Dr. Phil’s Fun With Felons: Couple Charged After Bragging About Life of Crime on Television Show

49368919The perils of being on Dr. Phil. Matthew Eaton, 34, and his wife, Laura, 26, appeared on the “Dr. Phil Show” and bragged about how they shoplifted and then sold stolen items on the Internet. The parents of three young children boasted how they had made as much as $1 million. Now, they can go back on talk about how they were arrested after going on Dr. Phil.

On the show, Phil McGraw says in a faux innocent voice, “I’m no lawyer or a cop,but isn’t that a federal crime?” Indeed, it is Dr. Phil, though some of his colleagues would add that he is not much of a psychologist either, here. While McGraw once said, “I’m not the Hush-Puppies, pipe and ‘Let’s talk about your mother’ kind of psychologist,'” doctors feel that he is not like any real psychologist by parading freaks for fun. They feel about the same about his show as lawyers feel about Judge Judy and Judge Brown.

225px-Phil_1Notably, in a nightmare for any criminal defense lawyer, Laura responded, “Yeah, it is.” That was helpful.

A federal grand jury has now indicted the couple and the video of the show is now a criminal exhibit.

Joining the video in the courtroom will be over 500 boxes of toys and other things were carted off from their home in suburban San Marcos.

Methinks a plea is in order. A jury is not going to be particularly happy to hear the couple talk about how they used their children as decoys: “Sometimes we just kind of go in together as a nice little family to make it seem like we’re normal people, and we don’t look like the kind of people that steal. We have our kids with us, and they usually always buy it.”


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50 thoughts on “Dr. Phil’s Fun With Felons: Couple Charged After Bragging About Life of Crime on Television Show”

  1. Billy,
    The essence of a tool relates to how it is used. The DSM is overused clinically and that too me is problematic.

    What historical data do you have that substantiates your allegation?”

    First case in point check out the history of the diagnosis of homosexuality. In the original iterations of first the ICD and then the DSM I & 2 is was classified as a personality disorder.
    Came DSM III and it was removed as a disorder. While I think that was a good thing why did it take until the late 1970’s to make the change. If you look at the history of the various DSM iterations you will find that things got put in or out based the power and standing of certain members of the overall community. Who got put on committees was decided by politics and popularity, not necessarily by rigid scientific standards.

    Secondly is what I call the “diagnoses de jour syndrome.” Certain diagnoses are popular at given times and get used much more than others at those times. When I was in training in the late 70’s the popular diagnosis was Borderline Personality Disorder and mental institutions were putting this label on many a patient. About when I retired in the early 2000’s the people I was getting from Psych all seemed to be diagnosed with “Bi-Polar Disorder” and much fewer “Borderlines” were to be seen. The spike in diagnoses of autism (throughout as you know its wide spectrum) has almost caught up with ADHD. I feel very strongly that ADHD diagnoses and to a lesser degree autism diagnoses are very problemmatic. They are based primarily on children in the school system and many come about because of teacher initiated reports. My biggest problem with that is the rise in medication being used.

    Now I must admit that ADHD concerns me personally because if they were making that diagnoses when I was in Elementary School they would have pinned it on me and if that was today tried to medicate me.. I was a self taught reader who was at a high school reading level in second grade, a college freshman in fourth grade and off the charts in sixth grade. School bored me stiff and because of it I tended to act out to alleviate the boredom. There were no gifted public schools available and my parents couldn’t afford a private school. Our entire Public School system is stultifying in most places and I can only imagine how many kids get labelled and drugged to make it seem as if they’re the problem, when the system is.

    You also can never underestimate the impact psychopharmaceutical programs have on the profession and consequently on people who create the DSM. I’ve worked with private mental hospitals where the drug companies and their various clinical studies run the show. The drug companies fund the research and that’s where the money is. The researchers get well-known appear at conventions and get appointed to DSM review boards and voila.


    Check out this webpage alone for a good sense of where the diagnostic criteria for Borderline are. My money is with Marsha Linehan, I’ve read her stuff and seen the positive effect of DBT treatment on patients in both an in and outpatient settings. If I were starting out training today it would be in DBT/CBT. I think it makes a lot of sense and can be a really effective tool. I also appreciate the proactive methodology.

