Another Toxic Talk Show: ‘Dr. Phil’ Staff Describes Set As ‘Traumatizing’

Wikimedia Commons, by Angela George

Mental health daytime talk show, “Dr. Phil,” has been described as a “war zone” by former employees who had “nightmares” about their jobs and were driven into therapy to cope.

“It was traumatizing,” an anonymous ex-staffer said. “There was full-blown yelling, calling people idiots and slamming doors, and it would not be acceptable in any other job in any other business. Then, after, everybody’s upset and everybody’s crying.”

Executive producer Carla Pennington has been accused of abusing lower-level employees with screaming outbursts that made the workplace so “miserable,” that there was “palpable dread and anxiety” on the set.

’Dr. Phil’ — the show about mental health where everybody who works on it has terrible mental health because our work conditions were really bad,” a former staffer remarked. 

“I would have nightmares,” said another. “Even when I quit, I had to go to therapy for it, which is crazy because you’re working for a therapist.”

Dr. Phil McGraw, 71, is a clinical psychologist who holds a Ph.D., rather than an M.D., and isn’t licensed to practice, but has made millions dispensing “Phil-isms” to troubled guests and their nearest and dearest on CBS for the last twenty years.  

He has not been implicated as a source of the abuse, but other disturbing allegations have been made against his show’s managing team of producers. 

Guests have accused staffers of manipulating the “mentally vulnerable people” the show is purported to help by pushing them to drink and take drugs to amp up their “crazy” for audience’s enjoyment. 

Employees were reportedly instructed to “dissuade” problematic guests from taking their psychiatric drugs prior to taping. “For the sake of TV they wanted [guests] to look off the rails,” an ex-employee noted.  

“If you complain to HR, you might as well expect to be fired,” the staffer said. “They will do anything and everything they can to keep anything under wraps.”

McGraw’s attorney “categorically” denied the allegations and said that Dr. Phil stands behind his producing team.  

“Carla does not behave inappropriately. She has the complete confidence of Dr. McGraw,” the statement said. “She is beloved by her staff personally and respected professionally. The allegations against her are absurd and demonstrably false.”

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