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Dr. Phil exploiting Shelley Duvall

So, before we begin here is a hopelessly low quality copy of the episode. As it is copyrighted, I will have to remove it if asked (and I will probably remove it anyway quite soon), however I am aware that this show is no longer being promoted or marketed, and there is no way to obtain a “legitimate viewing” at this time, and that is my fair-use rational for supplying it:

Video © Peteski Productions, 2016. Original US air-date: 18 Nov 2016.

What’s the problem?

Well, without reading other people’s comments on this, I see a number of huge ethical problems with this episode. Firstly – and this is not the only time this has happened on the Dr. Phil show – it seems very obvious that Ms Duvall has not given informed consent to be filmed, broadcast, and ogled at. Secondly, Phillip C. McGraw introduced her in a completely offensive and sexist way. His introduction was this:

“The former starlet famous for her quirky and waif-like appearance is unrecognizable.” -Phillip C McGraw, 2016.

That sounds an awful lot like body-shaming someone for their aging process to me. Yet later on in the episode he tells her she’s still beautiful. Make your goddamned mind up!

Thirdly, Phillip C McGraw is not a psychologist, and his show is the worst level of trash on TV that there is. Now you might say “well everyone knows he isn’t a psychologist” – um, no they don’t. I have to tell fans this, and half the time they don’t believe me. It was only about a year ago that I told this to someone who simply didn’t believe me. She would have done better to go on the Jerry Springer Show than to appear on this one, at least Springer doesn’t bullshit his guests.

Fourthly, Phillip C McGraw offers her “professional assistance as a gift”. Hmm, really? What he doesn’t tell you is that he has specifically decided what professional assistance she’s going to need – despite the fact that he is unqualified to do so. For people who have mental or behavioural disorders there are a number of different ways to approach treatment. McGraw’s preferred method is to send her off to some unfamiliar place for treatment. Whereas she could have received treatment in her home, or even by telephone. There was no evidence that anyone professional evaluated how best to approach treatment from the best interests of Ms Duvall.

But McGraw does treat Ms Duvall with respect, right?

I feel genuinely annoyed at the fact that McGraw is so good at pulling the wool over his viewer’s eyes. Let’s be honest here, the kind of people that are interested in this show are generally pretty naive about current psychological thought. That’s not to be disparaging, it’s just that the show would lose its interest if a person has a strong knowledge of current psychological theories. The show is after all based on the audience being shocked by the guests.

Right, so I actually haven’t finished listing the problems with just this one episode yet, but I wanted to give you the opportunity to pause for a moment and think about whether you think McGraw is genuinely respectful to his guests? Well I think he’s not an the reason is…

Fifthly, McGraw’s show thrives on provoking and perpetuating the social stigmas attached to mental and behavioural disorders.

“The single most important barrier to overcome in the community is the stigma and associated discrimination towards persons suffering from mental and behavioural disorders.” –World Health Organization, 2001.

Now I can’t possibly go over social stigma in just this one post – if you want to know more you’re going to have to do some reading, or watch some videos, starting with my own here:

Baxter, D. 2016. Video released under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence (Aus). Originally published at:

For many people stigma is worse than the disease itself. To hear people say that for yourself see this video featuring HIV+ people.

Generally speaking, from what I’ve seen of the show in the past, McGraw is very often interested in blaming people who likely have mental or behavioural disorders for their anti-social behaviours. This of course is called victim-blaming. Now he does sprinkle in a bit of “it’s not your fault” here and there, but I think one of the things that made this episode in particular so heinous is the fact that Ms Duvall clearly does not understand what’s going on around her, and McGraw & producers still think it’s appropriate to publish and profit from her “interview” anyway.

