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October 16th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

A Woman on the Street

homeless1Something happened to me a few days ago that I can’t get off of my mind. I was driving from my house to the studio, and I made my usual turn off of Sunset onto Vine, which is a very busy, four-lane street. Out of nowhere, I suddenly saw an older woman in dirty, baggy clothes pushing a wheelchair straight into the traffic moving from my left to my right.

She seemed determined to cross all four lanes to get to the other side, but without the slightest regard to the fact that cars were coming at her at a dangerous speed. She pushed the wheelchair backward, and she was severely bent over, her head down, almost buried in the pile of clothes, rags and belongings stacked in the seat. She could barely see where she was going. And because she was so low to the ground, I feared the cars, and especially the trucks, might not be able to see her. This was not shaping up well, not by a long shot. 

I hit my brakes and angled my car to block the two lanes of traffic in my direction. I then flashed my lights and waved frantically out my window to alert the cars coming the opposite way. Fortunately, everyone responded quickly and without even the toot of a horn.

So, now all traffic is stopped. When the woman cleared my two southbound lanes, I started moving again before I caused an accident by being stopped in the middle of the street, nowhere close to a crosswalk or light. I guess, I figured I had done my job. But as I reached the light at Santa Monica Boulevard and started turning left, I glanced back and saw that the woman had since turned completely around and was retracing her route right back across the same two lanes of traffic that I previously had blocked. She was kind of weaving and circling. Cars were slamming on their brakes, and now they were blowing their horns. It was surprising there wasn’t a wreck and that she wasn’t run over.

homeless2I made the turn and thought, ‘You need to get back there.’ I looped through the neighborhood and went back to where she had been. But she was gone, and I mean gone. I couldn’t see her anywhere, and I looked and looked. It was like she had been absorbed by the world that, for the most part, probably looked right past her. I wondered if anyone cared where she was on this particular morning.

I have no idea what happened to her. But questions haunt me. Should I have done more in the first place? What would I have done if I had found her when I went back? Here I am, having spent my life as a mental health professional, and I can tell you, I had no plan! Should I have parked and gotten out and offered assistance? Taken her to an emergency room? Led her into a restaurant and gotten her something to eat? Tried to identify her and maybe find some family? Should I have driven her to one of the very few shelters available for lost, disoriented people like her? Should I have called the police or the county sheriff and tried to get a protective commitment for her?

I wonder, in retrospect, if the reason I didn’t stop was because of unconsciously worrying about the unknowns. Was she diseased? Mentally ill and unpredictable? Maybe even violent? I didn’t consciously think about those things at the time, but then I didn’t immediately park and hop out to help, either. I was in a hurry to get to a meeting — but big deal, aren’t we all always in a hurry? Did I drive by a human being in harm’s way because it would have been inconvenient to stop? I promise you, if it had been a child, I would have gotten out, but with this homeless woman, I didn’t. No one else did either. And that bothers me, more for me than them.

Many homeless people do suffer from mental illness. Research has found that the vast majority of homeless people in urban areas are mentally ill, and that many of them have a history of psychiatric hospitalization. That just means they deserve more of our help, concern and compassion. You can tell I’m bothered that I didn’t stop, and more that I didn’t have a plan. Because of this experience, I will be better prepared the next time I see a human being in harm’s way.

What have you done? And what would you do? Please, let me hear from you.  And to learn more about mental health resources in your area, click here.

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257 Responses to “A Woman on the Street”

  1. Giselle says:

    Dr. Phill,you of all people should have stopped and made sure was completely across the street. You are a wealthy mental health professional, with the added bonus of being a large male. It would have been 5 minutes of your time to get her on the side walk and called a professional in to help.
    My husband would have jumped out without a second thought. We don’t even get all of our bills paid every month, but she would not have been his first damsel in distress to save. In addition, he would have made sure she was lucid enough to not get confused. If she was confused, he would have pulled out his cell phone and called someone to help.
    We can’t pay our bills because of this horrible economy. I lost my job due to outsourcing of my medical billing job. My job was outsourced because of the insanely large aging claims from Medicare and DSHS. I have a part time job now, and pray that his job won’t be outsourced too. We are raising 3 year old identical triplets. They are extremely active developmentally delayed boys. They were born at 32 weeks, we are lucky they are not in wheel chairs. Despite that, my husband’s Super Man complex keeps him ready to help out a femal in distress, especially confused old ladies slowly crossing the street.

  2. Sharon Laine says:

    Hello Dr. Phil! I just wanted to say that I feel you did exactly what was expected of you and than some! How many other people stopped the traffic with their cars or any thing else for that matter! Dr. Phil, I believe God puts us where He wants us and uses us in ways He needs to. Just remember, you DID NOT have to block the traffic and you DID NOT have to turn around and come back, but you did and that is saying a lot! Please don’t blame yourself for something you feel you did or did not do. Since you did not see the little lady when you returned, that tells me God had already taken care of her and got her out of the way! I do know how you feel though as one day my husband and I were riding down the road. We live in Florida and this was last summer in the HEAT and HUMIDITY. As we were driving along, we came upon an older gentleman walking down the street carrying several bags of groceries. It was like mid day and it was smoldering outside. I told my husband to stop and let’s give the old man a ride. I asked him if we could take him some where to get him out of the heat and he politely said “no thank you, I’m all right”. So, to my dismay, we left him in the HOT and HUMID weather to fend for himself. Several months after that, I was reading in the paper one day and saw an article written on him a long with his obituary. It said he was a VETERAN of WWII and was HOMELESS!!! He lived in the woods all by himself and had been for years! Dr. Phil, this BROKE my heart!!! Here I am, my husband and I driving a nice big car with lots of COLD air and living in a three bedroom home with a spare room we only use for guests and this poor man that fought for my freedom long before I was even born and was willing to give up his life for mind,
    is living in the woods!!! So yes Dr. Phil, I feel your pain and still do!!! Take care Dr. Phil and I hope this helps you in some little way! Just remember Dr. Phil, we are all human above all else and we do have feelings and God tells us He will not put on us more than we can handle. Now, having said that, I would like to ask you for your help. I have written to you and your show several times asking if you could have a show or at least help me with a very serious situation. Dr. Phil, I was a caregiver to someone that was very special to me. I am having a problem letting go of him and his things even though he’s been gone for four years now. I even have his ashes that I just can’t let go of and I know this is not fare to my husband! I would love it if you would have a show on CAREGIVING and how to LET GO after the person has passed. I know this will not only help me but the thousands of hundreds of caregivers out there struggling with this same issue.
    Thank you Dr. Phil and I pray God will Bless you and your family always, Sincerely, Sharon from Cocoa.

  3. Lea says:

    Dr. Phil. Your story about the homeless woman is poignant. I frequently visit the museums of Washington D.C. where homelessness surrounds everyone. Most of the time I travel alone, but on occasions when my husband goes with me, he always responds in some kind way. On one visit, I was sleeping late at our
    four-star hotel as my husband was out on the street visiting with a woman whose son had been killed in a drive-by shooting. She had dreams of becoming a minister and helping others. When my husband offered her money, she refused, insisting that she was not a beggar. Somehow my husband persuaded her to take some money for food.

