Analyze this

From his seat on Oprah, Dallas' Dr. Phil McGraw reigns as the king of quick fixes for troubled relationships. But what about his own?

When Thelma Box watched McGraw on Oprah, she couldn't believe he was still using on her program many of the same ideas and techniques they had developed in their seminars together. So she phoned McGraw, asking whether he would send Oprah through the training or at least mention her seminar, now called Choices, on television. "I am still trying to change the world, one heart at a time," she says.

McGraw seemed receptive, she says, telling her they should schedule lunch to see where things might go. Things never went anywhere. They never had lunch. But Box thought she understood: "Phil has a real big need to make people believe he is the only person who can do what he does."

Life Law No. 1: "You either get it or you don't. Become one of those who gets it."

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Dr. Phil McGraw, far left, co-founded Courtroom Sciences Inc. in Dallas after quitting his silk-stocking psychology practice in Wichita Falls.
Mark Graham
Dr. Phil McGraw, far left, co-founded Courtroom Sciences Inc. in Dallas after quitting his silk-stocking psychology practice in Wichita Falls.

As the credits roll, Oprah and Dr. Phil stand side by side, facing the camera.

"I want to thank all my guests," she says. "We have books under the chairs for you -- you all need to read them if you are having trouble with your relationships, or wanting to make your relationship better, read his book. There is incredible information in that. I have a lot of respect for Phil; he is one of the smartest -- one of the smartest people I know." She looks up at him. "You are up there in the top five of the smartest."

McGraw puts his arm around Oprah and humbly bows his head. "Well, that's a good place to be."

"He is also going to be starting somewhat of a tour, because I told him to stop signing the books and just start helping the people," Oprah says.

Faint applause.

"He is going to be coming to your cities with seminars. I know you will be in Dallas..."

These weren't the seminars that Thelma Box had imagined, but rather seminars in the Tony Robbins sense of the word -- big, flashy affairs at pavilions holding thousands of people at $87 a pop. The stuff cultural gurus are made of. McGraw completes Oprah's thought. "I'll be in Dallas on May 20 and Chicago June 17."

Oprah becomes excited, animated. "I'm going to try to talk him into more cities," she says. "Maybe it will be Phil and the rock tour. We'll get a band. Check Oprah-dot-com to see if Phil will be doing full-day seminars in your city."

"It was all your idea," he says.

"It was my idea," she says, smiling.

It's obvious that McGraw gets it where Oprah is concerned. He's willing to give her credit for originating an idea, unlike he has with Thelma Box. Maybe going on Oprah can change your life after all.

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