Theresa Caputo has been the heart of her hit TLC show, Long Island Medium. Audiences are captivated by the emotional and personal moments she creates with her one-on-one clients, as well as her live audiences. Behind the scenes, however, not everything has a heartwarming ending.
The Personal Side
Caputo’s show is based on personal connections, but there’s more to her spirit readings than meets the eye. Moreover, her recent fame has taken its toll on her personal life.
Eyes On Her
Theresa Caputo went from a Long Island, New York local to a national star when TLC finally got the go-ahead to produce a show about her psychic abilities. Many networks had passed on the fast-talking New Yorker, but the production company who initially pitched the show found Theresa’s work to be enchanting, despite others cautioning that programming focusing on paranormal activity was waning in popularity. They would soon discover just how wrong they were as the viewers began tuning in.
Honing Her Skills
Caputo shared in a 2014 interview with Huffington Post that it took her a long time before she could admit she had the ability to speak to the dead. Theresa was already an adult when she learned that she could channel the inexplicable feelings she had suffered with for so long. She explains that she was guided by a spiritual healer named Pat Longo. As Theresa came to terms with her gifts, she still had to figure out how to tell her husband.
In 2017, Caputo sat down with People magazine to discuss both the success of her show, Long Island Medium, as well as what it was like growing up with supernatural powers. Caputo claims that this connection became apparent at the age of four when she began picking up on the fears of others. She revealed, “If somebody was nervous, I’d pick that up, and my heart would start pounding.” Until her 20s, Caputo just thought she had terrible anxiety, but there was more to the story.
Pushing The Limits
Theresa began honing her supposed skills, but to her husband, Larry, she had been just a little nuts from when they first met. “He just thought I was crazy,” Caputo told People. She continued, “If I was in a car and I was having anxiety, whether I was feeling something or just the fear that something was going to happen, I would just start screaming: ‘I need to get out of here! Pull over! I have to get out of the car!’ It was horrible.”
Initially, Larry would do whatever possible to calm Teresa down, but following a few episodes, he realized how to handle it. She explained “He would tell me to wait until the next exit because he knew that it was going to pass, he’d say: ‘Open up your window. Breathe.’ Then it would subside, because it would only last for 30 seconds or so. But 30 seconds feels like a lifetime when you’re in that panicked state.” Even so, Theresa needed to overcome this strain on her life.
It was time for Caputo to come clean. Once she admitted to her husband the truth behind her outbursts, they could only hope it would improve their relationship. Furthermore, freeing herself from the chains of the spiritual energy she claimed to be influenced by became a lucrative business opportunity for Theresa. One thing was clear though; she needed to see how her husband would react to her revelation. She couldn’t know just how much he would doubt her confession or not.
When Caputo finally decided to reveal her secret to her husband, she had reached a breaking point. The couple had already been together for 10 years, even while Theresa’s secret shadowed over their relationship. Caputo explained to Huffington Post, “I wasn’t doing anything. I didn’t want to leave the house. I would cry all the time.” Larry knew something was wrong with his wife, but as long as she kept it to herself, he wouldn’t have an inkling of what she was actually hiding.
Her Big Reveal
As Theresa finally confessed to her newly understood paranormal connections, it seemed to free her from her crippling anxiety, especially given how well Larry seemed to take the news. She shared, “[W]hen I told him…I can speak to dead people, he saw that I was physically and emotionally getting better. So he’s like, ‘you know what hun, if you think talking to dead people makes you feel better, you keep going right ahead, because it’s making my life a hell of a lot easier.”
Did He Believe
Just because her husband accepted the narrative that Theresa told herself didn’t mean he believed her abilities were real, at least not at first. On the TV show, their family all appear supportive of Caputo’s profession, but it wasn’t always like that. It took until Larry began to watch Theresa’s sessions for himself to believe that his wife could truly channel the spirits of the dead. According to Theresa, he was impressed with the breadth of the information she knew about clients.
Facing Down The Skepticism
Since going public with her perceived abilities, Theresa has faced controversy for her work. Most of the criticism has to do with the methods Theresa employs during her consultations. Her private clients and audiences always seem to be impressed with the information Theresa manages to come up with about their lives. However, many others have called her methods into question. Many of the intuitions Theresa has about her clients have a very simple explanation behind them.
Vague Is The Way
Both professional magicians have also explained that Theresa seems to hit her mark more frequently because she engages another technique called ‘shotgunning.’ The principle behind shotgunning is that by asking vague questions to a large group of people, the person trying to display psychic behavior will be more likely to get a match from their audiences. The broadness of the question is often similar to how horoscopes are written. The truth is, Theresa has no clue which of her audience members will respond.
Becoming Friends First
A lot of Caputo’s success can be chalked up to her warm personality. She opens her audience up by chatting with them casually in her thick, Long Island accent. Ron Tebo explained, “She schmoozes with the audience, and wins them over with her big hair, designer shoes, and comedy. When they trust her, she goes in for the kill.” He continued, “She’ll ask the group a question like, ‘Who lost an older male relative to heart problems?’ It’s the oldest trick in the medium’s book.”