    On another occasion when our grandson was small, we were confronted by a huge, burly D.C. man who asked for money for a meal. He was a scary dude, so my husband and I agreed that I should take our grandson to Johnny Rocket’s while he went off with the stranger to have steak. His story was that he had been an athletic scholar at a major university, but in his early twenties had a nervous breakdown. His final disclosure was that mental illness runs in his family. It was his fate. He had no hope of recovery.

    Just recently we attended the National Book Festival with our daughter and grandson. As we were entering the National Portrait Gallery for lunch, a young woman and small child approached us asking for money. I smiled at her boy and kept walking, my police officer daughter flinched as though she had been assaulted and then looked away. Then I turned to my husband who was pulling up the rear, telling him that his Good Samaritan opportunity was here. We went into the museum as he visited with the woman who said she was on her way to McDonalds with her son for lunch. He accomodated her with lunch money and then joined us inside. (We SHOULD have invited her and her son to eat with us!!!)
    Why didn’t we do that?

    Then there was the time a woman waited for us to return to our hotel
    after our shopping visit to Union Station. She had asked us to bring her a sandwich. I had told her we would be gone quite awhile and asked if she would still be at “her” tree. She assured us that she would, but when we returned, she was gone. I went on to the hotel room while my husband searched for blocks until he found her to give her the sandwich.

    One of my former college students spends Christmas walking with the homeless in D.C. She carries a pillow case with warm socks, gloves and small nonperishable food items, passing them out with a reminder that these dear people have not been forgotten … just lost in the “system.” I have the same feelings you have Dr. Phil (I think). Most of the time, I’m afraid of being assaulted. And there is plenty of violent crime in our nation’s capital. When I travel alone I carry a stack of single dollar bills to mete out to beggars. Yes … much of it goes to alcohol. A university colleague of mine always takes someone from the street to lunch when he visits the capital. He says that “we put them there and if they want alcohol, so be it.”

    I’ve been scolded by elitist know-it-alls who insist that we’re feeding the illness. Maybe.

    There seems to be no full reconciliation in the world’s richest country. Jesus said there would always be poor, but I can’t use that as an excuse to be blinded by the plight of people who are suffering on every level. “I was hungry and you did not feed me.” Maybe we should all be on the street at Christmas time with a pillow case filled with gifts. Maybe we should be on the street with the pillowcase once a week. Most of the time my husband finds that these lonely people take so much joy in just having someone to talk to. That is his true gift. He listens to the heartbreak that wrecked their lives. There is always heartBREAK.

    I’m an optimist, but I DO believe we all have a point where our lives can be broken by trauma. Remember Robin Williams’ movie The Fisher King? We have friends whose daughter was just sent from Iraq to Walter Reed after someone in her Bagdhad unit was killed. She will not be homeless. Her family will watch out for her. But we’re very concerned about her future. She could be the next broken heart wandering through a maze of irreconcilable personal suffering. The last I heard from her Mom, the soldier is mortified by the possibility that she has let “us” down. She is humiliated by her braek and racked with guilt.
    (Survivor’s guilt?) Obviously it’s much more complicated than that. I hate for her to be at Walter Reed. She will be surrounded by suffering and trauma. Personally, I’m not convinced that that is a healing environment.

    So the list goes on and on. Some disappearing wheelchair-pushing broken soul in L.A. Some woman huddled under a tree near Union Station. Some middle class teacher moonlighting as a beggar. Some alcoholic living under the bridge in our community.

    Some dirty staggering bumb whose father used to entertain his friends by having his young boy run as hard as he could before butting his head into a solid wall. The abuser thought it was hysterical that a kid would have no more sense than to ram his head into a wall. One person tried to help: cleaned him up, befriended him, gave him odd jobs. There was no salvation. And THIS was a guy my husband was afraid of … lots of extremely aggressive behavior demonstrated by this young man. He has disappeared as far as we know. Wandering in the streets somewhere? Don’t know.

    I give money to charities, and many do a good job. We can’t save all the mentally ill who wander in search of mere existence. But how can we not respond? I have no answers for myself … certainly not for anyone else.

    I will say that many of these folks seem to be highly territorial. If you go back to the point where you saw the woman, you’ll find her. A few inquiries with peole on the street will probably uncover her “territory.” If she is still alive.

  4. Lea says:

    Please excuse typos of hastily previous post.

    Bums not bumbs ! :>/
    break not braek
    people not peole

    I’m up, sleep deprived with back pain. Also—not a very good typist! :>/ !

  5. Lea says:

    Time for more sleep!!! Aaaargh

    “hastily written previous post!” NOT “hastily previous post”

  6. Joe Faulkner says:

    Dr Phil, A similar thing happened years ago with me. I came across a drunken women staggering on the road and kept falling over. She was paraletic drunk and had a child that was about 10 with her. I was worried she would get run over as it was also night time. I offered her a lift to her home. She refused and said she was walking to another town ! She was grazed also, because of her constant falling on the bitumen. The best thing I thought to do was to call the police. They came, and took her and the child home, after first refusing to go with them and giving the police a hard time. I felt sorry for the child, who was also trying to help his mother get up each time she fell over. Sorry that the child was in that predicament.

    Your blog and responses has given some food for thought.

    Dr Phil, you stopped, and then went back later to help. Who else did that?

  7. Elia says:

    I’ve always known that street people are mentally ill. I mean, who would willingly live on the streets when they could be in a comfortable home or appartment? Obviously these people can not integrate into society and well, end up on the streets.

    I don’t know about the US, but here in Canada its pathetic the fact that the government barely invests in mental health research and resources. They don’t seem to take it as seriously as cancer or Aids or other major illness. The resourses are so little and difficult to access for most.

    Pardon me for saying this, but maybe if these street people don’t have family to help them off the street, they should be living in some sort of mental institution funded by the government. And there should be social workers working closely with each peoson to make sure they don’t end up back there and keep up with their treatment. Its not an easy thing to do i’m sure, but we must not give up. Especially since Canadians live in what we call a “welfare society”, we take care of our people.

  8. Kim Henwood says:

    Dr. Phil,

    In my proving of Nova Scotia, we have had many reports on people living on the street and who to believe or not to. See we have had one person living the best of both worlds. She was working and making pretty good money…enough to put a roof over her head and buy her Columbia clothing, but then you would see her on the corner of a busy intersection collecting money. She would have her sign out…can’t afford food, please give. She would receive too. I’ve seem some on corners with their signs looking for food or money, with their straggly dog…and the torn and dirty clothes. How do I know that they don’t have a place to live, a job and are looking for just a little more spending money? I don’t, and as cold as it sounds, I don’t care to know. People like that have ruined my sense of humanity. I will continue to donate to food banks, but even then how do I know that someone isn’t taking away from someone else just for a free cooked meal?

    I know there are people living out there on the street due to some sort of challenge in their lives, drinking, drugs, mentality….how do we sort out who really needs the help, because they really can’t chose for themselves?

    Sorry to be such a critical thinker. Have a nice day…or try to after my comments!

