Liar, Liar: Matt

"My brother, Matthew, is a compulsive liar. I cannot believe a word that comes out of Matt's mouth," says Libby.

Matt says his fibbing is a power trip. "I don't think about the consequences when I lie. It's second nature," he reveals.

 

His mother, Ellen, expresses disappointment. "He was never taught to lie and cheat and steal, but that's exactly what he's done most of his life," she says.  

Libby shares that Matt has also resorted to stealing. "He's stolen money from my family, pawned a painting and lied about it. My brother stole a brand new Volkswagen Bug that my father's business was auctioning off for the Christopher Reeve Foundation," she says.

 

Matt was pilfering from his family to pay back gambling debts or for escort services. "I deserve to go out and have a good time," he says.

 

Ellen worries because her son's lying has taken a dangerous turn. "Matt was threatened by a bookie because he had a bad debt, and they were going to break both his knee caps. I had to meet this person at a mall. I just paid it," she says. 

Libby says her brother committed the ultimate offense when he stole her Social Security number and ran up over $6,000 in credit card bills. "I can't get a small business loan. I can't get a student loan. I can't buy a house. I can't even get a Blockbuster card!" she laments. "It's ruined my life."

Matt joins Libby and Dr. Phil. The brother and sister haven't seen each other in two years, and Libby explains why. "My relationship has been ruined because I can't believe a word he says. How can you have a relationship with someone if every word out their mouth is a lie?" she asks.

Dr. Phil turns to Matt. "What gives you the right to choose to lie and victimize the people in this world who love you?" he inquires. "Tell me how you square that in your mind."

"It's a way that I'm trying to hide from whatever the problem is, whether it's taking the credit card, trying not to deal with the problem," Matt explains.

Dr. Phil reiterates the litany of Matt's actions. "He stole your Social Security number, opened a credit account in your name, and a cell phone, and this is like over $6,000," he confirms with Libby. To Matt, Dr. Phil says, "Your reaction to this when the producers were talking to you was, 'Hey, it wasn't $100,000. It was $6,000, maybe.'"

Libby chimes in, "It's not the money. It's the points on my credit."


Turning to Matt, Dr. Phil says, "How do you feel about the fact that you took her Social Security number — you put her credit in the ditch — because you not only used her identity to open up an account, you didn't pay the account?"

Matt justifies his behavior. "At the time, I was in a situation where I wasn't making a lot of money. I saw a means to an end. I don't know how I came across her Social Security number. I just filled out a credit card application."

Dr. Phil doesn't buy Matt's excuses. "What do you mean, you don't know how?" he asks. 

"The point of the fact is, I got it, I filled out a regular credit card application in the mail, and I had them send me a card — one in my name and one in her name. I thought the one in my name would be my credit, not hers," Matt replies weakly.

"You stole the raffle ticket money and the Volkswagen Beetle for the Christopher Reeve Foundation," Dr. Phil points out.

Matt refutes this. "I didn't take the car. The car was still given away to the proper owners, but I did take the money," he concedes. 

"You took it for a joy ride for a while. You were missing," Libby clarifies. 

Dr. Phil interjects. "Excuse me if I believe her," he says. "What you're saying is, he and the car disappeared, and you did steal the ticket money." 

"Yes, I did," Matt agrees. 

This is outlandish to Dr. Phil. "What do you say to yourself? 'OK, this is for a charitable foundation for a man that cannot even move, but I'm going to take the money, stick my happy ass in a stolen car and go run around the country!'"

Matt answers, "The money was there. I needed money for whatever and it was a quick solution."

Ellen says that even though her son manipulates her, she just keeps giving in to him. "I've helped by paying some of those bad debts off so that he wouldn't go to jail," she explains.

Libby thinks her mom is enabling Matt. "Matt hasn't had the opportunity to learn any lessons. My mom tries to sweep it under the rug," she complains. "I called Matt recently to tell him that I needed $500 immediately to pay my lawyer, and he turned around and asked my mother for the money."

Matt admits that Ellen makes it easy for him. "I always thought, 'If it gets really bad, Mom will be there. She's bailed me out a lot of situations," he says.

Ellen is fed up. "I'm not bailing Matt out any more," she declares. "Matt's the one who has to do this, not me."

 

Although she kicked her son out, she still got him an apartment and a phone in her name. "Matthew is a great manipulator. He does get my sympathy. I think that Matthew could manipulate Dr. Phil!" Ellen says.

"Do you think you're going to manipulate me?" Dr. Phil challenges Matt. 

