Sign up for the Dr. Phil Newsletter
Twitter Facebook YouTube

2013 Shows

 
Amanda says she’s often paralyzed by fear, afraid to open the blinds and in a constant state of heightened anxiety and isolation in her own home -- all because of the trauma she says she experienced for three years at the hands of her stalker, Michael. Amanda says when she met Michael at a barbecue in 2009, they exchanged email addresses and had a casual correspondence for almost a year -- but then things took a strange turn. She says Michael began emailing her more than 20 times a day -- oftentimes professing his love, despite them never dating -- and also providing specific details about her life, indicating that he was watching her. Amanda says he would also show up at her house, and she would hide in terror, while he left gifts on her doorstep. Although Michael is currently behind bars, Amanda says he continues to harass her through anger-fueled letters mailed from jail, in violation of her protective order. When Dr. Phil confronts Michael via phone, how does he explain his actions? And, Michael’s father, Charles, weighs in. How can he get his son help while he’s incarcerated?

Find out what happened on the show.
Comments
Replied By: clive_canhome on Oct 5, 2013, 2:00AM - In reply to nette71
You can try the CTV network in Canada if CBS can't be received in Australia. But there is likely either a CBS enabled network there for the Internet or a regional Australian network that airs Dr Phil and allows watching videos of these episodes (with commercials, of course).


Good luck.


S.M.
 
Replied By: nette71 on Oct 4, 2013, 5:13PM
It's hard to comment on this story unless you've been through what Amanda is going through.  I have who is in jail for 13 years for the same thing.  Amanda's story and mine are almost identical, but the man was my husband.  Like Amanda I was being harrassed by my ex even after he went to prison. He is still finding was to stalk me and control me from behind bars. I havw moved on and have since re married, but my ex is due to be released next year and I am so worried about it.  Even the judge said he is obsessed with me.  

I only caught the tail end of this show and have beem able to see a couple of short clips on you tube/  I'm in Australia and the episode only aired yesterday.  Does anyone know where i can view the full episode online? I would be very interested in seeing the whole thing.  Thank you.
 
Replied By: clive_canhome on Sep 25, 2013, 3:54PM - In reply to gessbcuz
I agree that it isn’t always about ‘looks’. The way we appear is not always about how pretty our faces are; they include one’s voice, their stature or height, the way one dresses, how one walks, race, or even comparisons to other persons in the common media.  I think that we weren’t given enough information in the show to judge Amanda and Michael’s past. I do also agree with you that Michael’s fixation may have started due to her being nice or sympathetic to him. I don’t think that this should discourage others from compassion but think that in some of these cases, people often give in to their emotional sympathy towards others by doing things in private with them that they would feel shameful to admit to doing in the presence of others for fear of what others would think of them. It could be as simple as a gesture of friendliness that they would not normally offer such a person in an open setting. And I think it is may be done in pity to some degree.

The ‘nerd’ example was only meant to show how we come to conclusions regarding reality to justify our treatment of others – not as any means to connect intelligence of a ‘nerd’ to predators. I apologize if this is how you interpreted it. We often give too much credit and weight to our identities based on our individual determination and forget how our environment plays a more significant role. While it is easy to point to an individual for absolute fault, it is not an accurate picture of reality. Take today’s show with DMX as a guest, for instance. When Dr Phil asked him what he saw in his past pictures relating to how he sees his success, he asked him at one point if he thought it unusual at all to have come from a statistically unlikely background of success, DMX responded that he didn’t …that he felt he was destined to be who he was. In other words, he doesn’t grant anything to luck within his environment and took the credit completely to his own self-determination. This seems to be a common explanation for many successful individuals; they often discredit the environment as giving them value and tend to look at other’s failures as depending more on their lack of will power.