  9. Darla Brooks says:

    Dr. Phil, I applaud you and you efforts to keep that woman safe. I have just started classes to go into the psycology field and I believe I would have done the samething.
    In fact the other day I about caused a wreck on a narrow highway because of a guy standing in the middle of the road, drunk and trying to hitch hike. Was it the same seniero, no, but how was I to know if he didn’t have other mental health issues along with being drunk. I still am unsure if he is okay, the last I seen him the local police were headed to him.

  10. marissa says:

    Dr.Phil

    I think you did what you could I mean she kind of just wandered across the highway you can’t in an instance assume your going to think of every last thing you could do to help this woman! Your first thought is how do I keep this women from being killed crossing this road! The thoughts of what You could have done more to help come later… Happens to everyone. I live with mental illness in my family my mother in law has it. she almost did not come to our wedding because of it. She has skizofrenia. It is a really hard desease to be around. I love her yet in essence I really don’t know her. I know only the way the desease has made her. It is a very heartbreaking desease especially for my husband. I have more I could tell but I feel broadcasting all this on line would hurt my husband…

  11. jacquie merrill says:

    Hi. I live very far out in the country of rural N.C. and here we do not see homeless per se, but there are a lot of people here that live below the poverty level, including me. But I also help 2 other families with their bills almost weekly, because there are children in both families and I have none. So we all have to care for one another, if its stopping in traffic, or slipping a friend a 20 to buy milk and bread, its all the same.

  12. beverly says:

    HOPE the Dr. Phil show recieves this, don’t know how to blog or twitter.

    This is about “A Women on the Street”, 4 yrs. ago I met someone’s mother, daughter or sister, on my way home from work. First few evenings, honestly thought she was waiting for a ride.

    NO SHE WAS NOT waiting for a ride, she was homeless, well kept, in her 80’s (?). Watched this play out all wk., that Sat. drove back, there she was. Sat down on the pavement to talk to her, “no one home”. Gave her $20., came home & phoned the police. Was told they could keep her for 24hrs. @ the local mental hospital, then they would release her back to the streets!!!! It was COLD!

    Everytime I pass that spot, think/wonder about her. The word’s of the policeman that picked her up, RINGS in my ear’s. Still wonder about her. Something is SO WRONG!!

    Beverly

  13. Diane says:

    Dr. Phil: I feel your pain- there are so limited services for these people in need. No one would have helped her unlss she was a true harm to herself- (ok crossing the highways without regard to cars) counts- but the mental health is so innundatesd they cant handle the amount of people that need help. There are not enough resources, enough beds in hosp for neatally ill, etc. We were tortured by my dad who suffered from bipolar dep and would not take meds- for 20 yrs how many times we suffered trying to get police, places to take him away to get the needed help- no one wants to go near these people! What can we do— GO Dr. Phil!!!!

  14. There are more sad stories like these than we could ever believe.
    These people have families and they are the ones who should be ashamed to let their flesh and blood live that way.
    We can only do so much. To allow a stranger into our homes can be dangerous if not deadly.
    We can only call those who are trained to deal with it and hopefully they can help. My brother is a cop and sees this all the time. The laws make people accountable for their lives and when they can’t function, there is help around.

  15. robin says:

    just wanted to say that i think it is our calling as human beings with feelings to help take care of each other. i’m not sure what i would have done in your spot dr. phil. i am a mentally ill 40yr old woman who , Thank God, has had the best support from family, friends, and very patient health care workers. i could not be more blessed. every time i see someone less fortunate than myself i always remember a phrase that i heard a long time ago. i’m not even sure where i heard it but i will never forget it. it is, “there but by the grace of God go i”. i have had some really hard times in my life but i have made it through so far. anyway… back to the topic, i can only ask that if i’m ever in that situation i pray that whatever decision i make i just want to be able to be proud of my actions.

  16. Mary says:

    This is a comment on the homeless lady. The the comments criticizing the families of the homeless for not offering a place for them to live or stay is very, very wrong. I have a brother living in the streets, but not because he wasn’t offered a helping hand. He’s been offer many, but he usually bites the hands by stealing from them to buy what he wants, be it drugs, cigarettes, or booze. He would take as long as it was given without the slightest ‘thank you’. Yes, there is some mental instability but not enough to keep him from pushing a lawn mower, painting, or even washing dishes. It’s laziness not ‘mental or any other kind of plight’ that got him there. The most unfortunate part of it is for some unusual reason, I’m not sure why because we were raised side by side, but he has this strange notion that it is owed to him, and if it isn’t given to him he sees no reason why he shouldn’t just take it, and laugh about it. For the person blaming the family for leaving them on the streets, I openly invite you to take a few of them into your home and you liberate them from their ’self claimed afflicitions’. You would probably find out quickly they want what you have, but don’t ask anything from them because you might get a response lacking any kind of gratitude.

  17. marygee says:

    Thank you Ronald Reagan and to all those involved in the closings of the state mental hospitals. Scenes like this happen everyday, everywhere as a direct result of deinstitutionalzation in the 1970’s. Aren’t we proud of ourselves? So much for community mnetal health centers, bah!

  18. Betty says:

    This homeless woman is everywhere in town, city and states. She could use help but after the economic melt down there is no money for her. But there is billion dollars bonus for our banker and financial people. These are the people who should be on the street. I bet if she walk into a bank or a financial office and ask for money for food, she would be kick out immediately back on the street. But lets not have the people who cause this problem live without food, shelter, or expensive house. There is something wrong with this picture.

  19. Becky says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    I thank you for what you did. We never know at what point in time is our end on this earth. I believe the Lord had you notice the woman, and with you stopping traffic you saved her life. That could have been her time of death and not when she went back across. If she were a relative if mine I would have been ever grateful. My daughter that I adopted is from a family of several mental illness. My daughter has bi-polar. As she was growing up I begged anyone I could think of for help. Mental illness was not addressed as it is today. Long story short she ended up homeless due to me having to assert tough love and ask her to leave my home. She was on the streets in the dead of winter when the shelter wasn’t open. If that lady had been my daughter I would have been very grateful. Thank you Dr. Phil for showing compassion.

  20. Dawn says:

    Hi Dr. Phil;

    Been reading some of the responses on here, interesting at best. Elia in Canada, is the one that hit a spot for me as I am from Canada as well. Suggesting that the government build facilities and put social workers in them for all of the mentally ill people is not the answer and that was totally wiped out in the 1990’s. That is when the homeless rate went soaring here. The government shut down the hospitals for all but the completely criminally insane. And it is not staffed with social workers but with psychiatric nurses. I know a woman who works there and it is a tough job. As for a “welfare society”, I don’t know where you get your information from, but that would be incorrect on many levels. We do have socialized medicine, which does not work well up here due to the low level of population. If we had a large population such as the United States, that would be a different story. And no, we don’t take care of our people (citizens if you will), because if we did, we wouldn’t have 65% of the users of food banks be children. I do believe that is a low ball number.

    The cutbacks that are occurring here are terrifying. In BC where I live, the walk in clinics are allowed to have the doctors see 50 patients a day…they could easily see that in 2 hours…after that, they have to shut the doors. Schools are shut down due to no money, 5 year old children are expected to walk to school on major highways if they live within the catchement of the school or pay for the school bus, does that sound like we take care of our people???? No…. it doesn’t.

