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Friday, 02 January 2009 11:28

The 8 Minute Cure - Page 5

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But it's no small thing to drop judgments about your child. Most therapists know that the "real" work begins after the paragraph is read. Therapy might come next, because, for most people, taking such a step alone is beyond their emotional resources. In fact, such a situation is exactly what therapy is for. But in that web offering, there's no suggestion that if you find these issues too difficult, you might want to seek counseling.

Dr. Phil's advice falls loosely into the category of self-help. Now self-help is, by definition, something you do yourself, without the need of additional relationships. If you're in good enough shape to do that, then books and sites are enough, and you aren't in need of therapy or any other kind of help. The danger is when you're not in good enough shape or haven't the coping skills to get real and make the self-help sites and books useful. Then you may pile up self-help advice as an act of denial that keeps you in the problem. In that case, self-help becomes like self-medication: you may be alleviating symptoms without treating the disease.

Any person of common intelligence can see that what's on the website is bare-bones stuff. More help may well be needed, and it's offered: the appropriate Dr. Phil book is displayed alongside the site's spare advice, with a convenient link for purchase. He definitely wants his website to be part of your life, because it's a colorful hook for his books and a running ad for his show. The show hawks the books and the website, the website hawks the books and the show, the books cite the show, and the show cites the books--a perfectly contained conceptual universe in which there's never the slightest hint of doubt. The instructions are so clear and unnuanced as to be absolute. Over and over, in his writings and on his show, there's a clear message: everything will be all right, if you do what Dr. Phil says.

Dr. Phil sells certainty. In an ever more uncertain world, a world craving clear direction, certainty certainly sells. But is Dr. Phil really so certain? And is he even offering self-help? Not according to a link on his site's first page, "Legal Disclaimer."

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Last modified on Sunday, 11 January 2009 16:40

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