry. He got his big break when he appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show after he was hired to appear regularly and launched his own series from there.
He landed his own nationally syndicated talk show in 2002 and has been continuing to increase his media presence by publishing books and endorsing various products. Thanks to his immense success, he has amassed a fortune of an estimated $400 million. His annual salary is $88 million, which he earns just from his time on the show.
2 CATCH ME OUTSIDE
After Danielle Bregoli's unintelligible comments on the show turned her into a meme known as the "Cash Me Ousside" girl, her popularity exploded. To her credit, she has earned quite a bit of money allowing her to pay off her mother's mortgage and begin a real career— all at the tender age of 14.
Thanks to her time on Dr. Phil, she has become a singer with such hits as "Hi Bich", "Mama Don't Worry", and "These Heaux" credited to her name. It all stemmed from her inappropriate behavior including wielding a knife, twerking, and stealing, which landed her a spot on his show. Now, sadly, the rest of the world must put up with Ms. Bregoli thanks to Dr. Phil's quest for ratings.
1 DR. PHIL ISN'T A REAL DOCTOR
To be clear, Dr. Phil McGraw does hold a doctoral degree in psychology, but he is not licensed to practice medicine. Just like Ross on Friends, it is appropriate to refer to him as doctor, but he isn't licensed to give medical advice to people.
His degree essentially means that he has studied psychology extensively, but studying psychology doesn't mean he can practice it without a license.
His lack of experience in practicing psychology is evident in how he speaks to and reacts to his guests. His comments on insanity and the way he can sometimes berate a guest until they lose control is not something a trained psychologist would ever do.
Does he help people? Sure, sometimes he does. Would those folks benefit from receiving care from a medical doctor in lieu of seeing Dr. Phil? Absolutely.
Do you have other Dr. Phil trivia to share? Leave it in the comments!