7 episodes

The Gateway is a six-part series about Teal Swan, a new brand of spiritual guru, who draws in followers with her hypnotic self-help YouTube videos aimed at people who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. Some followers move to Teal’s healing center, a spiritual startup where they produce content and manage social media accounts. Teal insists her therapy saves lives, but her critics say Teal’s death-focused dogma is dangerous. Gizmodo reporter Jennings Brown traveled to rural Utah and to the forests of Costa Rica, with extensive access to Teal and her inner circle, to understand Teal's teachings and investigate the deaths of some of her followers.

The Gateway: Teal Swan Gizmodo

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 1.3K Ratings

The Gateway is a six-part series about Teal Swan, a new brand of spiritual guru, who draws in followers with her hypnotic self-help YouTube videos aimed at people who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. Some followers move to Teal’s healing center, a spiritual startup where they produce content and manage social media accounts. Teal insists her therapy saves lives, but her critics say Teal’s death-focused dogma is dangerous. Gizmodo reporter Jennings Brown traveled to rural Utah and to the forests of Costa Rica, with extensive access to Teal and her inner circle, to understand Teal's teachings and investigate the deaths of some of her followers.

    Part 1: Catalyst

    Part 1: Catalyst

    In April 2017 YouTube recommended reporter Jennings Brown watch a self-help video from Teal Swan, a spiritual guru with a global online following. He’d spend the next year trying to understand whether or not she’s dangerous. 
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    • 41 min
    Part 2: Origins

    Part 2: Origins

    Jennings travels to Utah, where Teal grew up and began her spiritual career. He learns more about the upbringing that shaped her teachings on suicide, and he meets the people who were closest to a Teal follower who took her own life. 
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    • 38 min
    Part 3: Philia

    Part 3: Philia

    Jennings meets Teal at her retreat center in Costa Rica. He spends a week there, observing her therapy methods and getting to know some of the people who leave their lives behind to live with Teal and run her spiritual startup. It all starts with a death meditation, and it only gets stranger from there.
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    • 42 min
    Part 4: Tribe

    Part 4: Tribe

    In this exploration of Teal’s online empire, we’ll meet some of the people whose lives have changed because of her teachings.
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    • 50 min
    Part 5: Memories

    Part 5: Memories

    A look back at a strange chapter of American history known as the Satanic Panic—and how it connects to Teal. 
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    • 44 min
    Part 6: Shadows

    Part 6: Shadows

    After months of reporting, Jennings goes to Utah for one final interview with Teal.
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    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
1.3K Ratings

1.3K Ratings

Meaghan Murray ,

Excellent journalism

I was impressed teal let Jennings get this close to her. I liked his style of reporting, I didn't feel like he was talking to me like a child like some other podcasts seem to do. I liked that it brought all involved parties and it gave you every angle available.

Gellerman55 ,

Being in denial is a valid dx

I enjoyed the series, but have one point that I don't agree with. He claims that people do not repress memories and suddenly remember them with help. Oh yes, they do. Never had anything to do with Teal Swan, but I have definitely remembered repressed memories. It used to be called being "in denial".

LauraNicoleMc ,

Lacking expert interviews / research

The podcast was good and it did present a fair and balanced approach to the methods of Teal Swan. However, I think it could have greatly benefited greatly from expert analysis and research. For instance, throughout the podcast I thought of Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, who is a leading expert on memory research. In particular, I thought of her research on false memories. She has done studies that demonstrate how false memories can be planted within our minds. Her research leaves you somewhat disturbed because it illustrates that it doesn’t take any magic or master manipulation to implant a false memory; it merely takes a suggestion. Aside for this specific example, I just felt as though the podcast could have really benefitted from interviewing psychologists, experts on suicide, other gurus/spiritual leaders, etc. or referencing research on the topics discussed. I probably approach information differently because I am a professor of philosophy. But I believe it is difficult to truly understand a topic in isolation and that approaching a topic critically involves analyzing the context. While context was given regarding how Teal Swan became a spiritual leader and the way in which her methods manifested, I felt as though the podcast failed to provide the larger context in which Teal Swan’s methods and beliefs are situated (e.g., trauma, memory, suicide, spirituality, psychosomatic therapy, depression whether existential or clinical, etc.) and what experts already know on such topics.

It should be noted that I am only on episode four.

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