Dr Laura is a Hypocrite. And a Twit.

A horrible, cringey Call of the Day from Dr Laura’s show was shared with me on Twitter. Like jaw-droppingly horrible. Like you want to wash your ears out with a Brillo pad horrible.

Dr Laura is the opposite of kind.

I remember hearing about Dr Laura Schlessinger decades ago, but I wasn’t aware she’s still a thing. Really?? People still get assvice from her?

She’s a twit. But not just a harmless, silly twit, but a clever, intentionally mean twit. Why am I using this word? It’s not one I can recall ever using before. It’s unkind and demeaning.

Therapy Through Insults & Interruptions

Here’s why I’m using it on Dr Laura. Because SHE used it 8 times on her Caller of the Day. 8 times in a 5 minute call.

Besides resorting to pejoratives, Dr Laura’s advice around parentage is fantastically misguided. It’s hard to believe that someone who has ever studied best practices in therapy and counseling would resort to shaming, name-calling, interrupting, and belittling — especially around the issue of truth-telling — as she does to caller Torri.

You can listen to these 5 minutes here. Brace yourself.

Caller: My Mom never told me the truth about my Dad

Caller Torri starts with this:

I am unsure of how to continue on in how to have a relationship with my mother. I found out last September that my dad, the man who raised me, is not my biological father. It has become a rift between my mother and I.

I’m not a therapist, but any half-twit knows that if someone comes to you with a problem, you first listen. Then you empathize and get into their space. You make sure the person feels heard and understood.

Not Dr Laura. Instead, she becomes incredulous and combative.

Dr Laura: Why? Why? Why? Is the guy who raised you nice?
Caller: Yes, he is.
Dr Laura: So. Let me understand this. Don’t babble at me. You wanna dump a mother who made you with one guy — obviously he couldn’t have been the greatest guy in the universe — he wasn’t there. And then she found a nice guy to raise you. And you’re pissed at her? What the hell is wrong with you?

Is Dr Laura saying that it’s okay to lie if someone is nice?

More Anti-Therapeutic Techniques

Torri tries to explain, but Dr Laura keeps cutting her off in order to rant.

Caller: I’m upset because she lied to me about it for —
Dr Laura: So what! So what! Who gives a shit? That’s her private life! She gave you a wonderful man to raise you whom you consider your daddy. What if you’d been adopted? Who the hell cares? She did the wrong thing with a jerk, and then she did the right thing with the guy who raised you. I seriously would rather smack you across the head than anything else right now, you ungrateful little twit. You insensitive, ungrateful twit.

Dr Laura doesn't walk the talk on truth.
Dr Laura is selective about the value of truth.

Let’s take a look at what else has been added here.

  • First we had lying is okay from nice people.
  • Now we also have a physical threat — “smack you across the head.”
  • …as well as one of the many words adoptees tell us is painful: ungrateful. Dr Laura seems to imply that because Torri wasn’t raised by the jerk she should have only feelings of gratitude.

I’m not a therapist, but any half-twit knows that you really can’t talk someone out of a feeling they are having. Insistence, threats, and shame are not going to lead to emotional resolution.

Lying Means Bonding & Security?

The call continues.

Dr Laura: You wanna counter with anything? I’m dying to hear your counter.
Caller: No. I respect my Dad for so much. I was just very disappointed in my mom for never —
Dr Laura: You’re a twit for saying that. You’re a twit for repeating it.
There aren’t too many people who, when they do something incredibly stupid, walk around with a sign. Number 2, she repaired it beautifully. And if she had called to ask me whether or not she should tell you, I would have said NO because I would have wanted you to stay incredibly bonded to this wonderful man who also didn’t tell you the truth. Because they both wanted to take care of you and make you feel secure and loved. What crappy parents they were. You better get on your knees and BEG your mother to forgive you.

Dr Laura has a strange relationship with truth.
Dr Laura preaches truth but advocates for lies.

Let’s Break that Down

Did you get all that? Dr Laura certainly packs a punch.

  • More twit-flinging.
  • Hurling “stupid” at her caller.
  • Stay bonded to people who lie.
  • Lying = security.
  • They weren’t wrong; Torri was. And she, the victim, is the one who must seek forgiveness.

