According to many of you on the forums, the answer is No, Dr. Phil does not understand midlife crisis. I am going to disagree. I’m not saying he’s an expert–though perhaps he is. His show covers a wide variety of topics and he brings in experts; I think he does an excellent job of that and the viewers do not always see it because often the experts are the professionals who help the guests after they leave the show, but may not appear on the show themselves. Dr. Phil is about the people–his guests–and thus he is going to focus on the individuals above specific symptoms of a disorder. And let’s not forget, MLC is not an official psychological disorder; it is not something we can read about in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Were he addressing bipolar or specific personality disorders as his topic, he might be more specific.
Dr. Phil asked Tony if he was really wanted and was going to go through with the divorce. Was that evidence of his ignorance? I don’t think so. I think it is evidence of his respect and validation toward his guests. A few weeks ago he had a husband on the show who denied infidelity or continuing infidelity and failed a lie detector–the man continued his denial after receiving the results. Dr. Phil acknowledged that he doesn’t know if the man is lying and that the results may be wrong. He understands that without concrete evidence, there is nothing to prove. Dr. Phil spent many years as an expert to the courts; he may be certain and yet understand that something will not hold up. He may understand that Tony may change his mind someday–after all, Tony said he thinks he will grow old with Jill–but Dr. Phil understands that Tony doesn’t know or believe that he will change his mind, therefore it would be disrespectfully rude and invalidating to say otherwise.
He knows the power of I’m sorry you feel… And to his credit he did call Jill on her use of the word never when she said she would never marry again. Tony did not use the word never, he just said he was not going to change his mind about getting a divorce. And let’s face it, his divorce was two weeks away when this was taped (in January 2011); he probably did not change his mind. He did not appear to be cycling that rapidly and had not been in Monster. He was kind to his wife on the episode–he touched her hand in a gesture that was intimately comforting when they were seated in the audience.
I know a lot of you don’t think Dr. Phil gets MLC. Debate the other side and think about how he does get it for a moment. Post both side of the argument and refute the opposing sides.
I think I’ve done a pretty good job of educating you, so my readers may know a lot about MLC. Could you be so well-informed that your expectations are too high?
I know, Dr. Phil has a PhD in Psychology. But look at who he is addressing: the general population. It would not be appropriate for him to have a scholarly discussion of MLC and its related concepts: overt and covert depression, the Shadow, Liminality… anything Jungian.