The Fans List
Theresa wrote on her website that she was so popular, that she was booked for two years straight, even before her show began to air. Most, if not all, of her audiences and clients are made up of people who have sought out her services in order to get closure following the death of a loved one. Theresa shares that the most important part of her work is making a difference in the lives of the people who seek her out. Not everyone agrees.
It is interesting to note that the information Caputo receives from the dead that she speaks to is always the same sort of positive affirmations, no matter who she’s speaking to. There never appears to be a case where she’s received a negative message from a loved one that’s passed. Other skeptics have also wondered why she hasn’t ever used her skills to solve a murder or heard confessions of transgressions past. She can explain it away as channeling only positive sentiments, but it’s hard to believe.
This Little Piggy
A former psychic and magician, Mark Edward has explained another one of Theresa’s secret techniques. He would know, given that he used to practice the same sort of show. Whenever Caputo gets a piece of information wrong while talking to someone in her audience, she engages in what Edward called ‘piggy backing.’ What that means is that if she makes a mistake, and the person she’s speaking to says no to her question, she’ll say she was channeling for someone else.
Sneaking In Research
Caputo may claim that she only sees her audiences members first names and phone numbers, however, the ticketing system employed by the venues in which Caputo appears ask for a lot more information. It is easy for producers to run background checks on her audience members, which could easily give Caputo more information about the loved ones they want her to speak to. With one client who appeared on her show, Caputo ‘guessed’ her son loved Spongebob, when really they saw a poster in his room.
Although Teresa seems to have a large studio audience, it was suggested the tickets are strategically given out. Seating plans are said to have been made in advance and Caputo places the people she already knows in the from rows, the people she has previously spoken to and knows their story. From this, she is able to play off her knowledge of their deceased family members and their past struggles which she is said to be fully aware of.
Redone To Perfection
It’s no surprise that with Caputo’s highly stylized appearance that she has engages in reshoots on her show. Several of her former clients shared that during tapings of the TV show, their segment will be done repeatedly until Caputo correctly guesses their information. After one live show, one former audience member wrote, “I was a Theresa Caputo believer. My young daughter died this summer and I needed to believe in something. After tonight, I am no longer a believer…[Most of us] left defeated and deflated.”
Not Always Sunny
Caputo may boast a personable demeanor when you see her on the show, as she seeks to soothe and heal the people who approach her, but behind the scenes, it seems that she is a completely different person. Crew members have reported that when the cameras have been turned off, Caputo ranges from unpleasant to downright hostile to those who surround her. They have also said that her designer standards extend to her hotel accommodations when she tours.
Guess To Confess
Another side of Caputo’s shotgunning tactics includes making so many guesses that eventually, the frustrated client will end up telling Caputo their entire story. Following that, Theresa will give them some form of a vague positive message that encourages them to let go of their grief, such as “You know they love you,” or “I want you to be happy.” Theresa claims she only asks her ‘spirit guides’ for positive messages, but everything she’s supposedly given is vague and unoriginal.
Putting On A Show
Although Teresa always seems to be on point with the readings on her TV show, her live readings have been said to lack integrity and authenticity. One audience member stated “she seemed off and almost every reading was like pulling teeth to match up info. She was really grasping at straws and did a lot of ‘fishing.'” Another attendee complained to Ticketmaster about the show and stated, “For the most part, readings were forced and uninspired.” Was Teresa’s time almost up?
Delighting In Her Fame
In a 2015 interview with the Huffington Post, Theresa shared her surprise at just how popular her show became. She told the reporter, “I thought I was going to film a couple of shows and I would go on with my life. I didn’t think I would be touring on a tour bus doing live shows every night and changing thousands of peoples’ lives.” Theresa doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable with her fame by any means, especially since it supports her glamorous habits.
Skeptics Take Aim
For all of the celebrities that Theresa has won over, many more have still remained skeptical that she’s the real deal. Many of them have invited her for live interviews, including Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper. Cohen invited Theresa onto his Bravo show in order to channel the late Natasha Richardson. After the reading was completed, he would say that Theresa’s comments were “were offensively incorrect.” Cooper also remained unconvinced after interviewing her, saying, “I want to see actual proof.”
Stickler For Form
When watching Theresa’s show, it becomes clear that she has a set formula for how her readings operate. Many have pointed out that were her readings truly unique, the configuration of the readings should change from client to client. With Theresa, however, there is never a shift, no matter what kind of spirit she is trying to channel. She even uses the same format with the “random” encounters she has in public while going about her daily life.
Hot And Cold
There’s more to cold reading than simply making educated guesses based on a person’s appearance. Experts who spend their time debunking paranormal claims explained why Theresa’s guesses manage to seem so specific to the people she’s speaking with. She might be guessing about an event that seems very specific, like a knee scar or near drowning as a child, but the truth is that those are both experiences common to a large population of people. The odds of occurrence are high, and it gets results.
Others who are skeptical as to whether or not Theresa is the real deal point to the fact that she never discussed being a medium until just before she landed her show. Many of her close friends have said they think Caputo is a “talented actress,” but even in her childhood, she never seemed to share that she was channeling the dead. While some may say it’s because of the stigma attached to being a psychic, others think it’s because she’s a fake.
