Dear Reader, Get A Life

Today's talk show therapists and edgy advice columnists are bolder, and possibly more effective, than the genteel advisers of newspapers past.

By Pamela Paul, published on July 1, 2003 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

You complain that your boyfriend lies to you. "Is this your 'victim
story'?" Dr. Phil asks you warily.

Your boyfriend admits to lying. "Is this something you do because
you're gutless?" Dr. Phil sneers at him.

You want some advice? "Tell him, 'I'm not taking this from you
anymore!'" Dr. Phil commands.

Mr. Manners he's not. Whether you're overweight, overworked or
undersexed, Dr. Phil--host of his own top-rated TV talk show, advice
columnist in O, The Oprah Magazine, best-selling author and full-throttle
public personality--knows what's best and he's not afraid to tell you.
Dr. Phil issues counsel as marching orders, and despite fiery disapproval
from the chattering classes and many in the mental health community, his
readers, viewers and even chagrined on-air guests love him for it.

Dr. Phil, aka Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist
turned courtroom consultant turned Oprah-anointed self-help guru, didn't
create the demand for quick-fix media therapy--he answered it. Dr. Phil
is a far cry from the earnest concern of Ann Landers or the measured
cluck-clucking of Dear Abby and their hospitable brand of social
guidance. Perhaps the death last summer of Eppie Lederer (aka "Ask Ann
Landers") sealed the fate of the old-school advice columnist.

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