Of course not everyone who has poor environmental factors turn out to be bad. Even apparently good ones can be destructive if one gets ‘spoiled’ into believing that the rest of some future environment should fit to the expectations of their past or present ‘good’ ones. I think that understanding intellectually how our environments sincerely affect us, however, enables us to challenge those behaviors that we are individually accountable to others. Placing such people with problems in a black box and labeling it, “mental illness”, doesn’t solve the problem though. It is just an attempt to keep them at a distance, alienates them, and adds fodder to their anger towards society.

I hope that you can at least forgive your brother-in-law. I think that understanding him is the best means for you to get past your fears of others and empowers you better to handle future possible situations. I believe in the Take Back the Night campaigns meant to encourage others such as yourself not to live in fear. There are many other kinds of predators other than just stalkers out there. We can’t live in response to fears of them. But making sense of them as people too who deserve the same rights and treatment as we expect of ourselves, we can begin to foster better citizens and  do our part to stop ignoring those apparently insignificant attitudes we often impose on others.

 
Replied By: gessbcuz on Sep 24, 2013, 5:10PM - In reply to clive_canhome
 
I think in Amanda's situation you can't really say that she avoided Micheal because of the way he looked, I think she tried to be friends with him for a while before she noticed anything different about his behavior. I don't remember exactly why she said she didn't want to see him anymore, but I think she said that they had communicated for at least six months. She wasn't attracted to him but you can't automatically assume that it was because of his looks & if she had thought that he was creepy looking I don't think she would have even bothered to talk to him at all.
I also think that Micheal's fixation with her started because she was nice to him in some way like maybe she was sympathetic to him or she was supportive of him in some way and he mistook her intentions. I don't think it was because of the way she looked. I think that he liked the way she made him feel, and that she herself didn't actually matter for him. Micheal lives in a world where other people don't matter, its all about him.
It is a common stereotype, the “nerd” trying to gain the attention of an attractive person, but you do legit nerds a big disservice when you compare them to stalkers. I think it over simplifies the issue when you start trying to organize people into a category. Not all stalkers are nerdy and I think its safe to say that most nerds wouldn’t bother to stalk someone. Just because a stalkers able to find out everything about you right down to your blood type, doesn't make them smart necessary, it would imply that they're motivated.
In my experience, if someones unpopular, its because of the way they act. Yeah a person might be unattractive but if they're funny or intelligent they're bringing something to the table. The same thing goes for an attractive person, you can only look at someone for so long, after awhile you start to expect them to do or say some thing interesting. If an unattractive person spends a lot of time complaining about how bad they have it then they're probably a bore and it wouldn't be surprising that no one likes them.
I tried to look on the internet for some examples of someone who was accused of stalking who wasn't weird looking and I was unsuccessful. My brother in-law was normal looking (I'll put up a picture of him) and I wouldn't have thought that he would have been that way. Something about him made me uncomfortable sometimes, even before I knew that he was stalking me. He wasn't unpopular either, he had friends. He had girlfriends.
I don't believe it's just environmental, that may be part of it but it isn't the actual reason. I think it has to be a combination of things for someone to become that way. A lot of people are bullied and picked on in school. People get rejected all the time. Not every one who got a raw deal in life turns into a stalker.
 
Replied By: clive_canhome on Sep 23, 2013, 4:07PM - In reply to gessbcuz
Like I said before, I don't know your situation as you do. Here, in my province, we have a very good stalking law. At least, I like the way it is written.

"Criminal Harassment

It is a criminal offence for anyone to make you reasonably fear for your safety or the safety of someone you know by ...

      - repeatedly following you or someone you know

      - repeatedly visiting, calling, writing or contacting you or someone you know

      - watching your home or workplace

      - threatening you or someone in your family

No actual injury need occur. The offender does not need to have intended to harm you. If their behaviour would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety, it is criminal harassment. ..."

This law requires justification for why any reasonable person should fear and can be determined on a case by case situation.

The law alone, however, is an expedient and isn't meant to address the underlying social issues that contribute to them. It should be noted that most cases of stalking usually involve actual intimate or familiar relationships that have turned sour. It is highly unusual for stalking to occur in relations that had no previous personal familiarity with the victim. Also, the motives of the perpetrator is not at issue. That is, whether the perpetrator has a reasonable justification or not for their behavior is irrelevant.

