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Theresa Caputo is best known as the star of Long Island Medium, and she has made her name as one of the best-known clairvoyants in the business. However, not everyone is convinced that Caputo has a “gift,” as they claim that there’s a dark secret behind her success.

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The TLC reality TV show Long Island Medium first hit our screens in September 2011, and it features Caputo at its heart. The series follows her as she goes about her work, conducting group or one-to-one seances with clients who may or may not believe in her gift.

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As well as showing Caputo’s professional escapades, Long Island Medium also gives viewers an insight into the her personal life. With that in mind, Caputo’s former husband Larry Caputo has also appeared on the show, as have their two children Larry Jr. and Victoria.

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Though controversial, Long Island Medium has proved to be a successful venture for TLC and Caputo herself. The series has run for 13 seasons so far, making a star out of her. And many viewers see the fun side of Caputo’s work, which is personified in her glamorous appearance and down-to-earth demeanor.

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Off-screen the medium also fronts her Theresa Caputo Live! The Experience shows. At these performances, she opens up about her life and work with the audience. But the main draw of the show sees her deliver messages to audience members from their relatives who have already passed.

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Critics have slammed Caputo as a rip-off merchant; after all, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that people can communicate with the dead. But in the face of her criticism, the medium has stuck by her “gift.” In fact, she claims that her psychic abilities allow her to help other people, by enabling them to connect with lost loved ones.

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But Caputo hasn’t always celebrated her ability to communicate with spirits; rather, she claims that she struggled to deal with the strange sensations her clairvoyant skills caused as a child. So to understand Caputo’s relationship with her gift, we have to go right back to the beginning.

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Caputo was born to parents Nicholas and Veronica Brigandi in Hicksville, New York, in June 1966. She had a happy childhood, growing up on Long Island alongside her brother Michael. However, from an early age, Caputo felt different from the other people around her, but she couldn’t put her finger on why that was.

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Looking back, Caputo has claimed that she began to feel, see and sense spirits around the age of four. She recalled these early psychic experiences to the New York Post in 2012, saying, “I couldn’t sleep away from own house when I was a child. I would have these night terrors, but now [I know] it was spirits trying to communicate with me.”

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Due to her young age, Caputo said she didn’t realize that she was able to speak with the dead. As a result, she didn’t know how to channel the apparent energy she was attracting, and her gift manifested itself in crippling anxiety. Consequently, Caputo consulted a therapist in a bid to try and manage the condition.

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However, despite Caputo’s best efforts, she couldn’t seem to keep her anxiety in check. Her mother consequently introduced her to a spiritual healer called Pat Longo. And with the latter’s help, Caputo claimed that she realized that she could connect with the dead. But, she said on her website, not knowing how to channel spirit energy had left her feeling anxious.

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Working with Longo, Caputo said that she learned how to use her gift to receive messages from spirits and pass them on to those they’d left behind. On her website, she claimed how the dead contact her through her sixth sense. However, she argued that communicating beyond the grave wasn’t as straightforward as people may believe.

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An extract on Caputo’s website explained how she “[receives] information.”. It read, “… I see, hear, and feel things differently than we do in the physical world. Spirit mostly speaks to me through a sixth sense – a kind of feeling and knowing. When I get information, it feels like very strong intuition, or recall.”

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Caputo went on to claim how spirits use symbols and signs to communicate with her. Consequently, she says that she has devised a kind of language between her and the dead which enables her to deliver the messages to the living. However, Caputo says it’s up to her clients to figure out the meaning for themselves.

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As Caputo learned how to use her “gift,” she felt very lucky to have her family by her side. And Larry was particularly supportive of his wife’s supposed paranormal endeavors. Caputo later explained to the New York Post how he had encouraged her to explore her potential as a medium.

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Caputo told the publication, “I’ve been with my husband since I was 18 and he watched me go through my anxiety and how it was progressively getting worse… When I first told him, ‘I speak to dead people and I feel better’ he was like, ‘Hey, if that makes you feel better, go ahead, hon. Knock yourself out.’”

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When Caputo began offering her services as a medium, her clients came to her mainly through word of mouth. And before long, the mom-of-two had built up quite the reputation as a psychic. As a result, even before she’d found fame on Long Island Medium, Caputo was booked up two years in advance.

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And still, Caputo’s star continued to rise with the launch of Long Island Medium in 2011. Since then she has charmed viewers with her unique approach to clairvoyance and her apparent ability to connect with the dead in the most unlikely of places. In fact, so popular is Caputo that she’s even been parodied on Saturday Night Live.

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But while Long Island Medium made Caputo a celebrity, it seems that becoming famous was never her intention. According to her, the sole aim is to bring people peace with her so-called gift. She told the New York Post, “My wish, for someone who is placed in my path, is [that] I want them to have the experience or the message that will give them the most healing to be able to continue and to move on with their life without their loved ones.”

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But despite her seemingly honorable intentions, Caputo’s success has brought her to the attention of various skeptics. Among them is the former psychic Mark Edward, who according to Inside Edition, said of Caputo’s gift, “I know a trick when I see one,” after he attended one of the medium’s live shows.

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Edward claimed that Caputo likely uses a technique known as “cold reading” to give the impression she knows more about a subject than she really does. People can obtain a surprising amount of information simply by looking at a person. For instance, factors such as age, race, religion, and body language can provide clues as to what someone may be like.

