Photo: Yonatan Bloom
Ilan Rabinovich
Photo: Yonatan Bloom

Psychiatrist blows lid off reality TV drug abuse

Doctor accused of giving Israeli 'Big Brother' contestants psychiatric drugs releases document accusing reality TV industry of manipulating participants for entertainment value

A psychiatrist formerly employed by the Israeli version of "Big Brother" has come forward to accuse the reality television industry of purposefully compromising contestants' mental health for entertainment value.


Dr. Ilan Rabinovich made headlines in March when a finalist on the show's second season filed a lawsuit against its production company, Kuperman Productions, alleging that he and his fellow contestants were pressured by the psychiatrist to take drugs.


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In a highly critical document released recently Rabinovich offers details about his work on the show and claims that coerced drug use and the manipulation of contestants' wellbeing is shockingly commonplace in Israel's reality television industry.


"The trend is more widespread that it was ever reported," he says. "(…) A psychologist who worked with the show was replaced after he asked to stop subjecting the contestants to challenges that are harmful to their mental state."


Rabinovich alleges in the document that Keshet, the broadcasting company that carries "Big Brother," and the show's producers seek to "manufacture action at any price." In order to do so, they choose participants who are easily provoked and tend to throw tantrums.


The contestants often have "hidden skeletons and childhood traumas," he says, so much so that in many cases he had to provide them with hours of therapy, slipping in and out of the house where they cohabitated using a hidden door installed for that particular purpose.


Rabinovich calls on decision makers to put a stop to the shameless exploitation, saying that "A crushed soul isn't worth the rating points."


Side effects & rehab

In March, season 2 finalist Saar Sheinfain and several other contestants claimed that the show's staff gave them psychiatric drugs and employed other means of manipulating their behavior in front of the camera.


Sheinfain said that he was never told about the side effects of the pills he was coaxed to consume – drugs he claimed drove him to have an affair with a fellow contestant, Ayala Reshef.


"What you saw was a man who was drugged, directed and imprisoned," he said back then.


Another participant, Erez de Drezner, said that Rabinovich took advantage of his vulnerability to convince him to take the drugs, and that he had to undergo a difficult rehabilitation period after the show ended due to the side effects he suffered from the pills.


Keshet and Kuperman Productions said in response that Rabinovich was solely responsible for the contestants' mental wellbeing while he was employed by the show, but refused to offer any details due to the ongoing lawsuit.



פרסום ראשון: 06.24.12, 14:40
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