So nothing in the law determines whether a perpetrator is 'sick' or necessarily irrational by any means let alone having a mental illness. But I can't help but notice for notable cases, such as the one that this episode of Dr Phil shows, including the one with the lady in a previous 'stalking' show, seemed to have a "creep" factor to their natural appearances which most people would stereotypically fear before they could even speak their first words! In fact, I wouldn't doubt that the FBI has a profile that demonstrates this is so. It certainly doesn't come as any surprise that these very same cases usually involve unusually above average looks for the victims. It begs the question: Is the nature of the presumed mentally ill due to their true mental capacity or is it a result of how the environment treats them?

Example: I heard this explanation given for why 'nerds' are more likely to wear glasses from a person who wouldn't consider herself one by far: Because nerds like to read and often take jobs involving computers, their eyesight is diminished due to the strains involved and therefore, nerds often end up having to wear glasses!

More likely explanation: Evolution gave them the misfortune of having bad eyesight. As a kid, the other kids tend to avoid them as they wear glasses which suggests that they can't play as freely as everyone else. So such kids, lacking the same interaction with others, tend to turn to doing things that are more solitary, which may include reading and sitting in front of the computer by themselves. They tend to have a better chance to learn more regarding academic or worldly things and thus, become 'nerds'.

My point is that we are all responsible for how some people turn out as good people while others turn bad by how we attend to one another. It is hard, if not impossible, to pinpoint any one person to be at "fault" for the harms we do when they involve things like neglect or ignorance. The bystander effect is well known in psychology. If you fell down in a crowded street in New York, it is very possible that you could lie there dying and no one would so much as call the police. A recent example of this is people who have cell phones who all video an incident without so much as one person stopping to call 911!
 
Replied By: gessbcuz on Sep 23, 2013, 11:42AM - In reply to clive_canhome
  I understand that you think my brother in-law was a tragic victim of his emotions. That if I’d helped him sort thru his "crush" on me, than everything would have been different and we all would have lived happily ever after, but unfortunately that’s not true. When he wasn't stalking me he was stalking other women.

A long time ago, before I knew he was stalking me, he was at my apartment talking to my husband. I usually didn't talk to him, because he gave off a vibe and I didn’t want to encourage him. He was telling my husband that he was driving into the parking lot of the apartment complex where he lived and a woman threw rocks at his car. I thought it was strange so I asked him questions about it, like why was she throwing rocks at him? He said he didn't know. So I said “so this woman, who you don't know is just throwing rocks at your car for no reason”? He said “yeah. I don't know why she was did it”. It was like talking to a four year old about why a cookie was missing. He had a few stories like that. Supposedly he met a woman at the laundromat and set up a date with her at his apartment. He said that when she came over they had dinner and were planning to go to a movie but he had to cut the date short because she started hitting him with this decorative walking stick that he had hanging on his wall. Again I thought it was weird so I asked him if he thought she was joking or why she did it? He said he didn't know why she had hit him and that he didn't do anything to provoke her. There are a few other stories just like that. I don't know what happened but I do know that he didn't get attacked by two different women for no reason.

So even if I had sat him down and explained to him all the things that he should have already known, It wouldn't have helped him anyway. He had a history of stalking. One part of his story was probably true, he probably didn't understand why those women were angry. Because he didn't have strong grasp on reality and things that make sense for normal people don't make sense for him.

I actually feel sorry for you and I hope you don't ever become a victim of stalking because you seem naive. You can't talk a person out of being obsessed because obsession is a form of mental illness, even if it seems like something romantic. It isn't. It's just a person who’s fixated & can't control their behavior. Maybe saying he's a lunatic sounds derogatory because it's pejorative. Saying hes a lunatic is just a different way of saying he's mentally ill. I think its kind of suspicious that you seem to take exception to me calling him that. There’s a saying that people like to use: The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.

