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Talking Back to Dr. Phil, Part 3–The Dr. David Bedrick Interview August 2, 2013

Posted by Onely in Celebrities, Guest Posts, Interviews.
Tags: , ,

Bedrick, David. Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology. (Belly Song Press, 2013).

Copious Readers, welcome to our ongoing series of interviews with Dr. David Bedrick, who proposes a “love-based psychology” that goes beyond the normative (restrictive) ideals that our society (as evidenced by Dr. Phil) puts upon people.

Bedrick’s approach parallels Onely’s efforts to dismantle normative prejudices against unmarried people. We disagree with the idea that couples (whether socially coupled or married) are “better” than single people, or more deserving of government protection.

Today’s Topic:  The Failures of “Fixing”

Onely: You comment on Dr. Phil’s extreme popularity, yet point out that There are no books reflecting on his counsel, critiquing his approach, or providing alternatives to his advice. (xxiv)

What challenges have you encountered in being effectively the first person to present a large-scale critique of such an ingrained cultural institution? (Dr. Bella DePaulo and Lisa and I hit numerous brick walls when we took on the underdiscussed-topic of marital status discrimination.)

Bedrick: While I have sent my book to Dr. Phil, I have had no response from him. However, many people are offended by some of the ideas I present.

The most provocative ideas are these:

1) I support people to not marginalize their unique individual selves. However, this means, as you have encountered, bumping into deep mainstream beliefs and morality. In fact, mainstream psychology has, as one of its functions, to foster mainstream morality even if that means looking at people who are different as sick or pathological. So, when I don’t condemn anger, try to ‘lift’ people out of depression, or help people become more “productive” then people take issue with me.

2) Our culture has taught us to ‘fix’ what disturbs us. That means to get people to return to what is considered normal. This orientation is so powerful that people will spend literally billions of dollars on programs to correct themselves even when these ‘fixes’ are not sustainable and may even injure/shame the person. So when I suggest that diet programs or addiction programs fail because the programs fail, not just the individuals, I meet great resistance- it threatens people’s sensibilities and hopes. There is a great investment individually, familialy, and culturally in having life look pretty, smiley, peaceful, and undisturbing; this makes real change incredibly difficult which almost always begins with a dis-orientation, a chaos that breaks down the prior order, and inner and outer conflict.


Copious Readers, has anyone ever tried to “fix” you? Have you ever tried to “fix” someone? Please also check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview series and let us know what you think!



1. y0 - August 3, 2013

…. while I appreciate 100% what David is saying, there are some things unique to some people that are very questionable.

If someone is a chronic hoarder then that’s OK. But what happens if it ends up being a safety risk for their neighbors, resulting in a high fire risk, for example?

Or what if a man and woman, who have a few kids, are into something really extreme like beastiality or other extreme behaviors tha their children see. Sure, they are free to do whatever they want behind closed doors (as long as it’s consenting and not illegal like killing) but what about the kids?

I’m sure there are other exxamples….

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