The Dr. Phil House:
House of Greed, Part 2

April 21, 2008


You've heard the sayings, "Money can't buy happiness," and "Money is the root of all evil." The family moving into The Dr. Phil House proves these sayings are true! They have waged a vicious war of finger-pointing and accusations against each other, all because of the almighty dollar. Their time in The House will be the first real communication they've had in over two years!

Lisa is at odds with her mother, Sonja, over her share of eight acres of property that they bought together. She says her mother put up a fence dividing the property unfairly. Sonja accuses Lisa of trying to extort money from her and inflicting parental abuse. She feels so betrayed by Lisa that she intends to leave everything in her will to her younger daughter, Lisa's half-sister, Sara. Lisa is furious that she's been left out and that her mother is choosing her sibling over her. Sara sides with her mother and says Lisa has always been jealous of her, and if Lisa thinks she can get Sonja to change her will, she's wrong! Sonja's husband, Dan, and Lisa's husband, Javan, support their wives 100 percent. Can Dr. Phil get this family to focus on healing their relationship instead of on dividing their land?

Part 1 Summary:
Dr. Phil greets the family via video as they settle into The House. He points out a huge dollar bill that hangs on the wall behind them and says, "I just put it up there so every time you walk by you can remember that this is what your family has been reduced to." With the help of family therapist Dr. Tara Fields, the clan gets down and dirty, telling each other their grievances. Sparks fly between Lisa and Sonja, and after the exercise, both women continue to defend their positions.

Lisa and Sara face off in a dyad led by Dr. Fields, where they read and explain an emotionally-charged statement each has made about the other. When Lisa calls Sara lazy and worthless, Sara takes her to task, pointing out that those comments are really an attack on their mother. When Sara says she's upset that Lisa is mad at her for being born, Lisa points out that perhaps Sonja is brewing this feud between the two of them. Lisa also reveals that she believes Sara is Sonja's favorite child, and all she wants is a place in the family. The discussion brings both women to tears, and they agree they have wanted a sisterly relationship with each other. Unbeknownst to Lisa and Sara, Sonja is watching their interaction on a monitor in another room and doesn't hold back her comments, most of which criticize Lisa.

Sonja reveals to Sara that she listened to her conversation with Lisa. She accuses Lisa of painting her as a villain and attacking Sara. Sara stands up to her mother and suggests that everyone needs to make changes, not only Lisa, and that her mother should treat all her children the same. Sonja maintains that putting up the fence was her best defense.

Dr. Phil has his first visit with the family and is fed up that none of them are getting to the core of the problem. He asks Sonja if the fence has solved her problems, and plays a video showing how obsessed the family is with the fence. Sonja is still convinced the fence was a good idea. Dr. Phil questions the family's eagerness to work out their problems and tells them they are the least insightful and least motivated family he's worked with.

Lisa's 16-year-old daughter, Jessica, makes a surprise visit and erupts in tears as she expresses to her grandmother how she misses their relationship and how hurt she is that she is not listed in the will. Sonja shows no emotion toward her granddaughter and brings the conversation back to the will. Tears well in Sonja's eyes when Dr. Phil tells her she's a right-fighter and is going to die a lonely woman. She gets up and gives her granddaughter a hug.

Dr. Phil concludes his visit by dumping a wheelbarrow full of dirt in the living room and says, "Make a choice: you can have your family, or you can fight over dirt." Go inside The House.

 

Part 2 Summary:

The petty bickering over the land and the will carries on as the relatives continue to defend their positions. Fed up, Sara steps in to break up the conflict. "We shouldn't feel this way. Let's stop that. Stop!" she tells her family. She asks her mother, Sonja, to start taking responsibility for her behavior, and she lets her know that putting up the fence on the land was a stupid thing to do. Sara encourages her sister, Lisa, and mother to admit they love each other, and Sonja and Lisa share an emotional embrace.

Lisa and Sonja face off in a one-on-one conversation to barrel down to the core of their issues. Soon into the conversation, tempers flare and the focus of the talk returns to the will and the fence. Lisa tries to reason with her mother and wants her to be sorry for her actions. Sonja feels she's been treated as a villain and refuses to apologize for putting up the fence.

Although Sara has stood by her mother's side throughout the dispute, she confronts Sonja about always acting as though her actions are right. Dan, Sonja's husband, joins the conversation and urges Sonja to stop playing hardball so she and Lisa can reach a compromise, because they are running out of time. Sonja says she feels isolated because everyone is ganging up on her, and Sara is "swinging and swaying," in her loyalty. Sara leaves the conversation in tears and goes into her room to cry. Shortly thereafter, Sara emerges from her room and tells her mother that she loves her and is not abandoning her. Sonja admits she wasn't being open when Sara confronted her but says she doesn't feel valued. Sonja still questions what all the fighting is really about.

Dr. Phil's close associate, Steve Davidson, visits with the family, and asks them to answer a series of questions from their hearts. When Sonja has her turn, she has a hard time revealing her true emotions. Dan voices his opinion and apologizes for his actions. Sonja is ashamed of herself because Dan said sorry first. Sonja asks Lisa and her husband, Javan, for forgiveness. When Lisa sees her mother show true emotions, she's hopeful their relationship can be healed but is cautious that the behavior will only be temporary.

Dr. Phil has his final sit down with the clan. He suggests that Sonja's seemingly irrational behavior could be triggered by her fear of growing old without any financial resources and alienated from her family. Sonja is open to Dr. Phil's theory and agrees with it. Dr. Phil suggests the family not participate in anymore business deals together. He offers to provide a neutral mediator to help the women negotiate the dividing of the property. Sonja and Lisa appreciate the offer. Dr. Phil takes the dollar bill off the wall and reminds the family that the real work starts when they leave The House.

The family prepares to return home. Lisa sees glimmers of the mother who raised her and is hopeful; though she worries because she and her mother have lived the pattern of fighting and making up for many years. Sonja feels the family is on the road to recovery. Sara understands more healing needs to take place.

A few weeks after the family leaves The House, the Dr. Phil cameras follow Sonja, Dan, Lisa and Javan as they head into mediation. The women bicker and emotions run high. Sonja feels she's being treated unfairly and tears well in her eyes. She says she's done, and leaves the room. After 10 hours, mother and daughter come to an agreement, but Lisa worries her mom will not honor it. Go inside The House.