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|The 8 Minute Cure - Page 14|
And yet, and yet . . . I wonder about Dr. Phil. His sincerity seems unfeigned. While it's hard to believe that he's oblivious to the crassness of his enterprise, it's equally hard to believe that he Âdoesn't intend good. Nevertheless, meaning well doesn't excuse his means. A therapist friend said to me, "The show isn't cynical." Sorry, no. The show is cynical. Deeply and fundamentally cynical. It's cynical in direct proportion to how much it pretends not to be cynical.
Whether Dr. Phil himself is cynical--that's another issue. He may not have had the patience to practice psychotherapy, as he's famously said, because he may sincerely believe that digging into the depths is a waste of time. That's surely a defensible position. But the show is a different matter. Not only does the show ignore the depths, the show ignores the danger signs. Further, the show goes out of its way to ignore danger signs. That's cynical.
The Depths of Shallowness
Addressing a problem on the same level as the problem, and thereby deepening the problem, is one of Dr. Phil's formulas. Case in point:
Â In January, Dr. Phil displayed six overweight women desperate to slim down to fit into their wedding dresses. In fact, some of them had scheduled their weddings at least once before, but canceled because they felt too overweight to walk down the aisle. Dr. Phil treated this strictly as a weight problem. The idea that they might not be losing the weight because they were frightened of getting married never came up.
These women were presented as "contestants," who, if they met Dr. Phil's weight-loss goals, would win upgrades of their wedding rings and many other gifts. "I'm going to throw every resource I have to help you lose the weight." "This isn't about willpower, it's about programming." "The wedding day is often the biggest day of a woman's life. All eyes are on her. Now there's a big problem if she's--too big." The implication being: her family and friends, and his family and friends, can't love or approve of her unless she's of an acceptable size.