Sunday, November 20, 2016

Here's a Professional Who's Forgotten about his Oath


Vivian Kubrick, the filmmaker and daughter of the great Director Stanley Kubrick, tweets that she "recoils in disgust." 
I share her revulsion. 

Last Wednesday, the "Dr. Phil " TV show teased a segment that would run on Friday's show. I'm posting this today because I didn't want to put up anything that would get more viewers to turn into the actual show. 

Actress Shelly Duvall is not mentally well and Dr. Phil decided to pay her a visit. He claims the purpose was to help her, but is there any doubt that the only one who will really benefit from the house call will be Dr. Phil and his TV show's ratings? 


There is a long history of performers in Hollywood being exploited when they hit hard times, from Bela Lugosi to Margot Kidder. Unfortunately, it’s part of our species' biological nature to gossip, to pay close attention to the ups and downs of the people we know; and even show passionate interest in the personal lives of people we think we know through the media - actors, singers, or athletes. I believe Hollywood performers often suffer the most from this mental vice because of another species' wide pre-disposition -- a desire/dream to become rich and/or famous by performing in front of the camera. This is of course the hidden explanation that lies behind the popularity of reality shows. 
None of the above excuses the exploitation of Shelly Duvall. And Dr. Phil's video segment is especially nauseating because Mental Illness in this country still has not turned the corner to becoming a disease that is handled with compassion by the general populace and serious attention by the decision makers who deal with the health care in this country. 
During the production of the movie, The Shining, Vivian Kubrick shot an amazing production documentary that ended up being a rare glimpse of her father at work. This is obviously where Vivian's connection with Shelly Duvall began. Forty years later, Vivian is not only crying foul on twitter, but also raising money to help pay for the real medical help Ms. Duvall desperately needs. 
It’s easy to forget that Dr. Phil McGraw is a licensed doctor, not just the host of a popular TV show. Upon becoming a practicing physician, Dr. Phil swore not to violate the Hippocratic oath. One of the sections in the modern version of the oath reads, “I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know.” And there’s a part in the ancient version of the oath that reads, “Practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient.” 
Hey, Doc, interviewing a mentally ill person in front of cameras and a crew, then broadcasting your “treatment” of her to millions of TV viewers seems like it should be classified as “harm,” even if your actions are not specifically covered in the DSM.