The 8-Minute Cure

The 8-Minute Cure

Can Watching Dr. Phil Change Your Life?

By Michael Ventura

July/August 2005

You sort of know who he is, even if you don't know who he is. You may not watch afternoon TV, you may be in bed by the time The Tonight Show airs, you may not like talk shows in general, but our media-infested world buzzes certain names into our ears until they're inescapable--names like Leno, Oprah, Dr. Phil. So you know, by a kind of osmosis, that Leno is a comic, Oprah is a force of nature, and Dr. Phil is some sort of therapist. And you know he's "huge," as we say of "hot" celebrities. You see his name at the top of bestseller lists, you see his face in bookstore displays--a genial, ruddy, not unintelligent face. There's something accessible about his presence and he's . . . some sort of therapist.

For those aware of him only out of the corner of the mind's eye, so to speak, it may be something of a shock to learn that, for millions, Dr. Phil is the therapist, paying daily house calls via TV to countless living rooms. His TV show is watched by an average of 6.6 million people every day, and five of his books have been number one on the New York Times bestseller list. He not only offers celebrity endorsements for weight-loss products and regularly goes on sold-out speaking tours around the country, but even has a muppet on Sesame Street named after him--"Dr. Feel." So you might ask yourself, as I asked myself, "What's going on in this world when the dominant male star on daytime TV is a clinical psychologist?"

A few months ago, The Economist shed some light…

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