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Podcast Binge

Here's why 'The Gateway' should be your next podcast

Gizmodo’s latest offering gives an insight into Teal Swan, a controversial spiritual leader with over 53 million Youtube views.

THERE ARE MANY ways and methods to approach mental health. Some people prefer yoga, some people need therapy, some people need medication and some people turn to more unusual methods. The problem becomes when these unusual methods turn out to do more harm than good.

‘The Gateway’ is a podcast that focuses on internet spiritual leader Teal Swan who has amassed a large online following  with over 400,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel and 53 million views on her videos which mostly deal with mental health and well being.

If you’ve never heard of Teal Swan then you’re not the only one. I initially had never heard of her either but from the very first episode of the ‘The Gateway’ I was hooked.

The premise involves reporter Jennings Brown of Gizmodo interviewing Teal as well as her followers in order to assess whether or not her advice and actions directly led to the suicide of a woman named Leslie. Teal says that when Leslie came to her about feeling suicidal Teal told her she had to ‘commit fully to life or commit fully to death’. Leslie took her own life and her husband John is still a follower of Teal’s. Teal denies that her actions caused Leslie’s death.

Teal is unusual and troubling for a number of reasons but most famously for her attitude to suicide. She has previously said that suicide could be seen as ‘a reset button’ and that sometimes it can be ‘the best option’. These attitudes toward suicide have seen her drawn criticism from a number of mental health professionals and she has previously been fined by the state of Utah for practicing mental health without a license.

Teal also claims that she can see auras, that she has X ray vision and that she can give out better advice to people who are feeling suicidal because she has been there herself.

So what does the podcast actually ask? Basically Jennings examines aspects of Teal’s techniques and in particular ‘The Completion Process’ over 6 episodes. The Completion Process is Teal’s main therapeutic method and works by accessing old memories that she believes the person has forgotten.

She believes that everyone suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and that many of us have trauma that we’ve repressed. If that sounds familiar, it may be because it’s similar to ‘repressed memories’, a largely debunked theory that you repress memories of serious trauma like sexual abuse and then recover them later on with hypnosis.

This is interesting as Teal herself claims that she was part of a Satanic cult where she underwent severe sexual abuse. These claims only came to light after she started seeing a controversial psychologist named Barbara Snow. She’s controversial as she supports the idea of repressed memories and was placed on probation for her role in the Satanic Panic of the 1980 and 90s.

Gizmodo Gizmodo

Over the 6 episodes, Teal’s methods are put under the microscope with Jennings actually undergoing the process. The main criticism of the process is that the person carrying it out seems to ask leading questions and suggest that every person has a repressed memory.

One practitioner of the Completion Process admits that around 30% of her patients have now recalled severe traumatic sexual abuse that they didn’t remember before. Obviously people do undergo traumatic sexual abuse and it’s a heavy topic but the problem is how to distinguish what it real and what is a false memory.

While the podcast deals with heavy topics, it’s fascinating to see how much power Teal has over her followers. She moved to Costa Rica where she set up her own centre with her and 20 other followers living there full time.

If you’re interested in cults then this is the podcast for you because while Teal does deny that her she’s a cult leader she says that she has the perfect plan for a cult and ‘that’s what keeps me safe’. Her views contradict each other quite a bit and it’s a warning sign for how far internet fame can go and the potential harm that it can cause to those most vulnerable to it.

You can find the Gateway here or on most podcast apps.

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