Friday, May 11, 2007

How to do Dr. Phil's job for him
Today I was watching this show where an obsessive husband tries to compensate for a lack of control in his life by maintaining absolute control over his wife. He gets panic attacks when he can't get in touch with her and if she ever speaks to a guy, the husband gets consumed with jealousy. The problem is that this guy is pretty smart, but he's delusional. He seems to be able to convince himself that his compulsive behavior is okay when panic overwhelms him.
The problem is that Dr. Phil wants him to go to a treatment facility that doesn't force him to stay or prevents him from doing any compulsive activity. I don't know what really goes on in there but it appears that he's somehow supposed to just refrain from his compulsive behavior. The guy probably convinces himself that this place is a farce and gets right back into his routine. I don't understand why people like Dr. Phil think they can talk some sense into him. Perhaps, Dr. Phil doesn't think he can either, but boy it sure does make good television to try! The guy thinks he's smarter than most people so if he thinks that he's smarter than the psychiatrists he's not gonna listen to a word they are saying. Then when he does encounter someone more intelligent, his delusions will set in and he'll just convince himself that he's smarter and justify leaving the program.
What I'm trying to say is that help can't really come from outside his head. People can only communicate with the rational side of his head. The problems lie in the irrational side, his irrational fears of losing control, a phobia! Do we ever see this guy treated as if his illness is a phobia? No! The most effective treatment for phobia to keep exposing him to his fears and keep restricting his compulsive behavior, yet they keep letting him believe that his wife will come back to him and they don't keep him from stalking her.
If I was Dr. Phil, I would have given him 2 choices for treatment. One would be faster, but would be increadibly difficult and painful (mentally), but would offer the best chance for saving his marriage or he can take the slow and easy approach that they gave him in the show. Then I say that if he really wanted to change he should take the first option, if he only wanted to do lip-service and jump right back into his old ways, then take the 2nd (What do you think he would agree to on national television?).
What's the first option? I have to warn you that this will sound quite draconian, but with intensity we get faster more direct results. This will involve plunging him into his worst fears. I would have him stripped of all control. He would be put in a straight jacket and tied to a bed. We'd play mind games on him, trying to convince him that his wife has left him, changed her identity and that it would be impossible for him to find her again. They would convince him that he signed away all his legal rights and now they could keep him here as long as they wanted, and that now nobody cares that he's in there. It would be horrendous mental torture to him. His body would probably go into convulsions and maybe even a heart attack and they might have to sedate him several times, but eventually his mind will stop making his body self-destruct and it will realize that the only "control" he really needs is control over his mind.