Therapeutic Solutions, Disciplinary Ethics and Medical Truth on Self-Help TV
Keywords:Biopower, biopolitics, Dr. Phil, discipline, truth, self
This article will consider the use of therapy television – specifically the self-help television program The Dr. Phil Show – as a locus of government. Specifically, I will examine the ways in which ethics are addressed as biopolitical problems of the self through the often disciplinary instruction of the therapist. In this respect The Dr. Phil Show is representative of a shift in the talk show genre away from the tabloid model to a pedagogical model. Self-help talk shows are increasingly concerned with the cultivation of the soul, the production of truth and the discipline of the body. I demonstrate this by analyzing a series of Dr. Phil Show episodes centered on the confession and obesity, respectively. I emphasize the connection between TV expertise – here embodied in the discourse of the expert/therapist Dr. Phil McGraw – and neo-liberal goals requiring subjects to both care, and take responsibility, for themselves.
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