    As you seem to know this a topic where you literally need to write books to explain a personal viewpoint. I’m retired and more interested in politics and sociology so I’m not writing any books, but I hope this helps you to st least make your own assessment of where I’m coming from.

  2. As a “statistical manual” its’ use is for diagnosing behaviors and disorders presented at time of admission. Psychotherapeutic modalities of treatment employed on an out patient basis are not “presented” within the framework of the manual, nor should they be.

  3. Mike, I think you are a very bright and fascinating man. I am a bit perplexed about your post. You stated, “DSM is not about rigorous scientific standards, but is one that caves into special interest groups and psychopharmaceutical firms; and because of this you found their diagnostic standards less than helpful”. What historical data do you have that substantiates your allegation? I would very much like to review this, as a fellow social-scientist. Also, you stated that you found their diagnostic standards less than helpful. As a psychotherapist, I assume you found “some” merit in their methodology as it relates to the best clinical information available at the time of its’ publication. Some information is more conceptual in nature and because of this, the empirical use of its’ literature is more limited. Still, as a diagnostic manual it is a marvelous tool, when used to collect and define statistical information. The nomenclature that the book provides is used primarily for diagnosing inpatients with psychiatric and neurological disorders. It is not perfect, but well worth using, and nothing better is available. As a “true” diagnostic manual of mental disorders, it is nothing to be pooh-poohed.

  4. In regards to DSM 4 TR, it is only “one” diagnostic tool. It also has been revised a few times. I understand a new “DSM 5” may be debuting in the next half decade or so, maybe sooner..

  5. I totally agree Mike, there are many, many undiagnosed sociopaths, slithering through our legal and political arenas’ totally unrestrained and leaving little trails of “destruction” in there wake…

  6. I agree Mike, Psychiatrists seldom if ever do any “counseling” with a client/patient, and usually resort to the use of chemical restraints to modify behavior, all to quickly. The “system” pushes them to do this like most other medicare/HMO driven care providers. The projection of there “own” problems or neurosis is another issue. Unfortunately, when dealing with sociopathy, you are dealing with a mental health issue that can be deleterious to society as a whole, sometimes “shockingly”. This is why “the system”, e.g. courts, law enforcement etc. has to play the”proactive” role they do, because these individuals threaten the well being of our society, as opposed to a garden variety “psychotic”, who is really only hurting themself if untreated..

  7. Mespo,
    A delicious bit of satire, that runs too close to the truth, as all great satire should.

  8. Billy,
    I agree with you that sociopathy represents a great threat to society. I do believe though that many who succeed in politics or business are sociopathic. I am an Institute Trained Psychotherapist, one who was in private practice for 20 years and who spent his last 6 years (way after the practice)of work, running programs for the dually diagnosed, working directly with inpatient Psychiatric facilities by providing living and casework services to people released into the care of my programs.

    My problem though is that the DSM and its’ diagnostic standards are political in the sense of the internal politics of psychology. Although the DSM is purported to maintain rigorous scientific standards its history is hardly that and more one of caving in to interest groups and psycho-pharmeceutical firms. So to me their diagnostic standards were at times less than helpful.

    Second, most Psychiatric Facilities (inpatient)rely on a diagnoses of the patient that is usually made “in extremis” and upon admission. These diagnoses are rarely updated as the patient progresses and the true nature of their symptoms becomes more apparent. The patient too becomes their diagnoses, since the institution has named it and that slows the process of therapeutic intervention.(i.e. I’m bi-polar, so what can you do?) Diagnoses are really shorthand so one MH professional can consult with or discuss a patient, without long explanations. The problem is the devil in the details that get missed often when using such shorthand. A diagnoses should be a fluid thing, updated and refined as more information about the patient becomes available.

    Finally, to me one of the biggest unseen problems is that many Psychiatrists, the ones needed to prescribe psychopharmacology have not been trained as therapists. They view the patient strictly in psychopharmalogical terms and have little interest in either the therapy, or the negative sociological effect of the medication prescribed. (i.e. Giving a woman who brokedown after her husband left her for another, medication that causes her to gain 40 pounds, compounding the woman’s problems and her chances of resolving them) Psychiatrists too are often very influenced by the Detail personnel of Drug companies and many times literally bribed by them to prescribe their medication. It is also common knowledge in the field that a good number of Psychiatrists themselves have severe neurotic problems that go untreated and thus project things onto their patients. I have personally dealt with many like that and interviewed many, many more for positions with my programs. With many it was just astounding as to just the surface problems they exhibited.