Caller: My mom and I have continued our relationship —
Dr Laura: You BEG your mother to forgive you…for being a twit. I mean it. You owe her to beg her for forgiveness. She did exactly the right thing.
Caller: OK. Thank you.

That’s the last we hear from Torri, who completed exactly one sentence in the entire 5 minutes. She apparently gets off the call, but Dr Laura keeps muttering to herself.

Acceptance means you stop fighting reality. Dr Laura is inconsistent.
Does Dr Laura have a consistent guiding principle?

Dr Laura: You’re a lucky girl. Stop acting like a complete brat. You have no idea how lucky you are, clearly. She could have stayed with that bastard she made you with. Would have like to have heard that call from you.
My number is 1-800 [IMA-TWIT]. I’m gonna make that a Call of the Day. I know it’s gonna raise a lot of hackles.
You are one lucky girl and don’t even know it. What a silly twit.
“I don’t know if I’m going to continue the relationship with my mother because she didn’t tell me that she made me with a piece of shit and then found a wonderful man to raise me by and I should have known all the time all of this because it would have made my life much smoother and better.”
Hmmmm. …My number, 1-800 [IMA-TWIT].

My notes:

  • What a peculiar brand of validation (“stop acting like a complete brat.”)
  • You’re lucky you had people hiding your truth from you.
  • More twittaging. More demeaning.

Makes you wanna be Dr Laura’s next victim, doesn’t it?

What Say You?

I do understand that Dr Laura is 99% entertainer and possibly a fraction of a % therapist, if even that. The point here wasn’t to actually help Torri, but to make a trainwreck out of someone’s situation. I fell for it, and maybe I sucked you in, too. But as one of my wise adoptee friends tells me, this is what adoptees deal with regularly.

It’s important that we, especially the non-adopted, learn to sense these microaggressions and call them out.

Now that we’ve heard Dr Laura’s assvice, let’s open it up to yours.

What would you suggest Torri do about a hurting relationship with her mom for not telling her sooner the truth about her dad?

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Don't be a hypocrite, Dr Laura.
Dr Laura preaches kindness but…

More Assvice-Giving Experts

More on Adoption Telling: It’s 2020. Why do we still suck at it?

Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute.

42 thoughts on “Dr Laura is a Hypocrite. And a Twit.”

  1. Thank you for writing this, I was beyond both confounded and furious – that poor caller having to listen to the words of someone, who based solely on that response, is way beyond her best by date.

    I’d recommend the caller ask her mom to go for a walk, just the two of them and ask her to tell her, her story and also ask why she never told her the truth.

    1. This. I vote that TAO gets Dr. Laura’s funding and sponsorship so that someone can actually provide worthwhile, sound advice. #defundDrLaura.

  2. The first thing I thought of, after being surprised Dr Laura is still a thing, was the caller deserves to know her medical information. What if her bio fathers family has a genetic trait that could end in disaster for the caller, or if she ever needs a bone marrow transfer etc. it’s her right to know her background.

    The caller and her mother have to have a long conversation even it it is hard, with no judgements on either side.

      1. What you posted infuriated me so much I refuse to listen to the call! I had no idea “Dr.” Schlesinger was still even around, but she definitely should NOT be. First of all, this poor woman’s VERY valid feelings were completely invalidated. Secondly, it seems the “Dr.” made some huge ASSumptions – how does she know Tori’s birth father was/is a “jerk?” What if he doesn’t even know he has a child? It’s these celebrity “therapists (I clump “Dr.” Phil and “Dr.” Drew Pinksy) who do more damage then good. How I wish you could find Tori so her feelings could be validated! 🤬

        This article from 2010 shows just what a “twit” she is.
        https://genprogress.org/dr-laura-schlessinger/

  3. Is there a number we can call to complain and potentially get her off the air? (A girl can dream, right?)

    I didn’t know Dr. Laura was still a thing, either. Her show persona is that of a terrible human being. Why would anyone want to talk to her at all?

    GAH!

    Torri, if you somehow find this, you are not wrong. You are not a twit. You are not ungrateful. Your mother lied to you, and she is in the wrong here. Of course it’s become a rift. She owes you your story and should beg your forgiveness. And it’s up to you if you feel she deserves that.

