I came across a snippet on the web the other evening that made a pretty strong--and shocking--statement about famed Television psychologist, Dr. Phil. The headline called Dr. Phil, who skyrocketed to stardom after landing a recurring gig on TV host Oprah Winfrey's show, a "Career Faker."
Naturally, any self-respecting wannabe journalist HAS to explore a bit when someone famous is called a "faker" of any sort. So I clicked on the link and found that our esteemed Doctor is not even a licenced clinical psychologist! I don't know, for sure, that he TOUTS himself as one, but he certainly allows the misconception to fester.
I mentioned it today, during what turned out to be a relatively heated extended family discussion, and my brother-in-law made a comment that, I think, explains it: Dr. Phil isn't paid to be a doctor; he's paid to be an entertainer. His job is to build ratings; period. His status as a licenced psychologist is far less important than his ability to grab an audience.
So he peddles his unique brand of unlicensed advice, and viewers tune in; all without the benefit of any sort of certification.
I guess that's OK. I can't really think of anything wrong with it, but it just feels wrong. The writers of the story seemed to feel a little betrayed too, in that they included Dr. Phil in with the infamous '80's rock music duo, Milli Vanilli, whom, you might remember, were embarrassed (to say the least) when they found themselves lip syncing to a skipping record while singing at an awards show in 1989. Their producer later admitted that the pair didn't actually sing on their album; it was recorded by someone else. They were renounced and, as I recall, forced to give up their various awards.
Somehow Dr. Phil's lack of credentials doesn't strike me quite as shady as Milli Vanilli's; it doesn't seem to have affected his viewership. But maybe I'm wrong. Does it matter to you? Whether you watch the show or not, does it strike you as a form of betrayal? Does a guy who touts himself as a doctor on TV, but who is a self-admitted entertainer owe it to his viewership to hold the credentials a REAL doctor would hold?
I've posted a poll over to the right; weigh in and let me know what you think.