And by the way he does use victim-blaming language, even in this episode. For example, towards the end of the episode you hear him say that Ms Duvall “refused medication”. The way that he phrased it implied that she should have accepted medication it’s for her own good; however the episode itself made it clear Ms Duvall is fearful of doctors. So really this response is exactly what you would have expected from someone in her circumstance. We don’t even know what her diagnosis is and whether it can be managed with medication or not, so that statement was quite inappropriate and disrespectful to say the least.

Sixthly, I would have to assume that Ms Duvall was lured onto the show under false pretences. She doesn’t appear to understand that she’s being filmed, as previously mentioned.

Do these opinions matter?

Well it’s not just that there are ethical problems with the show, but the fact that it also a clear breach of professional standards by anyone’s measure. For reasons I’ve already listed. Now what’s interesting is that even the producers of the show have realised they fucked up big time by producing and then publishing this episode – and if you want proof of that go here. You will find that all the pages on the DrPhil website with mention of the episode have been removed. As of writing this though you can see what was there by viewing the Google-cached versions. Note that despite the fact that this action proves they’ve acknowledged their fuck-up that there’s no official explanation given.

Ms Duvall deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. I fear that what McGraw has done can only cause her undue damage and harm. Ms Duvall doesn’t deserve to be stigmatised in this way, and the greatest tragedy of all is that the show didn’t even try to balance the negativity by showing her at her best. She might have plenty of other great hobbies and interests that fill her time in a valuable and fulfilling way, but the show paid no attention to that area of her life at all.


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2 Responses to “Dr. Phil exploiting Shelley Duvall”

  1. Dayal Krishnadas says:

    Shelly Duvall is simply suffering from liver and spleen issues due to too much gluten and cholesterol. The spleen is located in the Hypochondriac Region of the body, and when it becomes clogged, it causes a disruption with left brain mental faculties, leaving only the creative/emotional side of the brain active. However, her liver is also toxic, so she also has a toxic right brain as well. She should remove all animal fat, dairy and grains from her diet until these organs can be completely clarified, as well as the rest of her body mass. A 90 day juice fast will bring excellent improvements. Medicine is just a cover-up that hides the source of the problem by only addressing the symptoms rather than cure the problem. #HypocritesOath #NoCuresAllowed #Freemasonry

  2. Amanda says:

    I was recently on the Dr. Phil show, “Obsessed with my Father’s Death; Was it Murder?” which premiered January 9th, 2018. I had three goals I hoped to accomplish with the help of Dr. Phil.  First, I hoped to get answers about my Dad’s suspicious death. Second, I wanted to prevent the unnecessary opioid deaths of other patients, especially when that medicine is delivered against their will. My last goal was to obtain help for my Brother and myself. Unfortunately, none of these goals were accomplished as Dr. Phil and staff instead chose to turn the show into a Jerry Springer production and in doing so lied to and exploited my family throughout the process.

    My letters to the show desperately plea for help in getting answers following my Sister and Brother finding a note in my Dad’s Book of Mormon saying he was being forced to take Fentanyl by his primary nurse despite a diminished oxygen saturation and that she may be trying to kill him. We asked for my Dad to be autopsied. However, when the results came back it said there was absolutely no trace of Fentanyl or Morphine in his system.

    When I obtained the hospital records I found that these medications significantly increased the night he was killed. The police said they were going with the autopsy results and would not be pursuing the case. I then went to the State Board of Nurses and State Board of Medical Examiners, at which time I found that a second set of medical records were produced. When there were no answers or accountability through these avenues I began speaking to medical malpractice attorneys. I also began writing letters to local as well as national media outlets. I was beyond thrilled at the prospect of Dr. Phil taking the story as I was a major fan and felt that he really was out to help people. We quickly found that the motives were not at all to help, but to create unnecessary drama revictimizing our whole family all in a pathetic ploy for ratings.

