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In order to encourage Linda to continue giving her account, Oprah defends Linda's right to make a choice. However, Oprah then shows an excerpt from a video diary that Linda has kept about when Fred is not at home and about the phone call from his mistress. After showing Linda the obvious anguish that she experiences when she does not know where Fred is, Oprah then confronts her, but in a gentle manner. Oprah simply asks Linda, "And life is good that way?" When Linda tries to use another disclaimer to push aside the concerns by explaining that Fred does not frequently leave the house anymore, Oprah has clearly reached her limit and asks for Dr. Saltz to come back into the discussion.
At this point, Dr. Saltz takes an interesting approach to Linda. She calls Linda the consummate victim. In doing so, Dr. Saltz may have appeared harsh, because Linda has played the role of victim throughout the television show and Dr. Saltz did not approach her in a gentle manner. However, this approach was actually a reproach; Dr. Saltz was showing how Linda was responsible for allowing Fred to treat her in such a manner. Dr. Saltz also reproaches Fred for using Linda's willingness to be a victim. Dr. Saltz ends by attempting another type of approach; Linda had previously talked about how her child was her life, so Dr. Saltz makes a statement that the marital situation is horrible for her child. This opens up the door for Linda to give her account of her stepdaughter's reactions to her father's affair.
Oprah uses Linda's account to approach Fred about his behavior. Fred explains that his daughter read him the riot act, and prevented him from leaving the home. However, Fred has previously acknowledged that he moved out to live with his mistress. Oprah uses a unique method to reproach Fred; simply by asking him questions about his behavior, she places him in a situation where he is admitting to behavior that he has already stated he knew would hurt his daughter.
Oprah asks Fred if, presented with the right opportunity, he would cheat again. Fred says that he would. Linda presents another disclaimer by stating that she would stay with him, even if he cheated again, because of her belief that Fred would be cheating in order to get sexual gratification rather than emotional needs. Linda goes on to explain that she has tried to disassociate herself from those feelings. Oprah breaks in with a reproach, aimed at women in general, that it is interesting that women feel like they need to disassociate feelings from sexuality. Dr. Saltz also reproaches Linda by saying that is clear she has disassociated herself from her feelings. Furthermore, Dr. Saltz again tries to appeal to that part of Linda that she has claimed is the most important; her child and her ability to mother. Dr. Saltz and Oprah get Linda to agree that she is setting her child up to become a cheater and to treat women like garbage. Linda again tries to defend her behavior by disclaiming that Fred's behavior towards her has been that bad. She says, "I truly believe the man loves me the best he can, OK?" Linda also reproaches Fred by stating that she does not think he knows how to love. Fred agrees that her statement may be accurate.
The segment ends with Burton, the first cheater, saying that he saw a spark of hope in Fred and Linda's situation. Oprah encourages him to continue with the thought. Burton goes on to explain that he saw a spark of hope because Linda had contacted an attorney and that his own changes only came about when he realized that Suzy could take care of herself.
There were two things about the communication style used on the show that were of particular interest. The first thing is that Oprah tailored her approaches to elicit the desired responses from her guests. If her first approach was unsuccessful, Oprah would try a different approach until she received the desired response. This makes sense because Oprah's been a talk show host for at least 20 years. The second thing was that the only person on the show still in victim mode was the person least likely to own her behavior; Linda used some type of disclaimer more frequently than not. Even more interesting was the interplay between the two phenomena; Oprah could take a direct approach with the other guests, but had to repeatedly approach Linda with various issues because Linda…[continue]
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