The Dr. Phil Show first aired in 2002 and now 17 years later they celebrate 3,000 episodes this week. Throughout the year Dr. Phil has helped thousands of people around the world and for this special milestone he will be revisited by some classic guests.
CBS Local’s Matt Weiss spoke to Dr. Phil ahead of episode 3,000 to discuss the impact of being on television for almost two decades, returning guests and some of the people who have helped shape his legendary career.
MW: Dr. Phil, good morning, how are you?
Dr. P: Good morning, Matt!
MW: Congratulations first off, this week marks 17 year that The Dr. Phil Show has been are airing on TV. What’s the biggest difference that you’ve found as the world has changed over the last 17 years in doing your show?
Dr. P: You know when we started back in 2002, 3,000 episodes ago, there were no smart phones, there was no Instagram, Facebook, Twitter none of those platforms existed and now they are so prominent, so dominant in people’s lives that we’ve really had to adapt and meet people where they are. That also means dealing with cyber bullying, all this electronic dating, all of the scams that come out over the internet, all of the things that people are so engaged with in their lives because it’s changed the way we interact socially.
People don’t have the same social skills they used to; they don’t make the eye contact they used to. They don’t have the same connection they once did because now it’s all e-mails, texts, Facebook posts, things like that. We really lost some of the human connection that we once had. So we’re having to deal with that. We’ve had to learn and adapt and help people deal with those issues.
MW: As you said now we have social media, podcasts, all kinds of digital media. Do you find that you get a lot more interactions with people who watch your show through those various mediums?
Dr. P: Well we do and that’s what we want to do. We don’t want the show to stop at the 60th minute. We want people to be able to continue to have access to the content, access to the information and the help. We’ve really worked to increase our digital footprint, whether it’s on YouTube or our home website or podcasts, information that we want people to have at their fingertips. If somebody is looking for help they need at crisis point in their life, we want them to know how to find it.
MW: We touched on this at the beginning but now we’re onto your 3,000th episode, an incredible milestone, and you’re going to be having some of your past guests return. That group of returning guests includes a set of anorexic twins, whose lives were changed for the better because of your interaction with them. Can you tell us a little about their story and how they’re doing today?
Dr. P: Well if people will remember, these are identical twin girls that their parents brought them because they were literally on death’s door. They were experiencing organ shut down, dehydration, such lethargy because they had no strength or energy. The truth is they really were in danger of dying. Their parents were afraid they were going to find them dead in their beds; they were in and out of the hospitals. Now several years on they listened, they took the help.
They come back now and they both gained over 40 pounds; they’ve reclaimed their lives. One of them is a general manager at a restaurant and the other one is pursuing a career as an EMT. They’re getting along with each other. They have social lives, interests, friends and it’s so gratifying, Matt, to see people that you work so hard with that agree to take the help, that embrace that help. Stories like these inspire so many people that are watching because they say ‘Wow! If they can do it maybe I can do it, so I’m not going to give up, I’m going to keep putting one foot in front of the other.’ That’s what it’s all about, every guest is a teaching tool.
MW: You’ve helped so many people throughout the years, hundreds, thousands even. Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your career on your life? You’ve been able to help so many people, who’s someone you look at that’s really helped you?
Dr. P: Well, I have a variety of people that have shaped my beliefs and my value system. One of the most powerful books I’ve read was Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. My major professor in college, Dr. Frank Lawless, who was my dissertation director 45 years ago, is a chairman of my advisory board on The Dr. Phil Show now; he and I have been together for 45 years. Dr. Lawless trained me as a psychologist back in graduate school and we’ve remained in contact and worked for the last 45 years.
I have people in my life that contributed every step of the way. I have to say I have the best team in television. Now I know everybody says that, but I have to say I really mean that. I’ve got the same executive producer I started with, I’ve got the same supervising producers I started with, I’ve got the same camera men I started with. We’ve really become a family and everybody has stayed together across all of these years.
MW: That’s so nice to hear, it’s rare to see that kind of consistency. Thank you so much for speaking with me today Dr. Phil. Congratulations again, 17 years, 3000 episodes, you’ve helped so many people and it’s been great to watch.
Dr. P: Thank you, Matt, I really appreciate it!
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