Joyce Mitchell, the former prison worker who helped two dangerous inmates escape in June, attempted to explain her actions during an exclusive jailhouse interview with TODAY's Matt Lauer.
"I was going through a depression, and I guess they saw my weakness," she said. "And that's how it all started."
But when Lauer later sat down with Dr. Phil McGraw on Monday, the daytime TV host and psychologist told him he took exception with Mitchell's version of events.
"I think there are people that can manipulate, but I don't think she was in that situation," McGraw said. "I don't buy what she's saying — not for a second."
According to McGraw, Mitchell's story of manipulation doesn't wash with the hands-on role she admitted to taking in aiding convicted murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat.
"It's hard to talk yourself out of a situation you behaved your way into, and that's what she's trying to do," he said. "This wasn't something where [she] made a bad decision on the spur of the moment. This was a pattern of behavior over a period of time."
And he doesn't believe she had nowhere to turn ("Who could I tell? Who could I trust?") before deciding to help the convicts.
"There are people that present themselves as easy prey, but there are also safety zones," McGraw insisted. "There are times where you can reach out for help, and she was not isolated. The No. 1 tool of the abuser, the manipulator is isolation — they cut you off from family, friends, church, resources. She was not cut off from any of those things."
Hear more of McGraw's take on Mitchell in the interview. And hear much more from him when Season 14 of "Dr. Phil" kicks off Monday.