On Thursday April 19, 2012, Dr. Phil aired a show about veterans with PTSD. The title of the show has caused friction between him and the PTSD community.
The PTSD community knew that Dr. Phil was prepping a show about veterans with combat related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and they waited patiently and with hope that the show would help educate their communities on the invisible injury of war. Instead of airing a show that addressed real concerns and ways of helping veterans with PTSD, Dr. Phil chose to go with media sensationalism that many feel was motivated by the need for ratings and money. Their feelings were further validated by the title of the April 19th show, "From Heroes to Monsters?"
The show title was enough to set veterans and their caretakers off in rages of disbelief that they would once again have to face backlash from another negative portrayal in the media. The title, however, was not the only way Dr. Phil seemingly insulted families living with PTSD. The Dr. Phil staff picked two veterans who had some of the most extreme reactions to PTSD to be on air as well as a caretaker who was abused in horrific ways. The PTSD community acknowledged that some people do react in these extreme ways, but this is not the norm nor are these types of reactions purely from the PTSD. Many caretakers and veterans felt that the show had a poor sampling and did not address anything but the most hype-inducing realities of living with this illness.
The proof of the negative backlash is in the pudding of the commentary left on Dr. Phil's Facebook page with people chiming in that they were not sympathetic considering that Veterans knew they would be facing horrific realities and decided to join anyway. Some people on the Internet have even felt that veterans deserved PTSD because of the acts many are forced to commit in war. The setback in societal perception caused some veterans and caretakers to leave scathing remarks on Dr. Phil's Facebook page, some of which may have been deleted according to some veterans.
Last Thursday's show did more than leave a negative impression on the public, it also caused some veterans to become triggered. Veterans and caretakers got into arguments over some of the show's subjects while others were forced to remember things they wished they could forget. Still more were enraged by the lack of understanding and the further negative portrayal the show would leave all because of a need for ratings and to sell a product on the show. There were reports of veterans having to go to the hospital or the police being called because of them being a danger to themselves with suicidal thoughts.
The PTSD community is now calling on Dr. Phil to not only apologize but to change the title of last Thursday's show. Many have also claimed they will never watch his show again and feel that people should boycott Dr. Phil.