Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology


Utilizing in-depth research and analysis, this volume debunks the quick fixes and simplistic explanations of Dr. Phil McGraw. While he’s watched and revered by millions, no critique exists for his daytime advice—and like much of “pop psychology,” his counsel is often ineffective, leaving people feeling like failures and that something is wrong with them. Readers will easily identify with the guests and stories from actual Dr. Phil episodes, on topics ranging from anger, sex, addictions, and dieting to domestic ...
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Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology

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Utilizing in-depth research and analysis, this volume debunks the quick fixes and simplistic explanations of Dr. Phil McGraw. While he’s watched and revered by millions, no critique exists for his daytime advice—and like much of “pop psychology,” his counsel is often ineffective, leaving people feeling like failures and that something is wrong with them. Readers will easily identify with the guests and stories from actual Dr. Phil episodes, on topics ranging from anger, sex, addictions, and dieting to domestic violence, race, and gender. A powerful, love-based alternative psychology is then offered, basing itself on the belief that there is profound meaning in people’s struggles. Story after story shows how people’s difficulties are seeds of their unique beauty, power, and intelligence, elevating rather than diminishing their esteem. The insight and compassion for people’s humanity provided here cuts through the easy soundbites and will leave people feeling a genuine love for who they really are.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Teacher, counselor, attorney, and organizational consultant Bedrick provides alternative approaches to mainstream psychology, using television personality Dr. Phil as a paradigm for all that is wrong with conventional methods. Bedrick advocates instead for a "love-based psychology," which "views people, including their disturbing feelings and behaviors, as a reflection of nature’s diversity." This approach garners methods from many disciplines including process-oriented psychology, quantum physics, and Zen Buddhism. Bedrick explicates major topics in psychology including dieting, addiction, relationships, and gender roles. For each topic Bedrick uses an episode of Dr. Phil as an example and then demonstrates how his own methods would better resolve the situation. While Bedrick makes some salient points about the pitfalls of taking advice from the likes of Dr. Phil, his own anecdotes can be less convincing. The book is also rigidly structured around episodes of Dr. Phil—which proves initially a good gimmick, but eventually grows tiresome. Surely alternatives to the likes of Dr. Phil are needed, and some aspects of Bedrick’s love-based psychology are indeed appealing.
From the Publisher

“David Bedrick takes on Dr. Phil in an intelligent, sensitive way that readers will find enlightening and validating. He uses Dr. Phil as a foil to give expression to a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of hot issues like race, gender, diet, sex, and power relationships. Here is the anti–Dr. Phil—at last, someone who can stand up knowledgeably to Dr. Phil’s suave bullying.”  —Robert W. Fuller, PhD, author, Somebodies and Nobodies

“At last someone is taking on Dr. Phil with good sense and great humor. Life isn’t a sixty-minute show where people just come in for the laying on of hands. Life is about working it all out with family, community, and love. Good for Mr. Bedrick to decide to pull off the gloves and have an emotional slugfest with an over-the-high-school bully. Talking Back to Dr. Phil is a must read. But not at dinnertime . . . you’ll be laughing too hard to eat.”  —Nikki Giovanni, author, Love Poems

“David Bedrick understands that real change or transformation requires challenging accepted dogma and then approaching problems with compassion and curiosity. A great advocate for stopping the madness of body hatred and dieting.”  —Jane R. Hirschmann and Carol H. Munter, authors, Overcoming Overeating

“David Bedrick gets it right. He isn’t talking back just to Dr. Phil but to a whole century of normative psychology, an approach to mental health that has more to do with socialization than with well-being. Bedrick adds a crucial missing piece to the equation: love. Not just ordinary love but love of our uniqueness, diversity, and struggles—a kind of love sorely missing in mainstream psychology. A modern-day Walt Whitman, Bedrick sings the beauty of our humanity and exhorts us to do the same, to prize the deepest levels of our diversity and express the many wonderful, crazy, and colorful ways there are of being human.”  —Julie Diamond, PhD, coauthor, A Path Made by Walking

“David Bedrick contrasts mainstream psychology with a new approach based on love and radical belief. Mainstream psychology tells us we are sick, bad, or wrong. But for Bedrick our fatigues, aches, pains, anxieties, low moods, and even the difficulties we encounter in our jobs and relationships are all growing opportunities without which we would not develop more awareness. I agree with Bedrick that our sickness deserves our love because it contains the medicine toward our wholeness and well-being.”  —Pierre Morin, MD, PhD, coauthor, Inside Coma

