Love him or hate him, Dr. Phil McGraw has been a daytime TV staple since his talk show premiered in 2002, and his dedicated viewers have made him one of the world’s highest-earning TV hosts.
But the approach he takes when dealing with his guests, some of whom are dealing with very serious mental health issues, has been questioned a number of times.
As his critics love to point out, McGraw, 67, is not a licensed psychologist these days, which led to a criminal complaint being filed against him for practicing psychology in California without a license in 2008.
In the strictly legal sense, McGraw is just a TV host who offers "advice" to guests who appear on his program. But in a new lawsuit, a woman who appeared on his show in 2017 blames McGraw for causing her to have a mental breakdown and being involuntarily committed.
TMZ reports that the guest, Kaden Mahaffa, originally agreed to appear on Dr. Phil while supporting her boyfriend in an episode about childhood abuse.
In the lawsuit, Mahaffa says the show’s producers decided to focus on her instead, after a bizarre pre-show interview where Mahaffa claimed to have x-ray vision and psychic powers.
Mahaffa says she was ambushed with aggressive questions from McGraw about her "sanity and beliefs" during episode which aired in 2017.
In a clip from the episode posted to the Dr. Phil YouTube channel, the host tests Mahaffa by asking her to look inside his body and identify which of his bones were broken.
"I feel like I’m being totally attacked," Mahaffa complained, before trying to redirect the host to talk about her boyfriend’s childhood abuse.
Ironically, McGraw also questioned Mahaffa’s claims that she was a certified therapist, ICU nurse, and author.
Mahaffa reportedly claims that she collapsed backstage after the episode finished taping, "engaging in erratic behavior" like shouting at show staffers and ripping out her hair.
After police were called to the set, Mahaffa says she was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for five days. Later, when her episode aired, Mahaffa says the online bullying she suffered made her suicidal.
Mahaffa is suing McGraw, his production company, and CBS for emotional distress, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation.
Staff at Dr. Phil told TMZ that Mahaffa signed a release form allowing anything she said on stage to air on TV.
This is not the first time McGraw has been dragged into a legal battle. Last year, he settled a case with a former employee who claimed McGraw’s mistreatment of staff caused emotional distress.
Multiple guests struggling with alcohol and drug addiction also claimed they found liquor and drugs like Xanax waiting in their dressing rooms.