    Dr. Phil, you did what you thought was right at the time. At least you went back to check for her, and someone on here wrote already that homeless people are territorial, she will probably show up again. Homeless or displaced peoples are resilient and strong. And you thought enough about her to ask for opinions…. here is sending positive energy to you and she.

  21. ML says:

    I am one government decision away from being that woman myself. Even though I own my own failry nice but very OLD mobile home, and my own car, I live on Soc Sec disability, due mostly to mental illness (clinical depression) and partly due to my physical condition. Explaining this to people is worthless, as I am judged as being a bum on welfare, which I am not. I’m sure I qualify for food stamps and handicapped parking, but I refuse. I have a small part-time job, and the local community health-care center in my tiny town does the best they can and has been very good to me. My nerves are shot, and I can’t walk across the street, so I fix it so I never have to. I’m sure most people don’t have that choice. There have been times that I’ve asked strangers if I could please hold their arm so I could walk across the street with them.
    I can only hope that one day, when homelessness happens to me, that someone like you would offer any type of help at all. I have compassion for the disabled of any type, and offer help when I can. So why, when I need the help, do I HATE myself for being that way? (I’m talking serious self-anger here.)
    Thank you, Dr. Phil, for bringing things like these to our attention, and for giving us a chance to comment.

  22. Ruth says:

    These are the thoughts that come to me after reading the comments and the story. It would be nice if the subject of mental illness were tackled on a series of shows. There are enough people suffering that it may relevant to most people at some level. Those who are lucky enough to not have had first or second hand experience with mental illness are needed so that they can begin to want to help those experiencing extreme anguish and suffering because of mental illness. Part of the problem is still stigma and/or fear. It is scary and embarrassing to see so your own or someone else’s brain deteriorate before your eyes. The last thing we want to lose is control of our mind yet it is happening to large numbers of people in many ways every day. Type and degrees of loss vary but can include: schizophrenia; post traumatic stress after combat or other; severe clinical depression; anxiety disorders including panic attacks, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder and its variants; early vascular dementia;alzheimers;sensory distortions and anxieties on the autistic spectrum. All of these are brain diseases which may be brought on by physical and/or psychological stressers which then trigger genes epigenetically into not working properly and you get one or more of the above. Unfortunately when you have one or more of these brain diseases you are at a disadvantage for helping yourself more than for other diseases because it is your brain that is involved especially if you have been hit hard and fast. Add to this that people around you may not be tolerant of viewing extreme suffering or they don’t believe what you are experiencing and you feel guilty and ashamed of a disease process you are experiencing. You also feel ashamed of your inability to contribute to society because from the outside you look normal but it may take more effort to get yourself even to the bathroom than all the effort at the most challenging job you ever worked at. A person may be called lazyor told to buck up and ‘get over it’. Additional stress only makes the illness worse. The treatment of these brain diseases is still evolving and what works for one individual may not work at all for another. It has been documented that certain individuals especially some teenagers were prompted to take their life once they started a particular medication. It is actually like a roulette game when doctors try a person on a certain medication. Yet other people will be helped by various medications. Some schizophrenics can live a fairly normal life if they get just the right dosage and the right type of medication for their individual body chemistry. Biomedical treatments such as very specific vitamins and nutrients are being used with success to treat some people. However, probably most if not all people will not feel so alone if they are not shunned, ignored, and expected to perform as before the illness. Apparently in some villages of India the mentally ill may not be cured but the new odd behaviors are accepted and the person still feels accepted so that they suffer less emotional trauma with their brain disease. Also to whatever degree their ability to function has been compromised they are cared for so that meals are made for them if that is something they can no longer do. If they get better they do more as their ability dictates. This way they have a safety net which in turn is more conducive for healing, as stress will always worsen the illness.
    I don’t know if the woman who crossed the street was delusional, had dementia, or wanted to commit suicide but this is an issue that also could be addressed. On a show awhile back a suicide expert was brought in to comment on signs to watch for. There are a few things that were said that I wanted to comment on. To the best of my memory, one of the signs the expert said was that the suicidal person says he feels alone. The second sign I think was that he feels that the world would be better off without him because he is a burden. I believe the next step recommended by the expert was to get them to a crisis center. I felt this advice was incomplete. There are many people who indeed feel people with mental illness are a burden. So a person who feels they are a burden to society isn’t having a distorted thought. Most people would be unwilling to sit and listen for hours on end to the stressers/circumstances that triggered his brain disease if he has mental illness. Depending on the exact brain disease, the person listening might have to listen to a lot of negative feelings or/and possible distorted thoughts, They would find it very hard to understand that a person can’t cope with their life predicaments as they can if they have not experienced mental illness. Mental illness does place a burden on society through loss of ability to work, family tension/upheaval etc. Depending on the severity it can make a person very dependent on others. However, the illness is not their fault. It is a burden society should strive to accept as it has to accept other diseases. People should be helped while their brain is not functioning and most will do their best to get well to the degree that is possible. Because brain disease takes such a physical toll on the body, some people may not ever be able to be fully functioning again. But in order to accept and integrate them back into society concessions must be made. The person who is ill may have to be allowed very flexible hours. Of course a lot of creative thinking would have to be used to make it work for everyone. It would be good to have people whose only job is compassionate listening so that the mentally ill person doesn’t have to pretend everything is ok when it is not. A suicidal person may feel alone because they really don’t have anyone who wants to be immersed in such a painful things to listen to. Can enough compassionate listeners be found while still watching to make sure they don’t succumb to compassion fatigue at which point they would be harmful rather than helpful to a suicidal person because they couldn’t honestly care anymore? These are tough questions but it may not be as uncomfortable as it seems to hold someone’s hand and listen to help them feel safer.

  23. Janet Davies says:

    I was just told something I feared since the day my precious son was born. Two words paranoid schizophrenia. My brother had it. I am devestated. Right now I am between bouts of crying and numbness. I feel like Ive been told he’s dead. I want to fix it for him but I can’t. How do I deal with this Dr Phil?

  24. Janet Davies says:

    Please if any parent out there is going through this please email any support you know of. I feel like I am in a nightmare.

  25. Annie says:

    Dr. Phil,
    You did exactly what was meant to be done. It came across your path the moment it was meant to and you reacted in kind. If it hadn’t happened the way it did and didn’t continue to bother you, you would have not brought it to your reader’s attention. Because it bothered you, you brought it into the light and with it new awareness.

    A person never knows what they are stepping into out of empathy for others. I see the homeless all the time hanging around the freeway ramps in hopes of getting a bit of cash from sympathetic individuals that pass by. I worry about them getting hit by a vehicle all the time. I use to hand out cash until I read that because we can not determine who is going to use their handouts for alcohol or drugs, it is best to donate to the institutions that are set up to help the homeless.

    Many years ago there was a pleasant homeless gentleman that walked around my neighborhood with all his worldly possessions in a shopping cart. He was well known throughout the area and his name was Stormy. Around Christmas time my family and I made cookies and put a bunch in a tin can for him along with new socks and some beef jerky. He was very happy to receive the gift and it made us feel wonderful. But because we don’t know them all personally it is best for us to donate to the institutions designed for the homeless when we can.

