On the surface, Phil McGraw looks like the answer to an addict’s prayers. Countless families have turned to his show for help, from moms that can’t handle teen tearaways to famous people holding on by a thread.
Whether you’re Danielle Bregoli or Dina Lohan, the doc claims to have the magic touch. However, all he really has is a big budget and a knack for bringing out the worst in people for compelling TV.
Many of his viewers don’t even know that Dr. Phil is a phony. While he did once hold a therapist’s license, he doesn’t have one now. He hasn’t had one since 2006, and even then, it was in the state of Texas, and not the state of California where his show is filmed.
According to Phil, he doesn’t need one:
I retired my license…I don’t need a license…I’ve chosen to pursue a different course and use of my education.
Essentially, what Dr. Phil is doing is unethical, immoral, and potentially very dangerous. Any psychologist worth their salt will tell you that, but this isn’t the shadiest side of Hollywood’s most famous quack.
Like many people, Sara had a tough time in college and decided to seek some professional help for self-esteem issues and depression. Back then, McGraw was just your run-of-the-mill therapist working in Texas when he welcomed Sara into his care. According to her 2016 interview with Radar Online, the entire summer went by with nothing out of the ordinary happening.
Sara said that while he was “extremely insistent” that she calls him all the time, the typical patient-doctor boundaries weren’t crossed until the following year when she started working for him as an intern. That’s when things took a shocking turn. Trigger warning: Sara’s claims aren’t pretty.
He would be running his hand up and down the inside of the thigh all the way up to my panties. He’d put his hands between my legs. He’d reach in my blouse and touch my breasts. He pulled my breasts out of my bra and kissed them.
Like many young women in this situation, Sara says she froze in terror and made it clear she didn’t reciprocate. When he undressed in front of her on one occasion, and she turned away, he reportedly said:
What’s the big deal? It’s just a man’s body.
Morrison bravely reported McGraw’s incredibly heinous behavior to the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. The resulting year-long investigation had some interesting results. As there was no hard evidence of abuse, the Board cleared him but instead penalized him for “unprofessional misconduct” for hiring a patient.
He was allowed to keep his license and allowed to continue practicing, but there was a catch. McGraw was ordered to a year of supervision, meaning that a second therapist had to watch every single session. Not only that, but Phil had to pay for their time out of his own pocket.
Effectively, they couldn’t prove the allegations against him but instead did the next best thing–made it impossibly expensive for him to continue practicing.
Within a year, McGraw had skipped town. Morrison said the abuse she suffered at the hands of TV’s most prominent doctor changed the course of her life forever, but despite these reports resurfacing years ago, he’s still on our screens. More worryingly, Sara isn’t the only one who has pointed the finger at Dr. Phil.
Back in 2007, two women, Shirley Dieu and Crystal Matchett decided to seek help from the now-famous Dr. Phil on his show. But, when they got there, things didn’t exactly go to plan.
According to the lawsuit filed against McGraw in 2009 , they arrived at the studio in California and were locked in a room with McGraw, who was entirely naked.
When they tried to leave the room, staffers supposedly blocked the exit and disconnected the phones. The allegations also suggest that they were kept against their will, subjected to mental and physical abuse, and touched inappropriately by several defendants, including McGraw.
As you might expect, McGraw has protested his innocence on both accounts. However, interestingly, Dieu and Matchett’s lawsuit never made it to the courtroom because it was settled behind closed doors. We all know what that means. They were paid to go away.
One of the most shocking things about these allegations is how quickly they’ve been forgotten. If these claims had been thrust into the spotlight during the height of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movement, would we still be sat here watching this man “help” others?
Are three women not enough to bring him down? While Harvey Weinstein might be a prolific sexual assailant with dozens of women making allegations against him, does that mean that the voices of one or two against Dr. Phil don’t matter?
During the time that Morrison spoke to Radar Online, Dr. Phil was the most-watch daytime series, a crown it continued to hold for years. These scandals have never once dented his viewing figures or caused the network to think twice about renewing the show. He was even presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2020.
In a world that is growing increasingly quick to hold public figures accountable for their actions, Dr. Phil is still clinging to the top spot like a gangrenous limb. In the words of McGraw himself:
We all have a social mask, right? We put it on, we go out, put our best foot forward, our best image. But behind that social mask is a personal truth, what we really, really believe about who we are and what we’re capable of.