Phibbing, Philandering, Phil?

by Samantha Adams

Phil McGraw dominates the headlines yet again, but who is he, really?  He was born in Oklahoma in a town where I went to
school, even though I was born in Texas.  Knowing that Phil lived all over the place and hearing him claim to be a Texan
just...well, it chapped my backside.  That's the first thing that made me wonder what he was hiding.  When he talked publicly
about his meeting with Britney Spears, his ethics were in question.  When he claimed he was the one who decided to cancel
the show with Britney Spears' family, after the family had so publicly pulled the plug, his sincerity was in question.  After reading
a few articles, I realized I was looking at a jigsaw puzzle with bits of information scattered all over the place in different
interviews given at different times.  Individually, they only revealed a certain aspect of Phil's life; whatever suited the topic at
hand.  However, when the puzzle pieces are put together, a new, clearer big picture emerges prompting questions about myths
surrounding Dr. Phil:

Myth #1  Dr. Phil is a Texan.
Myth #2  Dr. Phil is from a small town.
Myth #3  His first marriage to his high school sweetheart ended with a mutual parting of the ways.
Myth #4  After a football injury in Tulsa, he transferred to Texas college and continued his education.
Myth #5  Robin Jameson McGraw was his college sweetheart.
Myth #6  He boldly closed his practice in 1989 because he was unhappy and wanted to do more.
Myth #7  He is a licensed psychologist.

Before diving into these myths, a little background information is necessary.  The following summary is based on excerpts
taken directly form interviews given by Dr. Phil, his current wife, Robin, and his ex-wife, Debbie Higgins McCall.  Supplemental
facts were obtained from government agencies or acknowledged news sources.  

Phillip Calvin McGraw was born in Vinita, Oklahoma September 1, 1950.
A CNN transcript puts Dr. Phil in Oklahoma, by his own
account, at the age of four. According to the
minutes of a City Council meeting in Lakewood, Colorado, Dr. Phil attended
"Belmar Elementary and lived on South Everett Street."  He told
Reader's Digest in April of 2005 he lived in Denver in Grades
4-6 while his father, an alcoholic, sold drill bits to oil drilling companies.  His father quit or got fired and decided to pursue a
degree in psychology. The elder McGraw was accepted at the University of Oklahoma, so he quit drinking and the family
moved to Oklahoma City.  After his father got his PhD, Phil and his father moved to Mission, Kansas, part of the Kansas City
metro, for Mr. McGraw's internship.    

Phil went to school and played football in Mission, Kansas.  His high school sweetheart, Debbie Higgins (McCall) was a
cheerleader. In a
rare interview, she reveals the they both graduated in 1968.  She went to Southwest Missouri State in
Springfield, while Phil went to the University of Tulsa on a football scholarship.  She could only afford one year of collage, so
after that year, she returned home to Roeland Park, Kansas. Phil had also moved closer to family after a football injury.  His
father had begun practicing psychology in Texas, so Phil moved to Texas.  Phil asked Debbie to move to Lubbock, where he
had taken a job at a health spa. In November of 1970 they returned to Roeland Park to get married in Debbie's childhood
church.  Eventually, they moved to Topeka, where Phil built and owned a health spa. The marriage ended when friends and
neighbors questioned his commitment to the marriage. "When I confronted him about his infidelities he didn't deny these girls
and told me that it had nothing to do with his feelings toward me, to grow up, that's the way it was in the world," McCall said.
She left him in 1973 and moved back to Kansas City.

On August 14, 1976, in Denton, Texas, Dr. Phil married Robin J. Jameson of Duncan, Oklahoma.  She is oftentimes referred to
as Dr. Phil's college sweetheart.  In an
interview with Goodhousekeeping, in the current edition, Robin said, "Phillip and I were
together two and a half, almost three, years before we got married, and we used that entire time to learn."  In another
with Hour of Power on October 8, 2006, Robin says, "And we will we have now been married 30 years. And we've been
together 34 years, but in August it was 30 years that we've been married."

In a
CNN Interview, Dr. Phil explained his reasons for leaving the psychology field:  "I didn't like what I was doing, that was a gut
check because I was making an awful lot of money doing it. And I had a talk with myself. I said, you know, you've been spewing
all this all these years bucko, let's just see if you'll put your money where your mouth is and stop doing what you don't like

So, assuming the above is correct, let's get back to those myths, now.