    The poor and mentally ill will always be with us. Their existence teaches those of us who notice them, humility, patience, grace and compassion. I God bless them all.

  26. Mary Ellen Doherty says:

    The homeless mentally ill is such a hugh, hugh problem in our society, we dump these poor souls out of institutions because we really do not want to pay for their care, (my opinion). The states developed state hospitals as a way to take them off the streets,conversely, they found that it would be cheaper to close some of the hospitals and place many of the chronically mentally ill in group homes. The problem with this is that so many of these people really needed the structure that the institutions offered…they really weren’t so bad!! but they were expensive for the states to uphold and so it goes. While working on my Masters Degree in the 80’s I met many “deinstitutionalized patients”, some of them lived in a SRO (an old hotel turned into a single occupancy residents) these people actually recreated a institutional atmosphere in the lobby of their residence. They self assigned chairs and kept them lined up in a certain order, by doing this they developed a feeling of safety in much the way they felt in their previous home, the Institution. Many of these patients told me they missed their home, the Institution were they spent a good portion of their lives. It is a very sad commentary on our society that we do not seem to care for the least of us!

  27. Jana says:

    the mentaly ill on the street is an example of how wonderful our health care system is.

    Maybe Oboma and crew can fix it?

  28. Ashton says:

    I agree with some of the previous posts. You did the most important thing you could’ve done at the time; and that was preserve her life. Who knows what would’ve happened if you hadn’t stopped traffic. For all we know, God could’ve had you there because the person behind you might’ve been distracted at the time. You never know. I don’t think you should beat yourself up about not finding her. I come from an entire family of ministers and we’ve fed and helped plenty of homeless people; most ended up going straight back to where we found them. I think it’s ignorant that someone insulted you for not going back, simply because you may have greater “means” than the average person. That doesn’t make you any more responsible than anyone else on the highway that day. The fact that you let it get to you shows that you’re not a heartless person. You’re a normal human being, just like the rest of us. There will always be things we want to change, and times we wish we “would’ve done more.” That’s life, right? I applaud your efforts and your concern. Your willingness speaks as loud as the actions would have. God bless!

  29. Tracy says:

    Hi Dr. Phil.
    I guess I feel a little bad for reading this and thinking what I would have done.
    I just figured I’d stop in and give my opinion. I would have looked, creeped by so
    I would’nt have startled them and walked on. I feel bad for the homeless but at the same time I would be nervous to stop and talk with them thinking they could be harmful to me. I guess the reason for that is look what our world is full of anymore rapists, pedofiles, serial killers. Sorry for the brutal input but thats what I would have done. I love your show Dr. Phil. Wach it everyday!
    Tracy

  30. Shelley says:

    I appreciate you posting this story and your openess and honesty. I don’t live in the US I live in Canada, but I believe that it is an overall North America problem. It is called a ‘Mind Set’. It would be interesting to do a study in some other less fortunate countries and to see that the % rate of depression is far less. Community is high, material things low, family values high, and faith is high. They tend to take care of their own.
    I spent 9 years in the Mental Health system and had enough when a light bulb went on, on how I ended up in the system in the first place. My husband, now ex, and I were in the ministry and how he was in public vs private was opposite. I had a breakdown trying to change myself to make him happy and he kicked me out when I was in the psyc ward and he had the children. There went my family, church community, ministry basically everything.
    I believe I went through what I went through for a reason. I saw the system. I walk and lived in facilities with the mentally ill. And now I am trying to make it on the outside. Sound like I am convict. Well, discrimination is high on the charts still today. Big time in the churches. That is why the homelessness is high(I understand why). People are staying in facilities when they can get better. (I understand why) Prisons are packed. (I understand why) They can’t make it out in the real world. By they way I have PTSD and a part-time job in home care.

  31. Sharon Radcliff says:

    I am so glad you responded as you did. Every time I see something like this I do my best to be helpful and I always have the thought — “what if this were me?” I am nearing the age where this type of scene is freightening. I always want to do what I would want done for me. I’m not sure why but I have felt this way since my father passed in 1980. I am not embarrassed to ask someone if they need help or step in and do “something” for someone who may be helpless and totally alone in the world.

  32. FosterBoys says:

    Janet,

    That’s exactly how I felt when I found out that my mom was/is paranoid schizophrenic. I felt like she had died. But because she’s still alive, its like I’m living with her ghost. I’m living with who I thought she was or who I hoped she was, but not who she really is. I knew for a long time that she had mental problems, but I never knew the severity until my 20s.
    I can’t talk to her in any meaningful way. Every time I try, she is suspicious of my motives and thinks that I’m attacking her. Unfortunately, due to these tough economic times, she’s living with me and my family right now and conditions are getting worse by the day. I’m the only family that hasn’t cut her out of their lives, but that day is approaching…fast.

  33. FosterBoys says:

    Janet,

    One more thing. I fear this disease for my children as well. It is well-embedded on my mother’s side. It skipped me and my brother. I am TERRIFIED of the ticking time-bomb that lies in my children, and their children…
    I am SO SORRY for what you are going through.

  34. Janet Davies says:

    Thanks Foster. Being I am a mother I go through my mind thinking what did I do to cause this? Maybe I shouldn’t have let him watch “The Wizard of Oz” everyday for a month when he was little. He so loved that movie as I did. Sometimes he would dissappear to his room and reappear dressed like the scarecrow. So adorable. I am still not fully accepting any of this. I really appreciate your thoughts and it made me feel alot better reading them today as now I don’t feel so alone. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your mom. God bless. :)

  35. FAYE C. HINSON says:

    THANK YOU TO ALL THE CARING PEOPLE & ESPECIALLY DR. PHIL WHO HAS THE HEART & ABILITY TO ADDRESS THIS DEEP CONCERN.

    IF YOU SEE MY SON ON THE STREET PLEASE STOP AND FIRST TELL HIM HIS MAMA LOVES HIM AND TALK TO HIM FOR A FEW MIN., MAYBE IF YOU CAN OFFER HIM A MEAL.

    HE IS A WONDERFUL, BRILLIANT MAN, WHO HAS SERVED OUR COUNTRY WELL AS A SOLDIER. CHRYSTAL METH. HAS ABSORBED HIS MIND AND THE ONLY WAY I KNOW TO HELP IS TO LOVE AND PRAY FOR HIM.

    AT&T HAS A WONDERFUL OFFER OF AN 800 # THAT YOU CAN GET THAT DOES NOT COST ANYTHING UNLESS IT IS USED AND CANNOT BE USED TO CALL ANYONE OTHER THAN THE OWNER. IT IS $ .10 /MIN WHERE A PAY PHONE IS $30.00/3 MIN. THIS HAS BEEN A LIFE SAVER TO ME AT LEAST ONCE IN A WHILE HE WILL CALL AND LET ME KNOW HE IS OK.

    I AM SURE THERE IS HELP SOMEWHERE, BUT IT TAKES RESOURSES AND THEY HAVE TO COMMIT TO IT THEMSELVES. THERE HAS ONLY BEEN ONE PLACE THAT HE HAS BEEN THAT THE VETERANS HAS REALLY GOOD PROGRAMS, THAT I KNOW OF AND THAT IS PORTLAND, ORGAN, THANK YOU TO THE SALVATION ARMY AND PORTLAND FOR YOUR HELP.

