In society today, there is an ever-growing discussion on mental health and how the issue affects people of all ages. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about one in five adults in America experience mental illness. Meanwhile, it is also estimated that one in five children between the ages of 13 to 18 “have or will have a serious mental illness.”
Because of this, experts are adamant to support one’s mental health better. For some, taking part in an open discussion helps. This is perhaps why Dr. Phil McGraw and his talk show remain quite the hit.
Dr. Phil is an Oprah Winfrey protégé who specializes in psychology. According to his show’s website, McGraw “presents compelling stories about real people with a variety of emotional and behavioral problems, stripping away the shame and embarrassment that too often keeps people from seeking help.” And while his practice and his show may have helped some over the years, it must be noted that there are also several people whose lives he made worst. Let’s find out who these are:
20 Debbie Higgins McCall
For the record, Debbie Higgins McCall was never a patient of McGraw. Rather, she was once his wife. And based on her account of their marriage, it was anything but blissful because McGraw was reportedly unfaithful.
According to a report from The Kansas City Star, McCall explained, “When I confronted him about his infidelities he didn't deny these girls and told me that it had nothing to do with his feelings toward me, to grow up, that's the way it was in the world.”
19 Janet Harris
If you have been watching McGraw’s show for years, you would most likely remember Janet Harris as the skincare specialist who frequently made guest appearances on “Dr. Phil.”
According to a report from Radar Online, Harris decided to file a lawsuit against McGraw and his second wife, Robin, after she was bitten by their dog “without provocation and warning.”
18 Josie Goldberg
Josie Goldberg is a former guest on McGraw’s show who believes she was not properly compensated for her appearances.
According to a report from The Blast, Goldberg, who is a SAG/AFTRA performer, believes that “Dr. Phil” owes her an estimated $10,000 in residuals from re-runs of the three appearances over the years. Goldberg also went on to sue McGraw’s current wife.
17 Leah Rothman
Leah Rothman is a former staffer of McGraw who alleges that she was treated unfairly while working on his show. In fact, according to a report from Hollywood Reporter, Rothman claimed that the show host himself caused her “emotional distress.” Moreover, she also alleged that she was once falsely imprisoned.
The reports states, “Dr. Phil locked the door, yelled profanities and threatened employees for supposedly leaking internal information to the press.”
16 Sara Morrison
Sara Morrison is a woman who has accused McGraw of “unprofessional conduct.”
According to a copy of Dr. Phil’s Texas Disciplinary File obtained by the website Law & Crime, “Specifically, it was alleged that an inappropriate dual relationship developed between the licensee (McGraw) and Sara jane Morrison during the course of a therapeutic relationship between the doctor and complainant.”
15 Ted Williams
Ted Williams was a homeless man who shot to fame for his voice. After appearing on “Dr. Phil,” TV Guide reported that Williams was heading to rehab. Meanwhile, the psychologist released a statement saying, “If Ted is ever going to get better, he's got to be honest with himself and admit he's addicted to drugs and alcohol.”
However, Williams didn’t stay in rehab for long. He also told E!, “I love Dr. Phil. I don't want to bash him in any way. I walked out of treatment because it was a little scripted, I felt. There was no anonymity.”
14 Mercedes Nichols
Mercedes Nichols is a woman that became a source of significant controversy for McGraw and his show. As you may recall, when Nichols was only 16, she was arrested for taking part in the beating of a 16-year-old girl. After she was taken into custody, the Daily Beast reported that someone from McGraw’s staff came to bail her out to get an inside interview.
Over the years, Nichols got into more trouble. According to The Ledger, Nichols was arrested again for violating her probation.
13 Danielle Bregoli
As a teen, Danielle Bregoli appeared on “Dr. Phil” where she became known as the ‘Cash Me Outside’ girl. Several years later, Bregoli has been striving to change her image, even adopting a new name, Bhad Bhabie, while she pursues a music career. Since her appearance on the show in 2016, Bregoli has been receiving threats.
According to the Daily Mail, Bregoli went on the Kyle and Jackie O Show and remarked, “I still to this day get, "You're a disrespectful piece of ****, and "Why do you treat your mother like that?”
12 Shape Up Customers
Aside from headlining and running a hit talk show, McGraw also once dabbled in the field of weight loss. Specifically, he decided to put out a number of weight loss products known as the Shape Up! with Dr. Phil McGraw product line.
In 2004, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Shape Up! for making several misleading statements regarding its claims on the reduction of appetite swings and carbohydrate cravings. This lawsuit eventually reached a $10.5-million settlement.