    My Dad’s ex-wife, Brenda was never mentioned in our correspondence to the show. We wanted to focus on our Family and the hospital and she had already done enough damage while my Father was alive through her documented and frequent physical, financial and emotional abuse against my Dad. Shakespeare says, “We are all fools in love.” and this couldn’t be more accurate in my Father’s situation with Brenda. Despite her packing up the house and leaving my Dad to marry some woman beater she met on the internet, my Dad still viewed her as and called her his wife all the way up to his death.

    Throughout his hospitalization she sat near his bed making promise after promise on fulfilling his final wishes. As soon as he died, however, she instead scurried up to his house like the greedy dirty little rat she is and began loading up his property as well as taking the life insurance all for herself providing not even a penny to fulfill the promises she had made to my Father on his deathbed. What the Dr. Phil show so cowardly edited out AMONG MANY OTHER THINGS, is that when my Sister, Mom and I got to the house, my Mom was punched in the face unexpectedly by Brenda’s husband, which is a matter of public record.  There is not a thing I have said or will say that is not backed up by documented evidence i.e. police reports, autopsy reports, medical reports, my Dad’s journals and Book of Mormon, etc.

    We were disgusted Brenda was introduced as Dad’s former wife and best friend.  A best friend is not somebody who uses, abuses, lies to, scams you, someone who would sit next to your deathbed lying to you making promises to complete your final wishes knowing they were conning you for the payday, someone so pathetic they would rather you sit in an urn to hurt your family than to do the right thing, someone who after getting the life insurance fraudulently encourages others not to donate to have you buried using false accusations, someone who would do all of those things and SO MUCH more and then have the audacity to come to the Dr. Phil show to further assault acting like you play a role in this story or the work done. We haven’t seen you since you cashed the check!! Brenda neglected to share that the reason I wanted a relationship exclusively with my Dad and not her is due to the years of abuse I had either witnessed or been informed of her committing against my Brother and/or Dad.

    The show sought to either portray or allow me to be portrayed in some disgusting Norman Bates type fashion which anybody who knew the relationship between my Father and me found tacky and disgusting. Additionally, I was required to present between 350-400 pages of evidence backing up every word I am saying, yet my Dad’s ex-wife could make baseless claims providing no evidence. Then Dr. Phil had the audacity to correct me for getting off topic when I attempted to defend myself when the staff lied to us about Brenda even being there in the first place, truly shameful!

    While my Father and I did have issues in our relationship, as I am sure many fathers and daughters do, that was not an issue we had, nor did our issues motivate me to use his death to repair those wrongs. After what was found, I merely did what I would hope anyone would do in defense of and to get answers for a loved one or any human being for that matter. Sadly, the producers determined that made me crazy and sought to push that agenda.

    We feel that the only helpful piece of information we were given by the show is that the autopsy performed was done using blood from earlier that day before the doses were given. Because of this mistake, we agree with Dr. Khan that we will not be able to obtain justice or real answers regarding my Dad. However, the show did nothing else to change our views on what happened to our Dad. We still believe that the hospital forced our Father to take medication against his will, which resulted in his death. In fact, we were even told by the producer that they found a ton of inconsistencies in the medical report.

    The only respectable thing Dr. Phil and staff did was to create a memorial video for my Dad which they edited out of the final show. As for the “help” offered by Dr. Phil we were brushed off by resource director Anthony Haskins who asked what help we needed and said, “Sure, just email me.” only to respond back offering some Dr. On Demand sessions. If I knew then what I do now, that Dr. Phil wouldn’t let us get the truth out, that we would once again be in the same room as the con-artist Brenda, and that we would all be lied to and exploited throughout the whole process for a few stupid Dr. On Demand sessions that I could have done for myself, I would never have gotten wrapped up in this Hollywood fakery. I implore potential guests to avoid reaching out to Dr. Phil with your stories and save yourself the heartache, disappointment, and embarrassment.

    In closing, upon reviewing the final product of the show it was such an artificial product full of many inaccuracies which I will address in future statements or videos. I just couldn’t have been more disappointed with the entire process, outcome and the reality of who Dr. Phil actually is.

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