“While this kind of protest song may seem irrational to some, my ears hear a beauty and power in it as well.”—David Bedrick (Talking Back to Dr. Phil)
The task David Bedrick undertakes in the book Talking Back to Dr. Phil is not a small one by any means. The mission, which he clearly has accepted, is to infuse modern psychology with “new blood” by taking mainstream psychology and its current golden-boy television representative, Dr. Phil McGraw, to task.
Is such a thing as flipping the switch of critical thinking and automatic acceptance in regard to Dr. Phil’s celebrated “get real” approach to problem-solving––so frequently endorsed by media queen Oprah Winfrey herself––really possible? If it is, then the strategy employed––respectfully so–– in Talking Back to Dr. Phil is perhaps the best one to accomplish such a formidable job.
The 206-page book is comprised of 6 parts containing a total of 17 short essay chapters and a foreword by Dr. Arnold Mindell, who in the 1970s pioneered the development of process-oriented psychology. The major sections address these critical issues:
- Labeling, Lies, Judgment, and Anger
- Diets and Body Image
- Addictions and Obsessions
- Domestic Violence
The basic difference between Dr. Phil’s approach to psychology, as articulated by Bedrick, and his own approach to it is also fundamental to his discussions of the above topics. In short, the mainstream approach to psychology is one more designed to help people viewed as out of synch with dominant modes of conduct or thinking adjust their behavior to accommodate the expectations and emotional comfort of others. Among its primary failures, Bedrick maintains, is that it “ignores the role psychology can play in helping people find meaning and power in their difficulties…”
By contrast: utilizing principles of process-oriented psychology and his extensive work as a counselor, educator, and attorney for a springboard, Bedrick presents his Jungian-influenced alternative in the form of a “love-based psychology.” Does this mean he’s suggesting his compassion for the sufferings of humanity are greater than the esteemed Dr. Phil’s? No. But it does mean he is suggesting his approach to psychological healing takes into account serious factors that mainstream psychology generally does not.
Principles of Love and Healing
Bedrick in fact provides a set of 7 principles that define a love-based psychology. Many undoubtedly will consider each of them controversial to one extent or another.
Among these principles is the author's contention that the dominant culture within society––in the form of social prejudice and/or injustices––often plays a contributing but unacknowledged role in debilitating personal anguish. This particular observation may be a big part of the reason Americans seem less than eager to confront head-on the current epidemic of murders stemming from a lack of effective gun control measures. It is well known that a tremendous problem behind the more ostensible disgrace of murdered human beings is the lack of resources committed to mental health; yet relatively little has been done to correct this.
NEXT: Counselor Calls for Major Change in Talking Back to Dr. Phil (part 3): The Book Review Continues
co-author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
and ELEMENTAL The Power of Illuminated Love
Exploring Worlds of Alternative Perspectives
- Counselor Calls for Major Change in Talking Back to Dr. Phil (Part 1)
- Love-Based Psychology According to David Bedrick
- Follow David Bedrick on Twitter
- Arnold Mindell and Process Oriented Psychology
- Catching up with Our Humanity
- Sampler of Dubious Guerrilla Decontextualization Ethics
- Guerrilla Decontextualization and King of Pop Michael Jackson