  4. Geez – who knows what to tell that poor girl? Did she even get her story out? There may have been many details confounding the relationship with her mother, the least of which was lying about where her genetic material originated! (That said, Torri has every right to be angry, to pursue her truth, and to manage the relationship with her mother however she sees fit. It may mean cutting her off until Torri is calm enough to address it best. Only Torri knows what she needs – she probably just needs some help in figuring that out and how to get it.)

    Dr. Laura is a waste of electrons on the airwaves. I am so disgusted that people continue to give her attention. To call her a twit is being kind – and if she has any credentials as a psychologist, they should be revoked after that performance.

    1. I really does make me wonder if she holds a current license to practice as a therapist. I can’t believe any governing body would consider her approach on this anything but worst practice.

  5. I may have missed something but did Torri say her biological father was awful? All I heard from Dr. Twit was how terrible and awful a man he was and how wonderful and terrific the stepdad must have been for lying to her and raising her. What if the first dad never even knew she existed? The mom is clearly not one to tell the truth, so maybe she hid it all from a man who never got a chance to decide to be involved. There is so much unknown because instead of listening, Dr. Twit bullied the caller. I hope Torri is able to find some advice and someone to talk to about a very complicated and difficult issue.

    1. Oooh, you picked up on something I missed, Ashley. Dr Laura made that assumption out of thin air! Another worst practice to add to the collection.

      Good catch, and right on about raising the possibility that the bio father may be as much a victim in this as much as Torri.

  6. I believe that her response is indefensible and unethical. Dr. Laura should have her license revoked–if she has one. At the minimum, she deserves an official reprimand from her licensing entity.

  7. Radio/TV therapists are about as real as reality TV. IE: not at all. Odds are the caller was a fake set up by the show to give ‘Dr.’ Laura an easy target. Stuff that makes her fans happy to hear – they love hearing someone knocked down for not being grateful for whatever. These shows are made to spread hate, rage, feelings of being superior and the like. There is a reason these are very popular in certain areas, but not others. Dr. Laura and the like have a few fans up here in Canada but not enough to sustain a show like hers.

    1. I knew it was more for entertainment, but I hadn’t thought that calls might even be staged.

      So even if Torri was a shill, Dr Laura is still solidifying what people “know” about adoption — that heritage doesn’t matter, that truth doesn’t matter, that adoptees should be grateful. I find that unconscionable.

    1. She has 1.7 million followers on her Facebook page. It’s a shame that so many people will think she’s giving good advice on this, that Truth shouldn’t matter to a person as long as they are surrounded by Nice.

  8. The sheer vehemence of her response was appalling.

    Sadly, adoptees in general (especially online or in the media) have often heard similar. For example, adoptees trying to open records in various US states have had all sorts of crap thrown at them. There have been news articles by people like Shaaren Pine where 90% of the 600 responses seemed to be along the lines of “You ungrateful little minx”.

    There seems to be a feeling amongst many in the general population that any “non-adoption cheerleader” behaviour by adoptees is spitting in the eyes of their parents. The donor conceived probably face it even worse.

    1. You were one of the early ones, c b, who helped me to understand the problem with “ungrateful” many adoptees have.

      And yes, it does seem like in our construct of adoption, if an adoptee isn’t all in cheerleading for adoption, and if they dare look at the construct with a critical eye, they are disloyal and ungrateful.

  9. Also she trashed the biological father without knowing a thing about him. As someone pointed out in a comment, what if no-one told him?

    Also, it is not just the mother’s “private life”, it is half of Torri’s genetic make-up. She deserves to know what “makes her her” in all ways and it is up to Torri to decide what relevance all those parts have, not for others to decide for her.

    Btw from Laura’s website, it sounds like she doesn’t think much of “medical reasons” for wanting to know about birth family, a quote re an adoptee she spoke to:

    “Although she is very close to and loving with her adoptive family, she was quite interested in knowing something about her birth mother and father – for medical history reasons (I never quite believe that, considering the technology available today for diagnoses) and for curiosity’s sake.”

