Dr. Phil Guest Claims He Exploited Her Mental Illness for Profit

(CN) –  A mentally ill woman filed a lawsuit against Dr. Phil and CBS in Los Angeles, claiming that the talk show host publicly humiliated her on his show and caused her to suffer a breakdown because of it.

In a complaint filed Thursday, Kaden Mahaffa said she was misled by show staff and Dr. Phil, real name Phil McGraw, into thinking her appearance in the episode was to talk about the alleged abuse her boyfriend went through by his mother and grandmother.

Instead, Mahaffa said that producers decided to change the show after speaking with her in a pre-interview when they discovered that she believed she “possessed various supernatural powers, including the ability to communicate with the dead, read people’s minds, see with X-ray vision, and intuitively write ancient languages, among other things.”

“Any reasonable person — let alone a clinical psychologist like Defendant McGraw — would immediately recognize that Ms. Mahaffa was a mentally-ill individual in crisis, not someone to be exploited on a national TV show,” the complaint says.

Mahaffa said Dr. Phil “aggressively interrogated” her during the taping and “insisted that she demonstrate her purported powers,” causing the audience to laugh and jeer at her throughout the program.

She said Dr. Phil is “a powerful Hollywood celebrity who uses his fame and credibility as a mental health professional to gain the trust of mentally-ill psychiatric patients, only to turn around and publicly humiliate them for the sake of good television ratings and advertising dollars.”

The lawsuit says Mahaffa suffered a mental breakdown backstage after the taping, causing the police to be called and having her involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. Mahaffa said she dealt with suicidal thoughts and harassment from viewers after the show aired.

Mahaffa is suing for emotional distress and fraud. She is represented by Ryan Stewart of Moneymaker and Stewart.

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