    BUT, I THANK THE PERSON HE HAS COME IN CONTACT WITH EACH DAY THAT HAS HELPED, EVEN IF YOU JUST SPOKE TO HIM AND SMILED.

    FROM A MAMA THAT NEVER QUITS WONDERING.

  36. sharyn day says:

    dr. phil…this is about alexandra..her prob began at 15 being pregnant & the whole saga with her parents…she never got past that & her family puts the D in dysfunctional she doesnt know how to live she likes the bad boys kinda like her dad..she needs so much love & it looks like no one has given her that except you dr. Phil…her mother rags on her as does katherine…she has 2 beautiful children if she just had a decent job and a safe place to live & transportation she wouldnt need a man and eventually down the road she may mature & mr. Right will find her…she is so beautiful she has an obvious chip on her shoulder i feel just sorry 4 her…her mother has this holier than thou attitude & grantide she is taking careof nathan but in a heartbeat she is ready to off the kid to chris or the grandparents..poor nathan he never asked to be born then she has lalah…dr phil please help alex…u r her only hope…u have helped her her whole life she is like the daughter u never had….god bless u dr. phil & all that u do 4 other human beings.

  37. Jan says:

    Dr Phill,I understand how you feel.I to have run into many homless people.Some you can help,as in buying them a meal.But most have no one to call on.I went to Washington.Homless every where.Sleeping on those grates that lead underground.So steam will blow on them to keep warm.I speaking of dead in winter,snow on the ground.This is near the national monument.Shame before God.So many empty abandon ware housed,apt buildings.They could be fixed for shelter.But greedy people would rather let them fall to the ground,than use them for a greater good.Theres no help.Most shelters,small as they are .Are over run.I have given many rides there ,an only for the people to be turned away.Many are V,Vets.Whats up with them fighting for us,seeing,an being damaged by war,an the things they have seen.They have no homes.Turning to drinking,an drugs.To hide their shame.I know a woman,her mom,an child,was sleeping on a river bank,washing in the river.Couldnt afford a place to stay.Man under bridge,scared to come out.A Old Judge in Nashville,wife was shot in bank robbery.He was homeless,with a old dog following him around.People would film him,but no one helped.One woman i tried to help was so scared,she ran from me.They fell on bad luck somewhere,it devistated them.Now just cant get up again.Many have mental illnesses,many just have broken hearts.The world has forgotten them.Whats going on in this world,when we are helping every one around the world.An in our own home America,many are going hungry,an sleeping in the streets.Nashville in winter,they would be found dead under piles of snow.In doorways of buildings,under bridges.Robbed on the 3rd when they get that little 2/3 hundred a month.Robbed before they get their first meal of the mo.down.By dearlicks hanging out in the streets.So they have nothing.God he;p America,judgements going to fall upon this land for whats happening here.I live in Myrtle Beach,in summer here,homeless blend in.Washing at public swimming pool showers,an eating out of whats left by travelers.

  38. Jan says:

    Hey its Jan again.Wouldnt it be nice.To have Long Trucks,an busses.Installed with shower,hair cutting place.Cloths racks.Food kitchen.So someone who could travel.Could go from town,to town.Helping them get a meal,washed,an hair cut,clean cloths.Then have some on with a buss,to arrange,to take them to get mental help.Housing for a few months,untill they started drawing a check.An could rent rooms of their own==I know wishful thinking. Theres enough rich people in this world who could help.If nothing else.Circus tents could be put up,with cots.To give them safe sleeping for the night. Until,the mentally ill,could be seperated from those who just have addictions.Kind of like the tents we send over seas,in a crises.For people to live in until,they can return home after wars.LOL I GUESS DONALD TRUMP WONT HELP!!!

  39. D. Murawn says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    I believe you did more than most would. I also have a different perspective not addressed here–that is, you felt that you didn’t “succeed” in helping because you could not find her upon your return. But, you stopped the traffic and made drivers aware of the situation in the first place and maybe saved the lives of others that helped her after you left. Your heart wanted you to return. But, in that space of time, you may have put the exact driver in place to take notice and maybe she was taken to a facility or hospital for help. She may be in a shelter on the way to an apartment. Or maybe, one of the drivers, even took it upon themselves to take her in.
    Do not dismiss the act of compassion for naught or error. You may receive good news one day that she is taken care of because of all that transpired from that situation and the way it happened. God Bless.

    Also, you didn’t have to write that in your blog, but your honesty and integrity remains as always for our insight and dialogue. You always address issues head-on and I have always admired that. Faithful Fan.

    Also, would you please do a show on fetal alcohol syndrome? This has not been a topic of interest in the news and seems hidden. Specifically, the adult symptoms that engulf vague symptoms to trouble with education or work or coworkers or depression. Some, have mild facial deformities, and yet no trouble with motor skills and do fine depending on the stage of the mother when she drank. The public ridicules these souls based on what they see. Some are very high-functioning and are the sweetest, and yet, the public treats them as outcasts and terms such as “crazy” and “retarded.” When in fact, the people calling these misdiagnoses should be called on to answer about their so-called “normalcy.”

    Many, suffer so many varying symptoms, some do not even know why they suffer. Some don’t know what they have or characteristics or they were lied to about the mother’s drinking. As we know, alcoholics like to keep everything a secret. All those issues are compounded onto the child of the alcoholic. It is no wonder, many can’t sort out their mental health issue.

    Please do an update on this disorder. Thank you for all your hard work and your genuine approach to the complicated lives we lead.

    Also, I know I am asking much, but a show on “snitching” too? I am tired of the negativity that goes with this. Where is the boundaries for the right time to tell or not? This carries over into adulthood, too. When is it okay to stand up for a situation and not be labeled, “a tattletale”? Are our ethical lines drawn differently in the sand? Would one person do something another would not? I know so many coworkers that will whine about everything, and yet when in a situation where they could raise the issues, no one says anything. I used to, until I got the label. So, I am asking if you told a supervisor about a matter and this leaked out and received retaliation. Do you never tell again or how to you know what is correct. I believe, this is another gray area for most. Thanks Again!!!!

    Also, I would like to know if you

  40. D. Murawn says:

    Dear Jan:
    I think you are onto something there! Seems like it would be more global and the gypsy nature of the homeless. You could go to where they are and less humiliating for them. Like those rolling clinics.
    DM

  41. shannon says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I am outraged that you didn’t stop as a mental health professional and help this woman get the help she needed. I am wondering if this was my sister who is classified as a Schizophrenic and walking around aimlessly if you would have ignored that also as a professional? You have a duty to the mentally ill. My mother had bipolar and she always had our family hide it to many people including my teachers, friends and everyone we came into contact with. She was embarrassed and it was the family secret. My sister was a family secret also while I was growing up. There needs to be more done for these people. Am I afraid of a person with a mental illness no. I just realize they need help. I would have stopped the car and gotten her some help. I have driven a guy from the men’s shelter where I live to the state he lived in and yes I knew he was mentally ill. He never did one thing wrong, he was scared and full of fright. When I got him to where he was supposed to go nobody wanted him. The sheriff got him and took him and got him the help he needed. Dr. Phil you could have done more for this woman. Shame on our doctors that don’t do more. I am wondering what you would have done if this was Robin or one of your son’s mother in law’s? This woman was possibly someone’s mother, sister, daughter. I hope that something like this never happens to you.