    1. Never underestimate the power of knowing a bit about your biological family. My girls all wanted to know. Good and bad. It helps with a sense of self and belonging in the world I have found for them. Sadly too many want the fantasy that TV and movies used to portray (and still do) that once adopted you can forget the past and never think of it again. To be super-thankful that people took you in. I never, ever ask my kids to be thankful I took them in. I tell them they helped us as we wanted children and they became ours. That we wish they didn’t need to come to us, that a perfect world would’ve resulted in them being able to grow up without the disruption adoption caused. Sadly it isn’t a perfect world, but people like Dr. Laura think adoptees need to be thankful they weren’t dumped on the street or something. Terrible way to live – to think that people need to be down on their knees bowing to others for not treating them like scum.

      1. Ahh, yes. Adoptees know that adoption isn’t a one-time event any more than marriage is (the wedding yes, but the marriage is ongoing. One adoptee explained it to me: Yes, I was adopted back then. And I’m also adopted today, and I have been every day in between. Just like you were married back then, and you’re married today.). But so many who don’t have the lived experience of being adopted think it’s a one-time event.

    2. Genealogy wouldn’t be among the top hobbies (#2, I think) if everyone — not just adoptees — didn’t find it important to them. Point is, no one should have to cite medical reasons for wanting to know who they are and their origins going back back back. People shouldn’t have to cite any reasons to follow their curiosity about themselves.

  10. There is absolutely NOTHING appropriate, educable, or even basically humanly compassionate about Dr. Laura’s response. NOTHING.

    She repeatedly interrupted, talked over, dismissed, and railroaded the caller.

    On a professional therapist/counselor level, it was downright unethical and biased and inflammatory.

    I hope, beyond hope, to John N’s point above, that it WAS just a plant, a shill. Because if poor Tori really WAS seeking help, “Dr.” Laura just shamed her into retreat and silence. Over something that COULD HAVE BEEN handled so differently.

    Like, “Tori, I’m sorry that you were lied to. That must really feel painful. Have you sat down with your mother to talk about how that feels and where you two can or should go from here? If nothing else, you deserve to know your biological/medical history. How can you get to that minimum expectation with your mother and start to repair that rift?”

    Damn. This call made me UNREASONABLY angry and my mother-heart feels ready to go to the mat for Tori.

    1. Your words are so much kinder and wiser, Tracy, and would have been so much more effective. How wonderful it would be if Torri made her way here to see some actual advice.

  11. I’m shocked “Dr.” Laura is still a thing.

    This, obviously, was terrible advice. Poor Torri. She has every right to be upset. Then she called someone for advice, and that person added shame to the many feelings she already was experiencing.

    The caller’s story reminds me of the the memoir “Inheritence.” The writer of that book found herself in a somewhat similar story, with all the same emotions. Laura should read it, and find some empathy. If that is even possible.

    UGHHHHHH.

  12. Dr. Laura is awful. I didn’t realize she was still around. Somehow, I’ve gotten to completely miss her orbit for the last 12 years or so, and my world has been better for it.

  13. Ol’ Dr. Laura.

    I didn’t even know the victim-blaming, Queen of Shame was still around. Her rhetoric continues to be irresponsible. Even if it is staged. Let’s remember that Laura’s doctorate is in Physiology, not Psychology. While she does have a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology (circa 1980), I’m guessing her license isn’t current nor has she educated herself on relevant clinical issues since the 80’s. Let’s also remember that she is no longer on main stream radio due to her racist, homophobic, inhuman views and comments.

    All that said, this call is a great example of projection (the caller Tori should be grateful and feel lucky based on Dr. Laura’s apparent view that truth and transparency are not relevant and lying in a family is acceptable). Dr. Laura also assumes that that Tori wants to “dump” her mother yet Tori never mentions that. Dr. Laura also assumes (without it ever being said) that Tori’s biological father is a “jerk” and a “bastard.” What if the mom left him? What if he doesn’t even know about Tori. What if he’s dead? Last, Dr. Laura let’s her longtime views about someone’s adoption status staying a secret be known: “What if you had been adopted?”

    My mother used to have Dr. Laura playing on the car radio when she picked me up from grade school. On more than one occasion, callers would call in and ask a question about their feelings or curiosity around having been adopted. On more than one occasion Dr. Laura would swiftly interrupt with her demands for the caller to be grateful they were “saved.” Dr. Laura also liked to remind callers who were adopted, “You are lucky you weren’t sucked down a sink.”

