Dr. Phil Check-in: Give Thanks for Your Family — at Least Your Father's Not 'The Breast-Pump Bandit'

On Wednesday’s Thanksgiving-eve installment of Dr. Phil, our titular truth-bomb-dropper was determined to find what might qualify as rock bottom for his latest guest, hapless enabler Laura. “Maybe it’s a house covered in blood, a urine-filled vase and a woman running around high!” he said enthusiastically, before cutting to commercial.

“Wait just a second, though,” I thought to myself. “Wasn’t Laura’s personal nadir the moment the local press nicknamed her (now ex-) husband John “The Breast-Pump Bandit”? (John got the name because of his penchant for shoplifting the maternity products, then selling them online for cash.)

These are the kind of questions that — for better or for worse — take root in one’s brain as The Great Mustache of Judgment and Derision airs other people’s filthy laundry for our personal viewing pleasure, then washes it all down with a few spoonfuls of common-sense advice (and a plug for his latest New York Times best-seller or handy app).

Among the highlights (or, to be more accurate, low points) of Wednesday’s episode:

* In case you wanted to tweet about it, Dr. Phil included the handy hashtag “#ParentalDrama.”

* Dr. Phil‘s camera crew followed John as he borrowed $80 from Laura, drove to his drug dealer’s to buy Xanax and crack, then smoked up in Laura’s closet. Did I mention Laura had allowed John to move back home, take over her bed (relegating her to the couch), and pawn her laptop, phone, TV and bicycle? Oh, he also loaned her car to his dealer — who promptly ran down an octogenarian and left the vehicle totaled.

* John blamed lack of support from their daughter Lauren — with whom he’d regularly partied, physically abused and traumatized during her teenage years — for triggering his drug use.

* Dr. Phil finally listed dozens of John’s bad acts on a giant screen as a way of showing Laura there was no transgression she wouldn’t eventually overlook. “I’d put more up here, but I’ve only got 37 feet of screen!” he roared.

* Finally, after giving Laura a soft diagnosis of “dependent personality disorder,” Dr. Phil offered John the chance to be admitted into the Pat Moore Foundation for treatment of his substance abuse, seeing as there was “not one chance in hell” he’d get clean without help. He also promised follow-up help for Laura and Laurel — which seemed like the minimum payment for subjecting themselves to such unthinkable public scrutiny.

* All’s well that ends well, though: Dr. Phil rounded out the the hour by bringing back a former guest named Heather, who’d lost her will to live after the death of her mother and teenage daughter. With the help of his 20/20 Diet book and Dr. Phil app, she’d lost 8 lbs in two weeks!

Did you watch this week’s Dr. Phil? Does his brand of “expose and scold” leave you a little queasy? Sound off in the comments!

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