Pole Vaulting Over Ethical Boundaries with Dr. Phil

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Apparently people are not allowed to date, marry, or even be with a person with a different ability level than them. According to a recent Dr. Phil episode titled “I Swiped Right on My Quadriplegic Boyfriend,” the famous “therapist” starts off asking the couple featured, in whom the woman was able-bodied, questions. Dr. Phil slams her with the thought of why she a,”young, single, attractive female” despite the fact that she is not single, would want to date someone in a wheelchair. Ouch! In just one sentence, Dr. Phil has managed to completely de-humanize everyone who has a wheelchair. Let’s see if he can dig himself any deeper.

The couple, Harley and Bailey, goes on to explain their difficulty in accessing a good caretaker because of the rural place they live. Bailey even states that he never wanted or planned to have her become his caretaker. It was Harley, who because she loved him, started to help him because of the previously mentioned lack of access to good care. Now, I have seen a lot of people I follow, who have chosen to do this in their relationship. This includes a fellow friend who also has CFS/ME, is married, and advocates for his condition. Another person I know is Joe and his bride to be Lindsay from @joecrohnicles on Instagram where he advocates for Chron’s disease. There is also Lauren Tugwell with her husband from @endobunny on Instagram where she shares her daily life with endometriosis and advocates for her disease. These are only some of the people I know who completly refute Dr. Phil’s claims.

Dr. Phil does not stop there, no, he then goes on to insult Harley in the process. “There are a lot of people that can be his caretaker, but there are not a lot of people who can be his girlfriend and his lover,” replied Dr. Phil, “It’s not your job. You’re either going to be his lover or his caretaker. It’s way above your paygrade. You’re not skilled for that either.” That just stings! I do not understand the point that he was trying to make in this. The conversation goes from halfway flirting with Harley to straight out saying she is too dumb to even handle taking care of Bailey.

What is the point of Dr. Phil’s conversation here? Was it to make everyone who has a disability feel horrible about themselves? Surmising from the tweets that replied showing people’s personal inter-abled relationships and the success in which they have had, I would say his goal failed. I have been both a patient and a caretaker and let me tell you, that they are both equally as challenging. My chronic illnesses require needing my mom to be my full time caretaker, which will change to my spouse if and when I marry. I know the struggles it is to be the patient. The struggle of always feeling like a burden, wondering if you are truly loved, and wanting to be accepted for you.

I have also experienced the struggles of a caretaker as last fall, my mom had three major brain surgeries and I was there everyday at the hospital. I helped her go to the restroom, helped give her a bath, and when she got home, helped with pretty much everything. However, what I saw through my point of view, was love. I love my mom so much and it made me joyful to be able to do anything to help her get more comfortable or to feel better in any way. So, while I am not married to her, we do have in many ways, a marriage. There is still the give and take and compromises.

I am completely flabbergasted that these words were even spoken to this couple. It shows the strength that stigma still has on the disability community. Stigma that does not need to be there. So if you are reading this right now, just know that whatever your situation, you are loved and appreciated. I love and appreciate you! People can say some harmful things whether speaking out of ignorance or just misplaced intentions. Do not let them settle on you. You know who you are and absolutely no one can take that away from you!

Thank you for reading this important post! What are your thoughts on inter-abled relationships? Does what Dr. Phil said have any merit to it? Let me know in the comments. Please subscribe for more great upcoming content and I’ll see you soon, my Un-imaginables!


Sources: Davidson, Jordan. “Interabled Couples Criticize Dr. Phil for Saying You Can Be a Lover or Caregiver, Not Both.” Yahoo! News, Yahoo!, 17 Mar. 2019, http://www.yahoo.com/news/interabled-couples-criticize-dr-phil-022059163.html. Original Picture by Keith Johnston from Pixabay  

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