Dark Stories About How 'Dr. Phil' Worked Behind The Scenes

As one of the top-rated daytime TV hosts in the country, Dr. Phil McGraw has reached millions of people through his namesake talk show. He's had a ton of wild guests on Dr. Phil, but many of his visitors are normal people with average problems. 

However, if you dig a little beneath the surface, it's not hard to unearth some truly disturbing things about the doctor and his televised legacy. The revelations in the following stories question all the good deeds the show claims to have done. Not only is there a possibility that going on Dr. Phil might not help you, but it could actually leave you further damaged.


  • His Guests Were Reportedly Given Drugs And Alcohol

    His Guests Were Reportedly Given Drugs And Alcohol
    Video: YouTube

    Dr. Phil gives the impression that he wants to help addicts achieve sobriety. Indeed, the frequency of addicted guests' appearances on his show illustrates either McGraw's interest in this field or his interest in the ratings that such stories provide. Whatever the reason, multiple guests claim they were given drugs and alcohol by Dr. Phil employees.

    Todd Herzog, the winner of Survivor: China and a recovering alcoholic, says that he was given vodka and Xanax during the taping of his show segment. Another guest, Jordan Smith, struggled with heroin addiction but was allegedly taken to LA's skid row by show producers to find a fix. Smith was also pregnant at the time.

  • He Allegedly Locked An Employee In A Tiny Room

    Leah Rothman was a longtime segment director for the Dr. Phil show, and in 2015, she filed a lawsuit against McGraw for false imprisonment and emotional distress. Allegedly, McGraw called employees to the office, locked them in a guarded room, and yelled at them for leaking info to the press.

    While the show vehemently denied the accusations, Rothman had compelling evidence - a brief video clip from the show's archives showing the behavior in question. There was just one problem. A judge refused to let the video be entered into evidence, citing a copyright issue as the cause of the ban. Phil McGraw won the case.

  • He Told A Mom Not To Buy Her Son Barbies

    Dr. Phil gives advice and attempts to share insight on difficult situations. A lot of talk show hosts do the same things. But are McGraw's insights psychologically sound? According to some experts in the field, the answer is a resounding no. In fact, McGraw's guidance could be detrimental to the people he claims to help.

    Dr. Laurie Essig cites McGraw's rigid worldviews and questionable parenting advice as evidence of his lack of skill. "Good thing we have Dr. Phil to keep us trapped in the way things are rather than help us imagine the way things could be," she writes. Dr. Essig also yearns for the day when "not very many people would feel desperate enough to get child rearing advice from TV personalities like Dr. Phil." Her comments were made in regard to a Dr. Phil excerpt when the host told a mom not to support her young son when he wanted to play with Barbies.

  • He Was Sued For Defamation

    Unhappy Dr. Phil guests often claim that the show's footage of them was deceptive or edited in a way to make them appear in a negative light. Some guests mention this on air but McGraw always defends the stylistic choices of his staff. Some guests go a few steps further and initiate legal action.

    Two brothers, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, appear on the Dr. Phil episode about Natalee Holloway's disappearance. The show seems to suggest that the Kalpoes were involved with the disappearance even though they were never charged with a crime. Unsurprisingly, the brothers sued the show for defamation, but the charges were eventually dismissed.

  • He Spoke Publicly About Britney Spears's Breakdown

    The world watched with concern and fascination when Britney Spears had a very public mental breakdown in 2007. The Spears family contacted Dr. Phil to see if he could provide some insight and guidance. They sought Dr. Phil, though, not his show. 

    He showed up at Spears's hospital amid a flood of cameras and talked openly to the press about the pop star's health. The Spears family fired back, stating:

    The family basically extended an invitation of trust for him to come in as a resource to support them, not to go out and make public statements... Any statement publicly that he made, because he was brought in under this cloak of trust, (is) just inappropriate... He was not invited to make this part of a public display or part of the media.

  • He Bailed A Teenage Offender Out Of Jail So He Could Interview Her

    In 2008, a YouTube video of multiple girls brutally beating another teen went viral and sent shockwaves around the nation. Mercedes Nichols was one of the attackers, and she was being held on about $30,000 bond for her actions. Not to be deterred, Dr. Phil's show bailed her out for an interview. News of the incident leaked, and show producers decided not to air any segments about the assault. 

    The program's spokeswoman blamed some of the show's employees, saying:

    We have helped guests and potential guests in the past when they need financial assistance to come on the show. In this case, certain staff members went beyond our guidelines (re: the bail being paid). These staff members have been reprimanded and our policies reiterated. In addition, we have decided not to go forward with the story as our guidelines have been compromised.