Matt replies, "No. I want to get help for myself. I want to get help to get our family together."

"You say this lying is a power trip. You can just create this fantasy and just be anybody you want to be," Dr. Phil observes. "You know why you're not going to be able to manipulate me? Because I am your worst nightmare and best friend all at one time."

 

Dr. Phil notes that while Matt is wasting time creating a false reality, he is not living up to his potential. "I see you sitting there overweight, out of shape, broke, no function that you can be proud of. You're cheating yourself out of your life," he says. "When you walked through that door over there, you met somebody who is going to haunt you 'til the end of the world to turn your life around and get accountable. I am going to do everything I can to influence these people to call your bluff."

He addresses Ellen's history of paying off bookies and lawyers, and keeping her son out of trouble. "You are empowering him. You are enabling him. You are crippling him when you do that, and you need to stop doing that!" Dr. Phil admonishes. 

When he asks if Matt wants to get away with his deception, Matt replies, "No, I don't want to get away with it. I'm trying —"

Ellen chastises her son. "Matt, you're not trying to do anything. I'm sorry, you are not trying to help yourself. All you're doing is going around the problem," she says.

Libby maintains that even if her brother changes his ways, it's still too little, too late. "He doesn't know how what he's done has impacted me or my mother. He has no idea," she says. "Even if he pays it off, my credit is still ruined. Paying it off isn't going to help me. I have to press criminal charges, get lawyers, do all this stuff to get my points taken off. It's really about the points. I can't even rent an apartment."

Matt expresses sorrow. "I never meant to put her in this situation. It breaks my heart that I did what I did," he tells Dr. Phil. 

"If it broke your heart, you would have done something about it. Please!" Libby shoots back.

"List the behaviors that you're doing to rehabilitate her credit," Dr. Phil says. 

"Well, I've tried to get a hold of lawyers in our hometown to help out and do it, and we've tried to contact these credit card companies, and I've told her, 'Just tell them it's me. Give the debt to me so I can take care of it,'" Matt explains. 

"Matt, you've never done anything on your own to try to get this straightened out," Ellen says sharply. "I've told you it was your problem. You're the one who created it. You're the one who has to deal with it, and poor Libby is the one who's suffering from this!"

Matt wants his family to know that he's changed, and his lies are just covering up a much deeper pain.

"There's a definite connection between the weight and the lying. I'm always making myself appear to be better to somebody to compensate for my obesity. The truth hurts," he says.

Libby doesn't think her brother is making a concerted effort to change his ways. "We've gotten him into therapy, but he would lie about going to the therapist," she says, exasperated.

His voice breaking, Matt says, "Am I happy with who I am? No. I don't want to be 350 pounds and 33 years old and not be married. I don't like to look at myself in the mirror. I've tried every fad diet known to man. I've seriously thought about gastric bypass, starving myself, trying bulimia to see if it works, and it doesn't. The next thing you know, you're stuffing your face with a Big Mac," he says.

"I don't think he loves himself. He doesn't take care of his body. I want him to find that love for himself, pick up his life and get on the right track," Libby says.

Ellen hopes something drastic happens, or else her son's future looks bleak. "My worst fear is that Matt will die at a young age because of his obesity," she confesses. "I also fear that he's going to lose the only family that he's ever known."

Dr. Phil gives the young man hope. "What if a year from now you could be sitting here 150 pounds less than you are right now, having a life, having relationships, being able to look these people and yourself in the mirror, and know that you're living your life with dignity and self-respect? Tell me what that would mean to you," he says. 

"It would be amazing. It would be a dream come true to be able to lose the weight I can never get off, to get my family back, to get things straightened out in my life, to live a normal life," Matt answers. But he admits that he's clueless about the direction to take. "I'm so far deep, I have no idea where to even look for a ladder to climb out of a hole."

Libby and Ellen must refuse to enable Matt. "He's never paid for any of the things he's done. He's never owned up for the laws that he's broken. He's never paid back the money that he has misappropriated, defrauded, stolen," Dr. Phil points out.

 

Turning to Matt, he says, "Are you willing to work with me and a team of professionals to build an accountability fence around you, where if and when you do the things that you need not to do, it stings you and stings you bad?"

"I do want to change. I'm willing to try anything at this point. I want my family back. I want my sister back," Matt admits.

Dr. Phil wants Matt to know there will be severe consequences to pay if he goes back on his word. "If he does not do what he is required to do, you prosecute him for what he's done," he advises Libby. "If he needs to pay the price to learn the lesson, you've got to be willing to let him pay the price."