Celebrity psychologist Phil McGraw is facing a wave of criticism after he claimed on Fox News that the statewide shutdowns due to the coronavirus are more deadly than the virus itself.
Mr. McGraw, better known as Dr. Phil, appeared on “The Ingraham Angle” Thursday to discuss how anxiety and depression are affecting Americans as they isolate themselves in their homes.
“This is invisible,” he said. “I can’t show you an X-ray of depression, I can’t show you an X-ray of anxiety, but the fact of the matter is, the longer this lockdown goes on, the more vulnerable people get.
“And it’s like there’s a tipping point,” he continued. “There’s a point at which people start having enough problems in lockdown that it will actually create more destruction and actually more death across time than the actual virus will itself.”
Mr. McGraw compared deaths from the coronavirus to automobile deaths, smoking-related deaths and swimming pool deaths, “but we don’t shut the country down for that,” he argued.
“The fallout is going to last for years because people’s lives are being destroyed,” he said.
“People that suffer from loneliness, they become 29 percent more likely to have coronary artery disease, 32 percent more likely to have strokes or die, 40 percent more likely to have dementia if they’re in that age group,” he continued. “So it’s not just that it’s psychological. Their bodies actually start breaking down.
“So we think we’re protecting people’s lives by keeping them locked up,” he said. “You keep them locked up long enough, there’s a paradoxical effect. You actually destroy more lives than you do by letting them go out and protect themselves and opt into their lives to fight for what they believe in.”
Mr. McGraw also said children are suffering because parents aren’t trained to be teachers, especially when they have the “hammer hanging over their head that the economy is crashing around their ears.”
“There were 10,000 people that showed up in San Antonio over the weekend for the food bank,” he said. “People who used to be volunteering are now in line getting food at the food bank. Ten thousand people. And these are people who don’t want to be there, they don’t need to be there.”
Mr. McGraw was excoriated for the comments and his name became a top trending topic on Twitter Friday morning. He was also criticized for falsely claiming there are 360,000 “swimming pool deaths” a year. He did not respond to the backlash.
I think we should call him “Mr. Phil” from now on.— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) April 17, 2020
Dr. Phil is an entertainer. He hosts a show. Sometimes he makes sense sometimes not. We shouldn’t assume TV hosts know more than scientists. Like you wouldn’t ask the host of The Apprentice for life and death advice. https://t.co/as2tmT7oQB— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) April 17, 2020
This statement from Dr. Phil is stupid. None of the things he mentions is contagious.— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 17, 2020
Also, the case fatality rate of #COVID19 is over 4% in US. If 4% of people who routinely went swimming would die & 15% would end up in the hospital, I guarantee Dr. Phil would not go swimming. https://t.co/UmOx7QBtkH
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