I understand that for you it doesn't make sense, because for whatever reason you want to see it as a crush or some kind of romantic thing but it isn't, It's stalking, which is a crime. I don't know what the laws are like in Canada, but in America we usually try to take things like stalking seriously. People who engage in stalking behavior do hurt themselves, they do hurt other people. I don't think anti-stalking laws were common in most states until the 80's, but its getting better. Stalking is just one of those things that doesn’t make sense for some people. When it started happening to me, I had to do a lot of research to understand it & Its still confounding for me. I probably can't help you to understand what stalking is any better than you do, and you have your opinions, but your opinion doesn’t change reality. I do think its interesting that you feel its inappropriate to be afraid of some one who would break in to someones home or show disregard to the law or a another persons civil liberty’s. Is that because you believe that stalkers act like that for reasons that other people probably wouldn't understand? Maybe they mean the attention in a nice way?
 
Replied By: clive_canhome on Sep 23, 2013, 7:51AM - In reply to gessbcuz
I understand that your brother-in-law is out of the picture. But you still have a remnant from his existence that affects you today. Namely, fear. If you could learn to see how his mindset operated without obscuring it in 'lunacy', then it would empower you by enabling you to handle any future possible situations and relieve you of the unnecessary fear that causes you discomfort. Some of that fear is good in that I do think that it is wise to use precautionary measures like home security and means of personal protection. But at the same time, I think you place yourself in a more hazzardous position when you only perceive such people as crazy lunatics. Your very innappropriate fears under certain conditions is no different than running into a wild animal in the woods: when another animal senses fear in another, it is instinctive for them to be aggressive.

I'll give you a simple example. I had a cat who tried to befriend a pet gerbel. The gerbel's means of initiating friendship is to nibble without actually biting. So he nibbled her paw but she interpreted agressively and jumped out of his enclosure (I had the gerbel in an open enclosed area to run freely.) Ever since, when my cat came close, the gerbel would lunge at her and she'd run away in fear. It was the act of fear itself that conditioned the gerbel to behave accordingly. It was as if he was saying, "if you act as though you fear me, you offend my friendly nature, and so I'll give you a real reason to fear me."

It's your choice to choose how you want to interpret others. But by simply labeling the other as insane because it doesn't favor your sense of normalcy, then you have to accept the consequences of your own behavior to judge reality. Perhaps you might ask yourself this: if someone were to call you insane or crazy for anything you sincerely believed you had a normal capacity to judge, how would you react toward that person? Now add that the person who is making the judgement is someone you believed in or found meaningful to you. Maybe at first you might just chose to walk away and go elsewhere because you have the confidence that there are others who would not treat you in the same way. But if this continued to occur you would eventually lose your confidence and begin to try to listen to what others are saying, that perhaps you are just simply 'crazy'. Now it might seem that one plus one equals two to you, but those around you are telling you that it equals three and thus proves why you are in fact, crazy. So now, how would you behave?
 
Replied By: gessbcuz on Sep 22, 2013, 7:44PM - In reply to clive_canhome
  I don’t know what you meant by the whole murder thing or if you even actually answered my question but there aren’t different degrees of meaning when someone says no. Especially if the police have been or are involved. It means that someone is being serious. They’re not playing hard to get, they’re just not interested and they don't want your attention or whatever you want to call it. You can't be around someone just because you want to.

My brother in-laws dead. Hes not coming back either so it doesn’t really matter what I say, it's not going to change anything. If he shot himself because he was upset that the world didn't revolve around him and people didn't drop everything they were doing to deal his issues, then that's too bad for him. That's the problem with stalkers, they really do believe that they’re entitled to attention and that the world owes them something. He certainly thought he was above the law and what I said didn't matter even though his actions were affecting my life.