    That one really stuck with me as it was difficult for my 9 year old brain to understand. We didn’t talk about adoption in my family but Dr. Laura’s message rang loud and clear in my young ears. I should be grateful and should not think about adoption.

    It’s taken a long time to unlearn.

    Maybe Dr. Laura should get up to speed and talk with adoptees about the importance of biology and stop spreading her uneducated and ridiculous drivel.

  14. Oh boy, this touches on so many nerves! I had NO IDEA Dr. Laura was still out there, like an evil spirit who refuses to be smudged or exorcised away. Ick. I couldn’t listen to the actual call because your transcript raised my blood pressure so much I was like, NOPE, I don’t want to hear her voice spewing such meanness. And I totally agree with those who see that she’s made a huge assumption…

    I feel so badly for Torri, who called to get some advice and compassion and instead was bullied, not allowed to speak, and probably left feeling somehow to blame for the whole thing. Which is sooooo wrong. Enter really long story:

    So, there is a situation in my family where a mother knew that one daughter’s paternity was different and lied about it until the daughter and father who raised her got a DNA test when she was 20 or so, and it proved without a shadow of a doubt that there was a biological father out there somewhere. The father who raised her raised other children not biologically his own through his second wife, from birth (weird story for another time), and really did n’t have an issue with that part. It was the LYING that was a problem. There was a big confrontation, and a walk where the mother was confronted with the irrefutable evidence of the lifetime of lies, and it DID NOT GO WELL. There was trying to say it wasn’t known, but then when the biological father was found there was not a shadow of a doubt that you could ignore it (spitting image). AND, it turns out the biological father didn’t know, and the daughter had all these half brothers that she didn’t get to know and a whole medical history that she needed. It wasn’t a totally happy ending, the biological father had some issues and having an insta-relationship as father-daughter isn’t really realistic, but the reverberations with the mother were and continue to be insane. Lots of “how dare you contact him” and “I don’t see why we have to drag my past through the mud” and “you had a father growing up, that’s all that counts” and requests to NOT display photos of the biological family in the daughter’s own adult house decades later.

    All of that OF COURSE would cause a rift. A mother may make a mistake, may have a situation that they hide, but when that results in a child, you don’t get to tell a child that they are a mistake, or that they can’t own that part of their self because YOU are ashamed or embarrassed or don’t want to be perceived differently than if people DIDN’T know the truth.

    Torri, it’s not your fault, you don’t have to be “grateful,” you deserve to know this part of your story. It doesn’t take anything away from the dad who raised you to want to know the man who gave you half your genetic material. You can ask for those answers, and if you don’t get the answers you want or you’re made to feel like you’re poking your nose into someone else’s business, THIS IS YOUR BUSINESS and you can try to find those answers on your own. It sucks that there’s a rift but it’s totally and completely understandable, given that there’s been dishonesty and a disregard for your rights as a human to know your own background and history. I hope you can heal from the ghastly treatment Dr. Laura dumped on you and that you can find an actual therapist who can help you work through all of this, because it’s a lot.

    Good gracious, take that harpy off the air.

    1. Sorry for the insanely long comment, normally I would write my own post and link, but because this is in my family and is still a crazy point of contention I can’t write about it on my site. Ugh.

  15. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, this poisonous woman was estranged from her whole family. Her mother died alone and wasn’t found for more than 2 months, and it eventually took Schlessinger more months to retrieve her remains from the morgue. And it makes sense that she values papering over the facts with lies, considering that she was still married when she started dating her future husband, and he was married with 3 children at the time. How’s that for the moral high ground? Add to that the fact that she initially got famous by claiming, wrongly, that a surf shop had porn accessible (the horror of liberals!). She sued the owner when he said she was lying, she lost lat case, then he sued her for libel and settled for millions of dollars. We are not talking about a class act here, this is the bottom of the dung heap.

  16. My newly-developed-but-catlike adoptee-in-reunion senses are tingling over Dr. Laura’s very extra and highly twittish response. Lots of older folks seem to be getting all kinds of nervous about DNA tests and what they discover these days.

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