Britney and Dr. Phil

Yup, I’m going there. I’m about to weigh in on the whole Dr. Phil/Britney thing. Bear with me for a sec while I summarize for those who don’t know what went down with Britney leading up to this little get-together. For those of you who already know all about this skip down to past the line.

Britney Spears had an “episode” of some kind in her home, during which she locked herself and one of her sons in a bathroom when she was supposed to be giving them back to their father, Kevin Federline, as per their custody agreement. Several cop cars showed up, 2 ambulances, and the word on the street is that there was a chopper there as well. At the time I thought to myself “well I hope there’s no other crime going on in that city because all the cops are at Britney’s”. What was with the excessive response? Well, apparently at the time there was concern that she was hopped up on goof balls, “crazy” (hysterical), and had access to a gun. Yikes. She was taken to the hospital and put on watch.

Knowing nothing about Britney Spear’s personal life other than what’s reported in the media, I can’t really comment on her state of mind or the cause for her behaviour. Lots of other unqualified people have though, and here are the top 3:

1) She has undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
2) She’s hopped up on goof balls.
3) She has multiple personality disorder.
____________________________________________________________________

Now, back to the reason for my post: Dr Phil. Britney Spears was involuntarily admitted to the hospital and, while there, shortly after discharge, Dr. Phil entered her room without her prior knowledge, allegedly on the request of one of her parents, to talk to her about her situation. He then released a statement to the media about his visit and was alleged to have planned a show with Brit’s family and, hopefully (yeah right), Britney herself. That show was later canceled.

As someone with 2 degrees in psychology and neuroscience, I am personally offended by Dr. Phil’s existence. His show is a sick display of a well-to-do man taking advantage of people who are in a position to be easily taken advantage of. Having someone shout a bunch of “easy” answers to your problems, on TV, and then sell you diet pills is not what therapy is supposed to be about. It’s disgusting, what he is allowed to do simply because of his credentials.

Which brings me to the most important part of this whole story. Dr. Phil, apparently, is no longer a licensed psychologist. According to this article from TMZ, Dr. Phil retired his license in Texas in 2006. More importantly, he does not have a license to practice in California, where he went to speak to Britney.

“Well, he was acting on behalf of her parents, right, so it doesn’t matter if he has a license because he was speaking to her as a concerned friend.”
No, it is not alright. His statements imply that was speaking to her in his professional capacity as a psychologist (i.e., wanting to help her with her mental state). He was practicing without a license. That is not ok, period.

“But at least he wanted to do some good. Someone has to try to intervene with that girl before she gets herself killed!”
As I mentioned, Britney allegedly had no prior knowledge before his visit and, therefore, obviously didn’t give consent to see him. That is a gross violation of her rights. Not working at the hospital in which she was admitted, I can’t comment on their policies, but it seems odd to me that such a well-known visitor was able to get in to see such a well-known patient without raising some flags. Why was he able to see her without her consent, or even a courteous heads up? The hospital couldn’t even confirm or deny that she was there, because that itself is a violation of her privacy rights (even if it is well known by the media), so how did Dr. Phil get in there to see her? He is not Britney’s psychologist, which means that he was not consulted as part of her health care team to go speak with her. Thus, his speaking to her in this way is also a violation of her privacy, as no one outside of her health care team has any right to speak to her about (or have any knowledge) of the state of her condition.

“He was just trying to help. It’s not his fault that it turned out badly.”
That may be true. While his visit may have been about publicity, or at least partly, he also may have been genuinely concerned. Hindsight is 20/20, but did it seriously not occur to him that people would find out and it would blow up all over the place? He’s not stupid, so I doubt it. Did it not occur to him in his professional capacity that the resulting publicity might be further psychologically damaging to Britney in her condition? He’s not stupid, so I doubt it. The concerned part of him would have been much more responsible to contact a colleague in California and put them into contact with Britney’s parents for consultation with her health care team. This would have been a great and reasonably obvious way to actually help while avoiding the headline “Dr. Phil visits Brit!!”. Only arrogance (“only I can save her”), greed (“I want the credit for saving her”), stupidity, or a serious lack of judgement can make anyone behave so carelessly.

Conclusions:
1) Regardless of his intentions, Dr. Phil behaved in a way completely inappropriate to his profession and should be punished by his regulatory board (although, as he is no longer licensed, this may be complicated).
2) Dr. Phil is either completely unable to anticipate the consequences of his well-intentioned actions, is a greedy and arrogant prat who can’t pass up an opportunity for press, or something else entirely.
3) Dr. Phil should never again be able to use his name and fame to impose himself on anyone else’s medical situation no matter how concerned he may or may not be.

I will post more generally about Dr. Phil in later posts.

2 responses to “Britney and Dr. Phil

  1. Pingback: Better Health » The Oprah-fication Of Medicine

  2. Pingback: The Oprah-fication Of Medicine