Weight Controversies: Donna and Marryann

Weight Controversies: Donna and Marryann
The mother of two obese girls, along with her concerned aunt, asks Dr. Phil for help.
Thirteen-year-old Jessica weighs almost 300 pounds. Her sister, Rebecca, is 11 and weighs 225 pounds. Their Aunt Donna says she cares about them and wants to help them lose weight.

"I have discussed different diets with both the girls," says Donna, who admits she suggested that their mother, Maryann, place
a lock on the refrigerator door.

"My aunt is controlling, doesn't listen, is hot tempered, and tends to exaggerate," says Maryann. "Two weeks ago she called me and wanted me to empty everything out of my house. She makes me feel like I can't make decisions and she knows what's best for me ... My aunt has a tendency to go too far when I ask for help and then I don't know how to tell her she's doing too much."
Dr. Phil asks Maryann (left) if it's true that her daughters drink 10 to 12 sodas a day. Maryanne says it isn't true, while Donna (right)
says that it is.

"These aren't your children," Dr. Phil tells Donna. "So what business is it of yours? I'm not saying it shouldn't be. I'm just asking what it is."

"Number one, I care about them and I think it's come to a crisis, a life-threatening situation," says Donna. "Number two, I'm pulled into it by Maryann. When she's in crisis, she asks me to come over and help her. We draw up a plan and when I start to do it, she doesn't want me around any more. She makes it my business and I want to be there. I don't consider it meddling because I care about them."

Dr. Phil asks Maryann, "Is this true? Have you invited her into the situation?"

"No," says Maryann. "I have not invited her in to make a diet plan or anything. We don't agree on diets. I don't believe in these fad diets. I believe we have to teach them to be healthy and make a lifestyle change."
Dr. Phil asks Jay McGraw, who spoke to Jessica and Rebecca before the show, to tell him what the girls had to say.

Jay explains, "They said, 'I consider my weight to be a problem. I'm not in control of it. My mom's not in control of it,
and my aunt's not in control of it.' And they said, 'I've got no idea what to do.' They can't help themselves. They have no idea how they got where they are and how to change to get where they want to be. They say, 'My aunt comes over and helps us lose some weight but then it all comes back on.'"

Jay continues, "They have no idea what they're doing. They are totally lost and they hate it. They're shy, quiet and they say the kids ridicule them in schoo l... They go to recess and can't do what the other kids do and it's embarrassing."

"What do they say about these two fighting?" asks Dr. Phil.

"They say neither one of them helps, and that the fighting does nothing more than make their situation worse," says Jay.
Dr. Phil tells Maryann and Donna, "I'm so frustrated with you two going back and forth. While you're doing that, you're not focusing on those girls. Those girls are suffering ... The body image is distorted, the self-image suffers, and they suffer physically. What I hear is a lot of noise between you two women but I don't hear a verb in one of your sentences about those
girls. I don't hear a plan ... You two are going back and forth so you can both be right. Well let me tell you something: You're not right. You say those girls need to control their weight? Sixty percent of adults can't control their weight — including the two of you!"

Dr. Phil offers to arrange for a professional to work with the family to come up with a plan of intervention and create a multi-faceted lifestyle shift to get the girls healthy mentally, physically and emotionally. Maryann and Donna accept the offer and agree to commit to the program.
"Let me introduce you to Dr. Frank Lawlis," says Dr. Phil. "Dr. Lawlis, by the way, is the gentleman who trained me ... He was my clinical director in school and the head of the behavioral medicine department in our program and I was his shining star student. [Addressing Dr. Lawlis] Right? You have to say something nice because we're on TV!"

"He was and is my shining star," says Dr. Lawlis.

"He says he taught me everything I know," says Dr. Phil. "I say he taught me everything he knows."

Dr. Lawlis informs Maryann and Donna that he has already arranged an intervention for them in their hometown.