  42. Joan says:

    Dr Phil,
    I was in a similar situation as that woman you spoke about. I wasn’t pushing a cart but I was homeless with a child. We slept in a car. We finally found a shelter that would take us and one that accommodates people in wheelchairs. We were lucky, we now have a house that we rent and are back on our feet. If it happened to me it could happen to anyone.

  43. Jean Baron says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I took care of Mom for 9 years. On Dec 4th 2007, Mom was diagnosed with colon cancer. Well, Sept 5th 2009, Mom passed away and then came the bills which I paid plus the regular bills, utilities, etc. When I was all done, I was looking at 2 empty bank accounts! I didn’t know what to do! So, I revamped all my resumes and started looking for a job. I got some interviews, no offers. So, as the new bills arrived, I called everybody and told them that I was having a little problem, but I would pay everyone and that they should work with me and we would get through this together. On Thanksgiving Eve, I got a certified letter from my mortgage company telling me that I must pay the 2 missing payments by Dec 22! If I don’t pay this, they will foreclose. Now, the premium is too high for this house, so I figured I would move to my Mom’s house. I have a reverse mortgage on Mom’s house (to help with the medical bills), but I must give proof of payment for house insurance, flood insurance and taxes. I need $1,152 to pay the house Flood insurance. If I don’t give proof of payment, they are going to force a Flood insurance with a premium of $2,829.32! Dr. Phil I am living on less than $1000 alimony per month. Sometime, I only have a slice bread and a cup tea for my meal. I’m so scared. I am afraid of losing both houses and at 64-yr-old being forced to live in the streets. I am presently an intern in medical transcribing, training to be a listing agent for the online auction houses, and I am a distributor for HerbaLife, but have no money to buy the product for demonstration purposes. I hold a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling, but there are no jobs available right now. Do you know of any group that could lend me the money for the Flood insurance and maybe $768 for the tax on Mom’s house. I am desperate because I know with my arthritic joints, I won’t survive in the streets.

  44. JJSherman says:

    Dr. Phil:

    In each and everyone or our life time, there would be a question to , if and why didn’t we do this and do that. I came here to this country at the age of 20 with five jars of baby food and two cans of powder milk a 17 month year old baby and no money in my pocket. While living in my country I had a Mother and Step-Father who didn’t allow me to live in their home, when people who felt like it would allow me to sleep in their homes I did, and when they didn’t well I and my infant son slept in the cemetery. Many day’s I went hungry and was teased and ridiculed by my Mom, who called me everything in the book, but her daughter. After saving and holding onto the money my son Father give to me, when he did give it to me, and with the help of one of his sister she purchased his milk, food and clothing I was able to save enough money to get a round-trip ticket to Miami from the Bahamas. To make a long story short, my plans was to make my way to Chicago, which I did in less than a month. There I lived with a woman whom I thought was my friend, who then made me leave her home, because I asked her not to throw the chicken bone on the floor which I was the one who was doing the cleaning. There we was homeless again. Well in 2003 I travel to the Bahamas to bring my Mom here to the US after hearing that my sister and her daughters was abusing my Mom, in spite of the way she had treated me, I went to see about her. In April of 2008 I came here to CA by invatation of a so called friend who told me that I could get medical help for my Mom, but on our way coming here she contacted me on my cell phone telling me that she didn’t want my Mom in her home, then she called me back in less than 15 minutes telling me that the only way that we could walk through her door was that I had to have $500.00 a piece to get through the doors of her home, my eldest son whom I brought here from the Bahamas as a baby said to me “Mom what are we going to do” I then replied to him have faith the same God who has kept us when he was a baby would keep us now. We ended up in Lancaster, CA where he knew a lady who said we only could remain in her home for two days, I then told him that I had saw a Mason’ Lodge because my son is a third degree Mason, he decided to walk down to the lodge to seek help for us, he then called me back and said that they would help us, they allowed us to live in the back of the lodge in an old RV, imagine an old woman 85 years old, with severe arthritis having to go all the way into a building to use the toilet, mean while my son decided to go back into the military because he said this is where he can be able to help me with my Mom, but instead he went back and I hardly hear from my son, that day before my son left one of his lodge brothers said to him that they didn’t want us there, mean while I kept on telling him that the people was being very mean to me, but he covered for them making excuse that it wasn’t so, until that day. About a month after my son reenlisted back into the Army we then left Lancaster and moved to San Bernardino, CA where my Mom became ill on Feb 11th 2009 and she passed away on May 11th 2009, Dr. Phil my Mom Ashes is still at the Coroners I cannot afford to lay them to rest, not only that I have been looking for a job but cannot get a job, everywhere I go to seek employment I am asked if I can speak Spanish, I went to the DMV to get a CA drivers license, but they refuse to except my FL license, they asked me for my citizenship papers or passport, but my Mom destroyed them and I don’t have the money to get my papers or passport. I have no friends my son’s don’t even care, I have no one to turn to, I lay in my bed and wonder am I going to die alone, today I spoke to my son in the military and he stood silent on the phone just like he always do, then he told me that he was in a snow storm and had to go. I know that he don’t want to hear what I have to say, the same son that I travel so far with and stood by I know after he came from Iraq and stayed at the house with me and my Mom he told me that he needed his own space, and wanted to go and have a room mate with a friend of his, he then brought the topic up to one of his Mason brothers, and he told me that his Mason brother told him that if he left me struggling with his Grand-Mother, he would never respect him ever again. But I asked him about this now how could he not call to see if I am okay, and how could he sleep at night not wondering how I am doing. Dr Phil I have no one, I feel like I am illegal here in the US I cannot return back to the Bahamas, because I have no one there as well. I wonder where do I belong, I have written to everyone asking them to please help me, and no one cares. I have written to the first Lady who promised to be there for the Military family, and havent heard an answer from her, and this has been before my Mom got sick and passed away. The story about that woman in the streets with her shopping cart maybe she is not aware of how her life is, and maybe that is good, for she is at peace, I am not homeless now, but the little things that people take for granted, having clean clothes, a warm coat for winter, a decent shoe to wear to keep the cold off of their feet, I don’t have. I receive $870.00 per month for Social Security and SSI the Gov cut not just my SSI but many people in the state of CA, but after paying my shelter, I don’t have money to wash my clothes or purchase lotion for my body. Just the other day I was down to one roll of toilet paper, and a lady who I meet at this church came by and brought me three rolls of toilet paper. What does this do to me mentally it tears everything good inside of me, I have became a Hermit, I have learned not to trust people for the way that I have been treated, I have cried out to God in all his mercy asking what did I do to have to suffer like this, I can remember from I was two years old when the abuse began in my life, I have suffered and inspite of people being mean and hateful to me, I have never turned away from anyone in the streets to not put something in my hand even if it was my last, but still I suffer. Everyone speaks about the economy, this what is going on is not about the economy it is the people who makes up the world, and how we treat each other and respond to one another is what the society is all about. There is a me; me mentality out here, and there is enough in the world where people shouldn’t have to loose their home, and children shouldn’t have to go hungry, but they do. The economy would change if we the people would change, I look at my situation, but when I see the number of people who are in worst condition than what I am I remember to thank the Lord in all of his glory for carrying me, for I know it is he who carry me, for in his words he said that all will fail me, but he never will. I would like to meet you one day and tell you my life story, and you would be amaze to wonder how it is that I have not lost my mind. I know I am no one to you, just a viewer, but I am a child of a loving God just as you are, maybe that is my way of saying you are much loved for I do watch your show. I look at that Mother and her daughter on your show and I see how rebellious she is towards her Mom, I would of given anything to have a Mother like she has and she don’t appreciate it at all, I would do anything for you Dr. Phil to have answered my email when I wrote to you for help and she is so ungrateful, but in spite of it all I pray for her and ask that by you airing her story would allow a light to come on into all the ungrateful people who has Mothers who are loving and caring my Mother give me birth, but she never give me love, and in closing she abused me three days before she died, but because of the heart that Jesus give me I still love her even in death, I often sit and wonder is she at peace with God, I dream about her smiling and happy, maybe that is her way of telling me she’s finally at peace. I don’t know, but I often wonder, you may ask why I wonder and I simply say to you because in spite of all the mean and hateful things that she had put me through she was my Mother and I love her. God states in his commandments “Honor thy Mother and Father, that thy day’s will be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” he simply said to do that he didn’t say not to honor them if they abuse you, but to honor them. Another Christmas and I am alone, and I sit and wonder why do I wonder, because I don’t know nothing else but to wonder.