Myth #1  Dr. Phil is a Texan.  Phil often harkens back to his southern youth and is partial to predicating a slang term with the
phrase, "Now, I'm a Texan."  However, in interviews, Phil talks about living in Oklahoma as a small child, then Colorado, then
Oklahoma City, then Kansas City (Mission) then Tulsa.  An article in the
Dallas Observer claims by the age of 11 Phil was
spending summers in Texas, driving trucks and flying planes.  However, the story does not reveal a source, and Phil has
stated in interviews (see summary) he lived in Colorado or Oklahoma at that age. Let's say, for argument's sake, he did spend
a few summers with his grandfather in Texas.  Does that really make him a Texan?  It doesn't appear Phil spent any substantial
time in Texas until he was practically an adult.  

So, where did he get all those quaint southern sayings?  According to the article in the
Dallas Observer, perhaps from a former
business partner, Thelma Box.  They had a seminar business together (that ended badly) and the sayings Phil uses today
were reportedly taken right out of the program, for which she was instrumental.  And that accent?  Based on personal
experience living in Oklahoma and in Texas, I can attest that the accents are very similar.

Myth #2  Dr. Phil is from a small town.  Phil was born in a small town, but he spent most of his life growing up in big cities -
Denver, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Tulsa.  

Myth #3  His first marriage to his high school sweetheart ended with a mutual parting of the ways.  Not even close,
according to his first wife, who claims she left him because of his infidelity.  

Myth #4  After a football injury in Tulsa, he transferred to Texas college and continued his education.  This
statement appears in almost every biography of Phil.  It implies that he transferred directly from Tulsa to a college in Texas and
continued his education.  However, if reports from his first wife are accurate, Phil went into the health spa business and the
couple lived in Kansas.  The "transfer" took about three years.  During that time he narrowly escaped charges for his
questionable business practices.  His health spa schemes reportedly ripped off so many people, laws were rewritten to change
the rules in Kansas for running health spas.  Phil ended up leaving town in the middle of the night to escape his financial and
mounting legal problems.  Many other schemes have surfaced over the years according to
these stories from various sources.

Myth #5  Robin Jameson McGraw was his college sweetheart.
 I have searched, and I can find no evidence that Robin
attended college anywhere at any time.  Based on statements she has given in interviews, it appears she and Phil became a
couple in 1972; and Phil wasn't in college during that time, either.  Robin turned 18 in 1972, and Phil turned 22.  Both McGraws
have talked openly on Dr. Phil's show about being together for a while before they were married.  In the
Good Housekeeping
interview, Robin claims they were together "two and a half, almost three years" before they married in 1976.  That nudged the
fringe of his first marriage.  In the 2006 interview with
Hour of Power, Robin stated they had been married 30 years, but they
had been together 34 years.  In 2006, if they had been together for 34 years, that would place the origin of their relationship in
1972.  Phil was married to Debbie Higgins from 1970 to 1973.  Debbie claims she left Phil because of his infidelity.   

Myth #6  He boldly closed his practice in 1989 because he was unhappy and wanted to do more.  We all now know
the real story behind what happened in 1989 with the "inappropriate dual relationship" with a 19-year-old female patient.  It's
been well documented.  Ironically, this was the year he claims psychology became monotonous to him and he had his "gut
check" moment when he decided to take the bold leap to close his practice and do something else.  What a coincidence.  

Myth #7  He is a licensed psychologist.  (See #6)  He never completed the terms required to have his license reinstated.
He is hasn't been licensed to practice psychology anywhere since 1989.

Allegations about Dr. Phil abound across the Internet over shady business dealings, problems with his father, infidelity and
slick maneuvering in business.  If any of this is true, there are serious credibility problems here.  Have we all been conned?  
Could it be that Dr. Phil is not really a person, but merely a role played by a named Phillip McGraw who has no psychology
license?  He seems to have an answer for everything that puts him on top.  In the face of adversity, he has the ability to finagle
a situation to make it look like he has made the right decision, and he is in control (a la the Britney show).   Perhaps while
trying to find his place in life, he stumbled upon a persona that worked and made seminars in Texas a success.  Maybe this
persona gave him the charisma he needed to be a star, but it needed a matching background to justify the southern sayings
and a deep accent that were crucial to his success.  Maybe Dr. Phil reminds us every chance he gets that he is from Texas,
because he's reminding himself that he is this larger-than-life Texan persona called Dr. Phil.  If this is true, it's a shame.  Phillip
McGraw could really some advice from Dr. Phil right now.  GET REAL.

Samantha Adams
Dr. Phil - Phacts or Phiction?
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