Behind the Scenes: The Power of TV Psychics

“You sure you want to know, Katy?” says my friend Megan. She sees dead people, and has since she was a little girl. She's just told me that she has seen “presences” in my house. Do I want to know if I have ghosts? “Yes,” I decide. She tells me that she sees a spirit go in and out of my bedroom often, as if it is checking on me. It's not evil (phew) but it is anxious. She also confesses that when she stayed in my spare room after her marriage disintegrated — a sad, traumatic time for her — a “bad” spirit ripped all of her bedding off her one night and then shoved it up into her face, to suffocate her. She swears it was only feeding off the “low vibration” that her depression was emitting, and that there are no demons in my house. Again, phew. I'm not sure I'm convinced of all of this stuff, but I guess I believe it on some level, because all of it has left me very grateful that I have a dog. Surely the Prince of Darkness's henchmen will fear a dachshund mix.

Now Megan is on the road to becoming a clairvoyant. “I have so much homework to do!” she happily announces, flouncing down in front of the TV to watch her DVRs of Long Island Medium. I confess I have been drawn into this show as well. It stars Theresa Caputo, an East Coast psychic straight out of Sopranos central casting. Everything about her is italicized, from her exaggerated, chunky French manicure to her helmet of platinum blond hair. She connects to “Spirit,” an entity that helps her communicate with the dead. Generally she meets with folks who are still traumatized from the passing of a loved one and need some sort of closure. Strangely enough, everyone from the Other Side wants the people to move on with their lives and not be sad anymore. Her consultation makes them feel cared for.

I really do believe that there are psychic people, but I am skeptical that Caputo is actually communicating with the dead. If anything, I think she is reading the minds of her subjects. All she seems to do is echo things to them that they already know: How the person died, how it made them feel, and things that they use as totems to remind them of the person's life.

A recent episode took her on the road to San Francisco, no less, where she read a room full of lost souls in the Haight. She also headed out to Walnut Creek to help a woman come to grips with the loss of a boyfriend more than 20 years prior.

Caputo has been outed as a fake by several sources, including The Amazing Randi, who wrote an entire piece on her for Wired. Inside Edition also reviewed footage of her missing the mark a majority of the time with a large audience. Their arguments, of course, are that she's a good guesser with a crack team of footage editors. But when she meets up in S.F. with the youngest survivor of the Jonestown massacre — a woman who saw her mother's brains splatter all over her sister's back as she was shot trying to escape — it's hard to imagine that she is just guessing all this stuff.

And then there's Megan, who has predicted things for me that came true. She confided in me that she had dreamed that I was “not okay.” I am a recovering alcoholic, and she saw me relapse and become mired in addiction again. She did not know this, but I had secretly been drinking. I had told myself that it was temporary. It ended up lasting a year. The fact that she sensed all of this psychically felt very real to me. Perhaps she is just a sensitive friend, but it felt like more. “Tell Katy I'm right here, next to her,” a woman told her in another dream. Apparently I have a lot of spirits tootling around me.

Are they real? Who knows. But I feel taken care of, just like the people on Long Island Medium. And isn't that all that matters?

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