  45. Jennifer says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I too struggle with situations like this. I am usually not able to do anything because my kids are with me and I believe the risk is too great to them. But even when their not I am confused about what I should do mainly because I want to help someone and I want my money to be put to good use. I have had a couple of experiances where I tried to help but the person wanted something else, for example; One time I was leaving walmart and a family with 2 children were standing outside with a sign saying “lost job and hungrey”. There was a mcdonalds right there so I went and got 2 happy meals for the kids and value meals for the parents. I felt so bad for them especially with having kids I had to do something. Anyway I went back got out of my car and said here you go. And to my shock they refused it and said they wanted money! I said well at least let the kids have the happy meals and they even refused that! I was so frustrated and down right mad that someone could be so selfish and deceiving! I have had several occurances like that, and everytime I see someone holding a sign like that I ask myself do they really need it or do they just want other peoples hard earned money? I have a hard time helping people I see on the street now. It kills me but I don’t know what to do. So I feel your pain I deal with the same mental debate all the time.

  46. Kristie says:

    Dr Phil, I think what happened prooves that you are human. You may be wealthy, but you are also human. You have the opportunity to share with your viewers certain situations that need to be voiced, or advertisted. It is celebrities that often bring things to the media that can make ordinary people make changes to their lives or be influenced to make a difference.
    You handled a situation in a very fast and responsible way. I think it is when we analyze the situation and critically think about what happened or what could have happened is when our guilt or questions arrive. We feel bad for those homeless people, or wonder what may have happened to them, why are they like that? If I do anything, will it help. One question that crossed my mind was, would our views for that individual be different if we were passing a man? I think so. I think because she was a woman, it makes a difference as well. The wheelchair, sure. I think that even though we want to live in a better society, people still act human. This little situation has caused many people to voice their views. I know I can’t cast the first stone. However, we can continue to do our best for the next situation and try to do better. I think that this has caused people to think about what and how they could help someone else in need! I think that you have done all you could have done, and then some!

  47. juneflower says:

    I lived in Manhattan for 6 years. I always loved living there until I saw something that made me feel differently. I had graduated from college and snagged a great job at a multinational law firm. One of the perks of my job was every month they would order pizza for everyone for dinner. On one of these days I decided to take some pizza home since I wasn’t hungry at the time it was delivered. I was waiting in the subway when I saw what was obviously a homeless man shuffling threw the station. He reached a trash can and began to dig threw it. I watched in horror as he ate something that he found. He then moved along to another trash can nearby and began looking threw that one. I looked around me and saw that other people had noticed too but they all turned away. Some were disgusted, some were clearly feeling sorry for him, some looked guilty and others were just walking away so they would not have to pretend to see. I was more disturbed by the fact that people were ignoring another human beings misery because it made them uncomfortable, then by the fact that someone was hungry enough to eat trash. Although, I was upset by that. Somehow people ignoring it was worse. It was like they thought he deserved to eat trash. Without thinking about it, I approached him and offered him my pizza that I has been planning to take home. He took it and shuffled off and I never felt the same about living there. A year later I left and moved to another state and into the country. I couldn’t imagine what kind of people would pretend not to see something and do nothing when they had so much. I hope my pizza helped, I wished I could have done more.

  48. marie stassin says:

    Dr. Phil. You are human. hindsight is 20/20. I carry a lease in my car to rescue strays or animals in harms way and i use it, don;t be too hard on yourself. You did do plenty when youblocked traffic. (dr. Marie) just kidding, marie sb

  49. Jamie Fitzsimmons says:

    I believe you did the right thing. You made sure she crossed the road safely. You came back. Maybe if they made Homelessness against the law these people would not be on the streets and help would be given to them. Sometimes you cannot ask for help if you are mentally ill and on the streets. They make petty laws, so why not something to help the Homeless Community not be considered a Community anymore. Homelessness should not be an Option, there should always be a way out or in this case a way IN. Lots of Love, Jamie

  50. Wisconsin Family says:

    Dear Dr Phil. I understand why you did not stop and were not prepared.

    We all go about our lives in the usual fashion day to day glimpsing at others lives briefly as we go but fairly absorbed in our own stuff… Even though we know things are outt here eists homelessness , drugs etc.. unless we are touched by it directly it often is not real to us.

    I can say this because I am 44 yrs old, college educated and came from a family of business owners and was raised in a family where money was not a problem.

    When I was 34 yrs old with a 5 yr old child and husband.. a realestate purchase went bad and we ended up homeless. We lost our savings, our belongings and our home all within 10 days. I never saw it coming , never ever thought it would ever be me…
    That was 10 years ago and we are still struggling to make it.. the actions the very unethical actions of one person back then basically defined our duaghter life to this point and ours and really ruined much of our lives.

    Ending up homeless began a long series of events that have lead us to where we are today. I have found soe good in that but more bad than good.

    Im telling you this.. and this is only a small part of the story but I am telling you this because Even though we were homeless .. I wouold not have stopped for that person.

    I have worked as a Nurse and also with Mental Health and Was homeless and I would have been uprepared too and I would not have stopped. I would have had my safety and health on my mind and that of anyone with me.

    Having said that it would have bothered me greatly to have not stopped and I would have probably called some agencies who maybe could have helped. I dont know. We live in a smaller area in Wisconsin an we even see homeless here.. BUT
    there are plenty of shelters and warming places here and so when I see them out begging here I do not feel bad passing them because I know they are out there of choice because there are places for them here.. I dont know if that is the case where you live.

    So I wanted to share my thoughts on this with you. We have quite an interesting story feel free to contact us if you ever desire to know more! :0)

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