    All this said, I’m not against therapy or psychopharmacology, I just think they need to be looked at with a more jaundiced eye and that their pronouncements should not be taken at face value.

  9. Byron,

    All I have to say is “Midnight Run”. Just replace Charles Grodin with a really annoying wife character.

  10. Mespo:

    that was great. But aren’t you forgetting the Defiant Ones? Now that actually would make a good reality TV show. A husband and wife chained together trying to escape the law. They might re-title it the Nagging One.

  11. Well our sticky-fingered couple can exit stage right from “Dr. Phil’s” show and enter stage left on Judge Judy’s mock up of the judicial system. Then they can move right on over to “Lock-Up” to be “Scared Straight,” and ultimately to be featured on “America’s Most Wanted.” If they flee, they can expect to be hounded by “Dog-The Bounty Hunter,” and if they really rate, they can be tracked by Tommy Lee Jones who will conduct a “hard-target search, of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area!”

    Ah, fame and stardom.

  12. Thank you, anonymously yours. This is another example of his “possible” ASPD. Hmmmmm..

  13. billy et al,

    Look at the great state of Iowa and Dr. Phil. He was running from creditors when he came to Texas. At that time no UJEA, now its a piece of cake. Thanks GeoI.

  14. For the record, I don’t consider Dr. Phil a psychotherapist, he is not one! Due to some of his past indiscretions, one may speculate that a little ASPD may be “bubbling” just beneath his sport coat and silk tie. Hmmmm, I wonder..

  15. Dredd, the individuals starring on Dr. Phil are some of psychotherapists biggest and most sought after challenges! Individuals with antisocial personality disorder have both a history of conduct disorder in youth and a pattern of severely irresponsible and socially threatening behavior that persists into adulthood. They may present in a variety of treatment settings, depending on their particular mixture of criminal behavior and clinical psychopathology. They may be inmates in a prison or correctional institution, inpatients in a psychiatric hospital or outpatients in a clinic or private practice. Often, therapeutic recommendations are really an ultimatum for seeking treatment or else losing a job or maybe being expelled from school. Courts may offer convicted felons a choice-go to therapy or jail, I have been present when this is going down! The choice is to most often go to therapy. In many cases, probation is contingent on the their attendance in psychotherapy. These individuals create problems for the broader society because sociopathy incorporates criminal acts that threaten or injure people and property. This is not a “parlor game”..

  16. Dredd,
    Followed your link an agreed with much. Actually that is why I stopped practicing about 15 years ago, I was running a training group for people who wanted to learn the technique I trained in. The requirement was that they were already practicing therapists. 75% of the people in the group had major unresolved issues of their own and yet were running successful practices. This disturbed me.

    The other problem is in this consumer driven culture people go to Therapists to help them cope better while they want to retain the same neuroses that brought them to therapy. I came to realize that it wasn’t about how good a therapist you were, it was about the patient’s commitment to change. Those committed to change got what they needed out of it, like myself. Those expecting a “cure” from the therapist without their own effort, just kept going for years and years. Since the latter was far in the majority I decided to stop practicing because I didn’t want to take peoples money under false pretenses.

  17. For the record, her name is “Barbara” DeAngelis, not Beverly, she along with ex-husband John Grey are both “bogus” shrinks, and are listed on “quackwatch”. My mistake I believe Barb is on hubby number “6”, she continues to churn out those books, and lines up the boobcatchers at Barnes and Nobles by the bushel-full.

  18. Based upon my knowledge of Dr. Grey and Bevery DeAngelis, I am not certain they would refer to themselves as “life coaches”, nor would I. Even this requires a skill-set, that necessitated an actual education in order to work in that arena. I like to think of them as “shrewd and clever booksellers”, both have sold millions worldwide, in fact Beverly is now or was married to Doug Henning, the magician, if I am not mistaken.

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