11 Marisha Dotson
According to a report from Variety, cancer patient Marisha Dotson sent a demand letter to the “Dr. Phil” show after she was promised a free prosthesis. Dotson’s attorney also wrote in a statement, “She was being used as a prop to garner ratings and support for the show, a source of free advertising and marketing for the doctors, all of whom had no intention to actually help her or provide her the promised medical services.”
10 Jordan L.
Back in 2012, a woman by the name of Jordan L. had appeared on an episode of “Dr. Phil” entitled “Young, Reckless, and Enabled.” According to a joint report by Stat and the Boston Globe, Jordan’s aunt, Marianne Smith, said that she and the girl’s mother were concerned for Jordan’s well-being because she was experiencing withdrawal. She proceeded to tell the producer that Jordan needed heroin.
Then, Smith recalled, “They told us where to go, Skid Row. I was so scared.” The producer also reportedly told them not to mention show suggested the trip.
9 Kaitlin King-Parrish
During another episode of “Dr. Phil,” Joelle King-Parrish had decided to take along with her pregnant daughter, Kaitlin, to seek help for her heroin addiction. According to King-Parrish, none of the McGraw’s staff attended to her daughter’s medical needs upon their arrival.
After going for four hours without any treatment, the mother and daughter decided to go to the studio where one of the staff accompanied them to Skid Row so that Kaitlin could shoot up some heroin.
8 Kaden Mahaffa
According to documents obtained by TMZ, Kaden Mahaffa filed a lawsuit against McGraw after suffering a mental breakdown backstage. In fact, she said that she ended up “collapsing in tears and engaging in erratic behavior.”
After this, police were called and Mahaffa got “involuntarily committed to a mental health facility” for five days.
7 Maryanne Bodolay
Maryanne Bodolay says she was asked to appear on “Dr. Phil” so that she could be fat-shamed.
During an interview with the New York Post, she recalled, “When we got to the show, the whole premise changed. Suddenly, they had a couple of fat people in the audience striving to get thin: They were good, and we were bad because we were living. We weren’t attacking ourselves because we were fat. It was disappointing the way Dr. Phil decided to conduct the show. My feeling was we were used.”
6 Shirley Rae Dieu
In 2009, McGraw was slapped with a controversial lawsuit by a woman named Shirley Rae Dieu. According to a report from People, Dieu alleged that she was “brainwashed” and “subjected to edited tapings depicting her as a different personality other than her own.”
Moreover, Dieu’s suit also alleged that she was “forced to be in the same room with a completely live naked man while he exposed his entire naked body, genitals and all.”
5 Deepak and Satish Kalpoe
At one point, McGraw decided to cover the mysterious disappearance of Natalee Holloway on his show. Following this, brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe filed a lawsuit against the psychologist, saying they were portrayed as “guilty of committing criminal acts against Holloway.”
Moreover, according to a report from the Huffington Post, the brothers alleged that “Dr. Phil” aired “misleading portions of interviews and statements.”
4 Shelley Duvall
Many believe that actress Shelley Duvall was taken advantage of when she appeared on “Dr. Phil” while mentally ill. Several people in Hollywood blasted McGraw, including Stanley Kubrick’s daughter Vivian.
In a Twitter post, she wrote an open letter to McGraw saying “you are putting Shelly Duvall ‘on show’ while she is suffering from a pitiable state of ill health. Unquestionably, this is purely a form of lurid and exploitative entertainment – it’s appallingly cruel.”
3 Terry and David Myers’ Daughter
A few years ago, Terry and David Myers filed a lawsuit against McGraw due to the mistreatment of their minor daughter at a referred treatment facility following an appearance on his show.
According to the filing, “Island View Academy represented itself as a “therapeutic residential treatment center” when “in reality it was a private prison that locked up SM along with other minors, for the purpose of forcing her to become obedient by depriving her of freedom, privacy, education, and subjecting her to involuntary servitude, and unjust unusual punishments.”
2 Todd Herzog
As you may know, Todd Herzog rose to fame after winning “Survivor: China” back in 2007. A few years later, in 2013, Herzog made an appearance on “Dr. Phil” due to an alcohol problem.
When he made his entrance, he had to be carried into his seat because he was drunk. At that time, McGraw publicly remarked, “I’ve never talked to a guest who was closer to death.” During an interview with Stat and Boston Globe, Herzog said that he found Smirnoff vodka in his dressing room upon arrival. Someone also gave him a Xanax.
1 Britney Spears
During Britney Spears’ more tumultuous years, McGraw was accused of taking advantage of the pop star’s struggles by visiting her at the hospital with cameras in tow.
Following this, the Spears family’s spokesperson, Lou Taylor told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira, “I felt it was inappropriate for him (McGraw) to be self-serving. I felt for Jamie and Lynne that this was a time they were taken advantage of.”
Sources - The Kansas City Star, Radar Online, The Blast & Law & Crime