Seuss. Scholl’s. Feelgood. Let’s add another name to that hallowed list of famous doctors: Phillip McGraw, a Texas psychologist who made a name for himself dispensing tough love on Oprah and now advises America to ”get real” on his own hit syndicated daytime talk show, Dr. Phil. He’ll appear May 3 on Sesame Street with his puppet alter ego, Dr. Feel, prompting us to wonder: Would Phil consider our stupid questions mere child’s play? Analyze this.
First of all, am I talking with Dr. Phil or Dr. Feel? Is there any difference?
I’m taller. He’s more warm and fuzzy, literally. And I don’t have a stick…well, I won’t say where.
In your latest best-seller, The Ultimate Weight Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom, you say that people need to follow a rigid multistep program to shed pounds. Couldn’t you just invite them to a taping and zap their fat away with your giant brain?
Yeah, but then where are you gonna put it all? If you get ‘em all in there and zap their fat away, you got Fat River at your studio.
In your professional opinion, which Sesame Street character has the biggest issues: Cookie Monster with his binge eating, Oscar with his obsessive-compulsive hoarding, or Bert with his anal-retentive neatness?
I would say Oscar. He just needs to get his garbage in order. I mean, the guy would bitch if he was hung with a new rope. But I guess if you live in a garbage can, the smell makes you a little irritable.
What are you hiding behind that mustache?
Look, if you have no more hair than I do, you’ll take it where you can grow it. I’m thinking if I can grow the mustache long enough, maybe I could have a huge comb-over.
In 2001, People magazine named you the Sexiest Self-Help Guru. Later that year, you, along with Rosie O’Donnell and Jimmy Carter, were one of its 25 Most Intriguing People. How does it feel to go from sexy to intriguing?
That’s just another word for sexy. Women like guys that are intriguing, right? They like a little mystery. Plus, intriguing can last longer than sexy. You can only be sexy for so long and then you start looking like you’ve been under the porch for three weeks, but you can be intriguing up till you’re 90 or something.
Here’s a Dr. Phil nugget of wisdom I found on the Web: ”Don’t waste your time and energy analyzing the problem; rather, spend your time finding a solution to the problem. Analysis is paralysis.” Why do you think you said that? Maybe because it rhymed?
It does rhyme. Don’t you think that’s good? I probably heard somebody smart say that, so when they’re not around, I take credit for it.
Do you consider each one of these questions its own little cry for help?
Absolutely. It is a desperate admission of pathology. It is clear evidence of a toxic personality run amok. [Pause] Don’t you feel inspired? Now go be happy. Just don’t multiply.