by Elizabeth T. Andrews
American Reporter Correspondent
April 7, 2008
DR. PHIL NEEDS A SHRINK
CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- I've had my fill of Dr. Phil.
Macho, super entertainer, he is. Master manipulator of the moment? That, too. Compassionate, wise psychologist, he is not.
The first time I noticed him on an Oprah Winfrey show, he was forcing some distraught woman to "repeat after me" a Phil-ism he thought appropriate to her transgression, and one guaranteed to get him applause.
Now that he has had his own show for several years I am still waiting for Oprah, or someone in the international audience, to point out that effective therapy is a long, intense, pain-filled process of slowly getting an individual to understand why he/she thinks, feels and acts as they do.
No therapist-psychiatrist-psychologist with a dram of sympathy forces a suffering individual to make a fool of themselves in front of millions of people.
Granted, the people come willingly to weep and bleed on the Dr. Phil bed of nails and pithy Philish phrases, but many of them are obviously looking for real solutions to real problems, and that cannot be done in eight minutes by a Dr. Phil Mcgraw, a Sigmund Freud, or a Dr. Frankenstein.
The Psychological Gospel According to Dr. Phil McGraw spouts a list of traditional male propaganda guaranteed to keep the wimpish woman in her "place" and provides a strut for every wimpish male looking for power over others. A man must be, says the McGraw Gospel, protector, leader, provider, teacher.
I wish I could say the "what it means to be a man" list is laughable, but it isn't. It is implied inferiority of the individual woman, and of all women in general.
Let's take it apart one word at a time.
1. Protector. From what? Lions and tigers and bears? Muggings? Burglaries in the home? The noises downstairs in the deep, dark of the night make men tremble in fear just like they make women tremble in fear. There is not a fleck of evidence to prove men are less fearful of the unknown than women are and, no doubt, many men and boys often resent being pushed forward into that pretentious role of "protector."
If I were the man in a burglary in progress I would turn around and say to Mrs. Helpless, "Why should I be the one who has to go downstairs? You women want equality, you go downstairs first and tell the burglar I'll be down in a minute."
2. Leader. To where? On what subject? Money matters? The raising of children? Religion? Through the rattlesnakes to the chicken house to collect the eggs?
To lead implies there is someone in need of being led. Does an adult woman who is capable of deciding to get married and become chief cook, family nurse, housekeeper, house secretary, chief terminator of water spiders and svelte swatter of flies; a woman capable of working and balancing wife-hood and motherhood with a career in law, politics, medicine, the general marketplace; capable of contributing her time, talents and energy to her church, her neighborhood, her state and her country; capable of voting and running for office; capable of paying taxes and stopping at "Stop" signs -- does such a woman need to be lead somewhere?
The premise is facetious, and insulting to every woman with an IQ over 10.
3. Provider. The hand that controls the bread and butter controls us.
More women -- and a few good men -- have lived lives of quiet desperation in this tender trap than in any of the other puerile machinations on the list.
If a list of male/female contributions is made, and a monetary value agreed upon as to the worth of the house-person who is on duty 24 hours a day 365 days a year, then the situation has a reasonable chance of succeeding.
If no monetary recognition is made of the contribution a stay-at-home mom (or dad) brings to the union, then all you have is one adult "providing" for another able-bodied adult, which is almost always where the dance of power and indentured servitude begins.
A large percentage of our population is single, working moms. Many do not receive a shilling of child support. There's not a "male provider" in the pantry or one sitting at the bare kitchen table when it's time to pay the bills.
The only voice around that midnight table is the low, soft, "somebody has to provide for the children" warble of the tired ex-wife, mother.
4. Teacher. Excuse me?
Our public and private schoolrooms and universities are peopled with female teachers. Female psychiatrists, psychologists, a sprinkling of female priests and preachers, are "teaching" people every day in the fine art of thinking better, feeling better and behaving better. What remains for males to teach such women?
Women teach Sunday School (from the back seat of the religion bus), conduct corporate meetings, own and run businesses, make the supermarket, hospital, bank and lawyer's office hum. They are so vital to our economy that if every female walked off the job for a week, the economy would collapse.
Who among these "helpless" women needs to be taught anything in the home by a man who clocks out after eight hours a day while she never "clocks out," never goes off duty, and puts in double time on all holidays?
Anything a man can do in law, medicine, politics, business, art, literature or religion, a woman can do equally as well, and occasionally we do it better.
Protect. Lead. Provide for. Teach.
It's a great formula for parent-child relationships, or for a master and a well-trained pet. But adult women are not children or some man's beloved pet poodle. They don't need to be protected, lead, provided for, or taught.
They need to be recognized as full intellectual and spiritual equals, totally capable of teaching, contributing provisions, leading when necessary, and mutually capable of nourishing and protecting all members of the family while waltzing around the family room singing "Dance with me, Honey. The night has passed, and from the east comes the dawn of a radiant new day."
Dr.Phil, go to the back seat of the Free Woman's bus. You're not qualified to drive.
Elizabeth T. Andrews is a newspaper columnist whose Website contains her columns and poetry by her. Write her at email@example.com, or P.O. Box 816, Cartersville, GA 30120.