“This groundbreaking book demystifies mainstream psychology by calling out Dr. Phil, showing not only the limitations of his approach, which seeks to restore and maintain ‘normal’ behavior, but how it perpetuates a mode of psychologizing that reinforces the very pathology it purports to heal. David Bedrick reveals symptoms as allies assisting in growth and insight rather than as signs of sickness or deviations from a norm. And rather than focus only on individuals, he demonstrates how society fosters disturbances that, when processed, contribute to transforming not only the individuals but their relationships, groups, and potentially society itself. As such, Bedrick offers new directions for addressing some of the most perplexing issues of our time, from lying and pornography to addiction and racism.”  —Herbert D. Long, ThD, Dipl. PW, former dean and Francis Greenwood Peabody lecturer, Harvard University

“For many women, it is revolutionary to realize that what will silence the accusatory inner body-image voice isn’t losing weight but rather listening to the body’s wisdom. It could definitely be said that the essays on diet and body image in this book are a work of spirit through and through.”  —Andrea Hollingsworth, PhD, assistant professor of Christian thought, Berry College

“A breath of fresh air to those who have been hurt and put down by the righteous morality and shame of popular psychology. Bedrick, in daring to pull back the veil of the status quo, reveals an approach that invites self-discovery, finds meaning and purpose in problems, and values the social challenges of our times. Anyone who longs for the freedom of their own individual path of heart will be uplifted by this book.”   —Dawn Menken, PhD, author, Speak Out! Talking about Love, Sex and Eternity

Library Journal
Attorney, counselor, educator, and organizational consultant Bedrick explains an intriguing new approach to psychological treatment. His love-based psychology considers disturbed feelings and behaviors to be reflections of human diversity; he aims to help people find meaning and power in difficulty. This contrasts with his view of mainstream psychology’s focus on correcting individuals’ inadequacies or pathologies without helping them achieve deep, personal transformation. Bedrick compares the mainstream approach with his own methodology using various problems and issues raised in episodes of the Dr. Phil television show.

Verdict While smartly presented and accessible to lay readers, Bedrick’s discussion of his approach to psychological treatment is better suited to practicing professionals, though the author’s lack of clinical credentials may lessen his authority among experts. The questionable integrity of the Dr. Phil show, including episodes in which psychic con men James Van Praagh and John Edward claimed they could talk to dead people and Dr. McGraw didn’t challenge them, will enhance the level of scrutiny.—Dale Farris, Groves, TX

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780985266707
  • Publisher: Belly Song Press
  • Publication date: 2/5/2013
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 816,596
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

David Bedrick, JD, Dipl. PW, is an educator, counselor, and attorney, having taught in organizations including the U.S. Navy, 3M, the American Society of Training and Development, and the Process Work Institute. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dr. Arnold Mindell, PhD, is a therapist in private practice and the author of 20 books, including Dreambody, Quantum Mind, and The Shaman’s Body.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Arnold Mindell, Ph.D xiii

Introduction xv

Part I Labeling, Lies, Judgment, and Anger

Call Me Crazy: Is Psychology Making Us Sick? 3

Cocreating Dishonesty: Sex, Lies, and Psychology 15

In the Shadow of Our Judgments: Ethics and Psychology 26

Anger: Befriending the Beast 37

Part II Relationships

Having It Out: Sustainable Alternatives to Compromise 50

Relationship Conflict: What's Gender Got to Do with It? 61

Rank Dynamics: The Anatomy of an Affair 71

Part III Diets and Body Image

Married to Dieting: Banking on Failure 82

Dieting As an American Koan: Zen and the Art of Weight Loss 93

Can I Get a Witness? Taking a Stand against Assaults on Body Image 101

Part IV Addictions and Obsessions

Substances As Allies: The Urge for Altered States 108

Making Me Over: Obsessing about Obsessions 119

Part V Diversity

All Together Now: Appreciating Family Diversity 132

Passion through the Ages: Sex and Shame 146

Breaking It Down: Black Youths, Sports, and Education 157

Part VI Domestic Violence

Don't We Look Happy? The Silence around Domestic Violence 168

Let Suffering Speak: Bearing Witness to Domestic Violence 176

Notes 182

Bibliography 191

Index 198

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