Scanning For Truth
In the light of the backlash Theresa has received, she began claiming that she had a brain scan performed to prove her skills. She told Fox & Friends about the findings on her brain scans, “They did find that I do access a part of my brain that we typically don’t and that my brain actually goes blank. It’s almost like it flat lines. Like, it’s clear as I’m channeling.” She did not, however, provide any of said scans.
A Mind Flip
Multiple stage magicians, including Ron Tebo and James Randi, have openly discussed how Theresa uses what is known as ‘mentalist’ techniques in order to glean information from her eager patrons. One of those techniques is called ‘cold reading’ by practitioners, which takes advantage of little ticks in the clients’ body language. Those who are well-versed in ‘cold reading’ can pick up on information about their subject by quickly analyzing their clothes, their manner of speech, and the smallest physical cues.
Hurting The Weak
The most scathing of Theresa’s critics claim that she, and often other self-proclaimed mediums, are taking advantage of people who are at their most vulnerable. Private investigator and stage magician, Ron Tebo told Radar, “She does more harm than good. She’s bringing comfort under false pretenses, and taking advantage of vulnerable, grieving people. It disgusts me.” Many other people with insight into stage allusions have explained more about how she appears to make connections, as well as how her show has been manipulated.
Full Of Secrets
Many have reported becoming disillusioned with Caputo after seeing her live. A reporter for the Long Island Press shared her personal story of being an audience member during one of Theresa’s live shows. She explained how Theresa impresses her audiences with her big hair and expensive shoes, but it’s really just a show. After she began talking to individuals, it became clear just how frequently Theresa got information completely wrong. That’s when her last ‘technique’ comes in.
A Charmed Life
Since Long Island Medium began airing, Theresa has split the air time between showing how she helps her clients and showing her home life. For all intents and purposes, she and her husband Larry had a rock solid relationship. They would often be seen engaging in small romantic gestures, which made their relationship the envy of many viewers. Larry would say, “[M[any people admire our relationship – I thought everybody’s relationship was like that and it’s not. We’re very blessed,” but touring would take its toll.
Testing Her Faith
Theresa revealed that it took a long time for her to accept her gift due to her faith. She explained “We’re taught, ‘Don’t bother the dead,’ right? But I’m not bothering anyone. The souls of the departed are contacting me. I didn’t wake up thinking, ‘Oh, I think it could be great, talking with dead people — a great career.’ You know, um, I know that this is my soul journey, and this is who God wanted me to be, and to do his work in this way.”
James Randi is a well-regarded stage magician who is one of the biggest skeptics of paranormal channeling. He has offered many such practitioners to prove under controlled conditions that they really are receiving information from a spiritual realm. If they can do so, he will award them with a million dollars. Theresa might already be a millionaire from her show, but she has refused to take the challenge, despite other claims that she has scientific proof of her skills.
Trusting Her Instinct
Caputo shared in that same interview that at the beginning, even she was skeptical that the things she felt were truly a connection to a spiritual world. She said, “I was a skeptic, like a lot of people are, until you witness it.” For all of the years that she had seemed to suffer, no doctor ever found anything wrong with her. Though admitting to her alleged gift seemed to free her from her past affliction, there are many who claim it’s all an act.
Despite the affection they constantly showed for one another, both Theresa and Larry opened up that even after nearly 30 years of marriage, something had shifted drastically in their relationship. Larry had stayed with Theresa, even when she was suffering constant panic attacks, which would often result in public screaming. One of statement Theresa released, she said, “I don’t understand it. I lay in bed, and I say to myself, ‘How did this happen? How did I get here?’”
Many of Caputo’s biggest skeptics point to another issue with her readings. Theresa claims when she gets messages from the beyond, they begin by appearing to her in symbols and signs. She says she’ll feel her chest tightening up as an example, which she can liken to past heart attack or drowning. She will also ask the audience if they have a connection to a number of letters. It’s strange then that the vague signs will then be replaced by very specific messages.
Theresa’s priorities came into question when she said, “I love what I do. I wouldn’t change a thing. I am so grateful and very blessed but because of what I do and where I am in my life with my career, every relationship in my life has suffered, just getting together with family, you know, just going to lunch. Things are just hard, you know? And just trying to the best that I can.” Was she putting her job before her family?
Their Ultimate Decision
Given the statements about the trouble they’ve been facing, it was less of a surprise when the Caputos issued a joint announcement of their decision to divorce. They wrote, “After 28 years of marriage, we have decided to legally separate. We will always love each other and our two wonderful children. We are united in supporting each other and our family. Please respect our privacy during this time.” Whether Theresa will be taking time off from her show, however, remains to be seen.
While Theresa would only say that something has changed between them, Larry surprisingly seemed to have a better understanding of the issues at hand. He opened up on an episode of Long Island Medium, saying, “We’re having a difficult time. I think a lot of the frustration has to do with us not spending the time together anymore. Along with that comes the lack of communication, so it’s like losing your best friend. It’s hard.” We have to wonder if Theresa ever foresaw this split.