It's actually the law that gives me “more supremacy to demand that your environment be immune from responsibilities”, no one's morally, ethically, or legally required to take responsibility for a stalker. That’s what the police are for. Why? Because stalkers are dangerous and crazy. Most stalkers are like “well the law doesn’t apply to me because I want something and those laws are in my way so I’m just going to break them for as long as possible or until I get caught” & “I can be around you if I want, because your opinion doesn't matter”.

When his father called him weird it was because he was trying to be honest. My brother in-law had a history of behavior that would lead anyone who knew about it to call him weird. He didn't need to pretend like he was normal, why should he? Because hes his father? Of course, for the longest time I didn't know what he was talking about, until he started stalking me.

He didn't respect anyone or any thing. The fact that I was his brothers wife didn't mean anything to him. That should have mattered to him, it would've mattered to a normal person.

Punishment is the goal because its appropriate. Punishment is for a person who's done something wrong and they deserve it. You know who doesn’t like Punishment? People who break the rules.

 
Replied By: clive_canhome on Sep 21, 2013, 1:45PM - In reply to gessbcuz
No. I do have personal motives for this type of situation though because I know quite a few women who actually do prefer select men to stalk them and strongly believe in the game of using words which appear to oppose them directly as their own means of control. At present, I know of one girl who I know to be like this from her personally and we ended up in a particular relationship for which she suddenly broke it off without explanation. Although I’ve tried a few times to contact her indirectly, she hasn’t responded and I have so far refused to go to her in person to attempt reconciliation because I believe that regardless of whether this is what she may want of me to do, in my eyes, the risk upon me if I’m wrong is what would appear as stalking. It is as if she wants me to take that risk. And although this is rational, it is precisely the attitude that I philosophically have a problem with in hearing about problems relating to stalking.

This isn’t the only time I’ve run into women who feel this way. Nor do I think that it is merely an issue that has potential cause for victimization for women alone. What bothers me about trusting that the legality involving such harassment represents the reality is that our society teaches that this very behavior is acceptable in logically similar situations that get high praise when they are successful and desired but frowned upon in others without proper distinction.

The other issue that I relate to is the misunderstanding of what mental illness means. It is clear to me that you do not understand what it is. Mental illness to you is something where someone’s mind is insufficiently capable of logical reasoning. This is the false stereotype that most believe because it seems that should someone behave in an awkward way without the same standards of etiquette the average person does, it is easily confused that the person lacks a functioning capability to express themselves in a way that provides a logical reason in the mind of the observer. Mental illness, however, is not usually intrinsic in the lack of capability to reason logically because such real failure within neurons is almost too catastrophic to operate at all should it be true. It is the hormones or interspatial chemistry between neurons that affect how one’s neurons behave appropriately in an environment. It is that which causes emotions. And since the environment has a big impact on how they develop, I believe that our environment plays a more important role in the cause for mental illnesses.

I do not believe that you are ‘wrong’ for any of your beliefs or acts with respect to your brother-in-law. Just as I believe that he may have had a rational justification for his behavior, it follows that I believe that you do too. Similarly, Amanda is not at ‘fault’ for her feelings even if she should have derogatory personal motives or acts that lead to it. But the problem is that we are forcing the accountability for all possible real reasons for one’s behavior to be blamed on the stalker alone with none to the environment, including the one who is being stalked themselves. By declaring that all stalkers are merely insane belittles any possible real reason for their behavior and transfers the load of responsibility to the legal system to sort out. They are forced to create laws such as, “if a person says ‘no’, it must be interpreted literally as such”. But we have no penalty for those who use it to communicate in differing contexts that were meant to motivate other behavior; we also do not punish those in such cases for using it in these different ways that lead to success.  That is, the rule ignores the semantics of how one says something and so doesn’t care about the truth of the intended meaning. So it only becomes functionally useful as a legal tool to criminalize those who “good” people do not like even while they expect that same behavior from those they like (other “good” people).

“As for my brother in-law, understanding that he was mentally ill doesn’t obligate me to feel any particular way for him….”

