Saar Sheinfain, a finalist on the Israeli version of the reality show "Big Brother," filed a NIS 2.5 million (about $650,000) lawsuit against the show's production company "Kuperman Productions" and the show's psychiatrist Dr. Ilan Rabinovich, for allegedly forcing harmful psychiatric drugs on the contestants for ratings purposes, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.
Sheinfein claims that the drugs caused him to lose his ability to function normally to the point where he is now considered 30% handicapped.
"This lawsuit concerns just one person but it bears great responsibility for our future as a society," the lawsuit stated.
In the statement of claim filed with the court, Sheinfein noted that prior to his participation in the show, he was "a healthy human being" and that he had never taken psychiatric drugs beforehand.
The lawsuit revealed information concerning the contract signed between Sheinfein and the production company prior to him joining the show. One of the terms reads: "The production company will not take responsibility for any damage caused to the contestant."
Another clause read: "I fully understand that the show is held under physical and psychological pressure, and that psychological effects may occur."
Sheinfein wrote that at an early stage of the competition, the producers began intervening in his relationship with Ayala Reshef, another contestant on the show. At a later point, when Sheinfein requested to leave the show, he said that Dr. Rabinovich informed him that by leaving the show he would be in breach of contract. Sheinfein said that Rabinovich told him that leaving the show would also cause him irreparable psychiatric damage.
The statement of claim further revealed that as a result of the medical treatment given to Sheinfein, he has suffered from several psychiatric issues such as anxiety attacks, depression and insomnia.
Channel 2 franchisee Keshet and the production company both denied the allegations, calling them "baseless." They claimed that only six of the 100 contestants of the four "Big Brother" seasons aired in Israel, have received minimal psychiatric care. "That number is considerably low in comparison with other countries," they said.
The show reiterated that "any psychiatric care given to the contestants was for their own welfare and with their consent. The care givers on the show are acclaimed and experienced psychiatrists', and acted as an autonomous authority over the contestants' well being."
Dr. Rabinovich stated in response that the allegations were an extortion attempt, claiming that Sheinfain's treatment was meant to help him with severe mental problems, and was done with full confidentiality.