Dr. Phil: FLDS principles ‘imminent danger’ for children

(CNN) — Dr. Phil McGraw joined “Larry King Live” on Thursday where he talked about some of the stories in the news. He touched on topics ranging from the removal of children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sect to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the Austrian family affected by incest.

King: Outside of Vienna, authorities say a man imprisoned his daughter for 24 years and fathered seven children. What’s your read on this?

McGraw: Well, Larry, this is a whole other level of dysfunction. Think about this. We deal with pedophiles every day. We deal with people that will abuse a child or a number of children in a short period of time and sometimes as much as across a few years. But what we’re talking about here is someone that has maintained a prison for not one, not two, but three, four, five, six and ultimately seven people across a quarter of a century.

This is a very seriously deranged, very seriously disturbed individual. And the question that you — that you face here is, how in the world could people in this man’s life, people in the neighborhood, people that interacted with him, not know that something was going wrong? And I think I understand why they don’t. But that’s the question that everybody has.

King: Let’s turn to the polygamy matter. If the allegations of abuse are true, do you see any problem with all of these children in foster care?

McGraw: I see huge problems with it, Larry. I think we’re in a situation here that there is not necessarily a good option. Now, think about this: there are only a certain number of these children that were believed to be at risk. But, yet, all of the children were taken out and put into foster care.

Now, I’ve said this before, the statistics tell us that 73 percent of all children that go into foster care wind up on the street or in jail. So, that means that if you apply those numbers to these 416 children, 304 of them would be predicted to wind up on the street or in jail. Is that a good alternative? And I don’t think it is. And I don’t think that it makes sense to take all of the children out of this situation without doing a case-by-case study, to see which one of these children are at risk and which ones are not.

Now, clearly, the principles that seem to govern the FLDS would be imminent danger for these children. But somehow or another, you have to figure a way to train these people, create an open door policy, get monitoring, get access and try to get these children back with their biological mothers, but with protection, and monitoring.

King: What do you think of the adult mothers?

McGraw: Well, at this point, so many of these mothers, Larry, grew up in this religious sect. So, they know nothing else. I mean, people say they look strange, because they walk around in kind of “Little House on the Prairie” type garb. They have unusual hair. They speak in very monotonic, scripted ways. This is all these women know. So many of them were born in this sect. All they have been exposed to are the forces, values and treatment that is indigenous to this sect. So, they don’t know anything else. And they have been told that you, me, everybody on the outside world constitutes evil threats. So, at this point, I’m sure they’re in a state of confusion. But it doesn’t mean that they can’t learn, that they can’t be willing to adhere to some other guidelines. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But some dialogue has to take place here.

King: What do you make of this Wright/Obama story? I know you don’t take sides.

McGraw: I don’t take sides about this. But I do look at the human behavior. And I think the psychology of this is very interesting and intriguing. You know, obviously, Rev. Wright is enjoying the focus, and is enjoying the media, because he’s certainly stepping out and saying things that he has not said before.

And the problem that I think this creates in the psychology of the voters for Sen. Obama is, they’re saying, OK, if this is the person that for a number of years has been the spiritual mentor for Obama, if this is the person that has been riding on the spiritual soul, the spiritual slate of this individual, has he embraced those views? Is he someone that feels the way this mentor feels?

And I think he’s got some real questions to answer about that. These are Rev. Wright’s opinions, not Sen. Obama’s, and I don’t think you should hold him accountable for that. But people are going to wonder whether or not, because he has chosen this man, has held counsel with him across the years, if he, in fact, embraces those views. And I think he’s going to have to answer that very directly.

King: What’s your take on the tone of this campaign, what it’s become?

McGraw: Well, you know, I think this is a very interesting campaign, in that it has gone on for such a long period of time. And usually, when you’re in party primaries, the psychology is to say, “I’m better than my fellow Democrat or my fellow Republican, not that they’re bad, not that they’re unworthy, just that I’m better.” And I think what we’re seeing here now is not Clinton destroying Obama or Obama destroying Clinton, but I think they’re getting this thing stretched out long enough that they’re actually beginning to hurt themselves. They’re getting in situations that are fraught with danger, and I think the Democrats are doing themselves a big disservice by continuing this dialogue.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday May 3, 2008.
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