I respectfully disagree. If he has to suck up his reality no matter how bad it could be, what gives you more supremacy to demand that your environment be immune from responsibilities? And he happened to be your husband’s brother! While you may choose to believe that all individuals are responsible for their successes or failures, this is simply not true. I am also not simply advocating co-dependency as a virtue. That is, if you define it as the condition such that one person depends uniquely on one person without reciprocation. Inter-dependency, on the other hand, is the reality within the environment that we all are subject to regardless of how much credit we prefer to denote to ourselves.

It may not be fair that you had to be a target that caused you to fear. But other than having them simply be prevented from harming you, you either pass the buck onto some other unfortunate person, or you suggest that they should be made virtually non-existent: locked up or dead. The other option would be to have an active role in aiding them and others like them to improve their conditions so that they no longer have the problem. Too much work, right? So society at large is required to pay for their incarceration or some other misfortunate potential victim suffers.

You recognized that your brother-in-law had environmental realities that may have contributed to his behavior. You believe, however, that since his brother had not resulted in becoming just as problematic, his environment is insufficiently excusable. This is absolutely false. The environment constitutes how others specifically treat you as much as it does being in the same room as another who is present to witness it. Ironically, children who were treated better by a parent even if they witnessed that parent being unfair to a sibling, will more likely favor the parent over their sibling. You also pointed out how their father warned you of his ‘lunacy’. To me this indicates how his own perception of him likely had a contributing factor. That’s why I questioned Michael’s father’s sincerity. Dr Phil often points out how important it is for a parent to support their children unconditionally. Why should these be exceptions?

Note that when I suggest one to engage with their stalker, it is not in a way that placates them. The idea is to (a) be with at least some other person in their presence, and (b) be absolutely honest. In situations like Amanda, I would suggest creating an amnesty to any part that she may have played in their history, and provide a private consultation with him and professional and/or personal supporters present that can help him air out his frustrations and allow her to communicate in a calm and safe environment so that both can repair their unique problems: for her, her fears that affect other aspects of her life, and for him, a logical and emotional justification for why his behavior, even if with meaningful justification, can be resolved without such future behavior. Correction, not punishment, should be the goal. This doesn’t mean that they should have further involvement in the future. It should just be aimed to reduce the anxiety that both have and bring closure to the issue.

 
Replied By: clive_canhome on Sep 20, 2013, 8:01PM - In reply to gessbcuz
Let's say you witness someone slaughter your whole family but there is insufficient evidence to prove it in the eyes of the public. Out of emotional anger and frustration you decide to take justice in your own hands and approach this murderer in a relatively public place, hold a gun to his (or her) head, and pull the trigger. Now of course, we must recognize that the public would have only one course of action: arrest and convict you for murder. You would look like the lunatic in the public's eyes because the evidence doesn't support your claims. In fact, it could be that it only appeared that you alone had more reason to kill your family but there was not sufficient evidence to convict you either.

This may appear too extreme an example for comparison to a stalker but relative to his or her environment, this could be a reality. That is, to them, their real life experiences could be such that their integrity and values were 'murdered' by how society treated them. While it still doesn't justify their behavior relative to the eyes of society, it is still relatively just to that person unless something in their environment provides a way to resolve this.

In the case of the murderer of your family, if it was possible to demonstrate that such a person had relatively just cause for their behavior (maybe he or she was mentally incapacited or ill) or it was not the person (perhaps a twin or someone who looked similar), or even that some type of justice other than vengence is superior. Either way, any logical justification provides better relief and resolve than none at all. It is the reason we have Miranda rights: people have to be alerted to why they are being arrested and what rights they have so that it eases the real mental frustration that occurs from being encarcerated (punished) for what seems like an unknown cause. It isn't sufficient either for the police simply to say that they 'fear' you are dangerous and leave it at that. If you haven't given anyone to have a reason to be feared, it is more likely that you will act out in anger and actually give them the very reason to fear that they accused you of.
 
Showing 1-10 of total 95 Comments