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Using these cues, mediums make a series of high-probability guesses about a subject, analyzing their reaction to gauge whether they are correct or not. Suggestions that are off the mark are quickly moved on from; though assumptions that ring true are emphasized, in a bid to prove the psychic’s abilities

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Another technique that has been linked to Caputo is known as “shotgunning.” She has been accused of using this method at live shows, as it is similar to cold reading but much quicker. Shotgunning sees a medium fire quick statements to her audience until what they’re saying is confirmed by a crowd member.

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According to Edward, Caputo also relies on a technique known as “piggy-backing.” She employs this method if she says something wrong, trying to cover the error up by insisting the message that’s come through must be intended for another person. In 2012 Edward explained to Inside Edition, “This is an example of piggy-backing. When the spirits [do this] they will give me things you can’t connect with but others can.”

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After speaking to Edward, Inside Edition put his claims to Caputo, who responded with a statement. It read, “I respect and understand skeptics. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone, that’s not why I do what I do. I feel, and have been told by my clients, that my gift has really helped them, and that’s all that matters to me.”

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But Edward isn’t the only person to bring Caputo’s supposed gift into question. Some of the medium’s most outspoken critics are celebrities in their own right. Among them is talk show host Andy Cohen, who invited Caputo onto Watch What Happens Live in 2014 and asked her for a reading.

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In his book The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year, the chat show host revealed how he’d hoped to contact the late Natasha Richardson through Caputo. Cohen had been friends with the actress before she lost her life in a skiing accident in 2009; but his experience with the Long Island Medium left him feeling disappointed.

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Cohen revealed, “I asked for a few minutes with [Caputo] afterwards to see if Natasha would come through… She didn’t, so it was a lot of fishing.” He added, “Theresa Caputo’s manager… said she feels terrible that she didn’t give me a good reading and wants to do it over, a polite offer that I refused.”

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Journalist and TV personality Anderson Cooper was also unimpressed by Caputo’s skills after she appeared on his show in 2012. According to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, he later said, “There’s a lot you can say to a room of 300 people… Somebody here has ashes of a loved one, there’s a pretty good chance somebody has a piece of jewelry with some ashes in it. People so want to believe in things… but I want to see actual proof.”

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Another high-profile critic of Caputo is Howard Stern. He reportedly contacted the medium in 2013 to invite her on to his radio show. However, he seemingly withdrew his offer after being faced with Caputo’s excessive demands. These reportedly included wanting to be left alone with Stern’s studio audience for an hour before his show.

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Stern and his producers reportedly refused Caputo’s request, after which she allegedly pulled out of her appearance. This didn’t go down very well with host Stern, who, according to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, later scathed, “She’s never coming in here… It’s never going to happen. The Long Island psychic is not a psychic.”

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Furthermore, audience members at Caputo’s live shows have claimed that the medium seems to make more mistakes on stage than she does on TV. Other attendees have said that she fishes for information, gets things wrong, and tries to cover up errors by linking them to something a subject has said – no matter how tenuous.

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Caputo has also been accused of information mining, especially on her TV series. In order to appear on reality shows like Long Island Medium participants often have to provide personal information which could potentially inform Caputo in her psychic readings.

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According to Screen Rant, some participants on Long Island Medium have reported giving lengthy interviews with film crews – particularly about lost loved ones – before meeting with Caputo. Those who work on the show insist that their information isn’t passed on to the medium. But the allegations certainly raise suspicions about how TV psychics may work.

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Elsewhere, at Caputo’s live shows, some audience members have claimed that a number of subjects the medium chooses from the crowd are seated in the front row. And some critics believe that this is no accident. Inside Edition claimed that seating people close by makes it easier for Caputo’s team to “cue her to the right spots.”

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Some of the most scathing remarks that Caputo has faced came from Ron Tebo, the creator of SciFake.com – a controversial site seemingly dedicated to taking her down. In a 2014 interview with Radar Online, Tebo said, “[Caputo] is like a vulture preying on the most vulnerable.”

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Tebo’s comments apparently came after he reportedly spoke to some of Caputo’s clients. Elsewhere, Pamela Weinstein later relayed her encounter with Caputo to Radar Online. She had been an audience member on The Ellen DeGeneres Show when the medium was a guest. And Weinstein was no doubt eager to see the medium in action, following the murder of her three-year-old son, Brandon.

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With that in mind, when Caputo said, “Somebody lost a son in a tragedy,” the grieving mom felt that she was connecting with her. However, as the pair engaged in conversation, Caputo told a confused Weinstein, “He’s thanking you for loving him and respecting his choices. You didn’t always agree with him, but you always respected him, is that correct?”

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Weinstein nodded, presumably out of politeness, but Caputo was completely wrong. Revealing the medium’s error, Weinstein explained to Radar Online, “She was referring to my son as being much older than he was. She was definitely not spot on. I thought, ‘No, this does not sound like him.’ I do not think she was capturing his spirit at all.”

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But in the midst of the controversy caused by the Radar Online investigation, Caputo took to Facebook with a defiant message seemingly aimed at her haters. In the now-deleted post from 2014, the medium reportedly wrote, “Negative people need drama like it was oxygen. Stay positive… and take their breath away.”

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