Is The Deep End real? Teal Swan’s controversial practice dissected

Teal Swan in The Deep End

The Deep End promised to give us ‘an unflinching portrayal of an unregulated wellness industry, and the incredible lengths people will go to in the search for connection.’ At first, Freeform withheld the subject of their documentary but later revealed it to be controversial wellness guru Teal Swan. 

Swan has millions of internet followers, and her pricy seminars often sell out. Many prescribe to her guidance, believing that she has ‘extrasensory abilities’ that empower her to give life-changing advice. On the flip side, many find fault in her ideologies and teachings. 

Key Takeaways

  • The Deep End tells the real Story of Teal Swan, a controversial wellness guru who claims to have extrasensory abilities.
  • Teal’s alleged glorification of suicide has attracted criticism and is said to have caused at least two suicidal deaths.
  • Swan claims to have been part of a satanic cult, and though her practice bears the characteristics of a cult, she insists that it isn’t one.

Teal Swan claims that her abilities and personal experiences give her unique mentorship capabilities

“If you want to come within 50 miles of me, you better be ready for the deepest end of the pool,” Swan tells her followers in The Deep End

Per her website, Swan was born on 16th June 1984 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Teal realized that she didn’t fit in, primarily because of her hypersensitivity and ‘extrasensory abilities.’

She claimed to have ‘clairsentience,’ the ability to perceive the imperceivable, and ‘clairaudience,’ the ability to hear the inaudible. These unique talents made Swan a target rather than mark her out as special. 

Teal claims that from the age of 6, she experienced sexual violence and abuse, including rape and psychological torture from a family friend who promised to ‘cure’ her. 

Swan claims she tried to commit suicide as a teenager and was referred to a psychologist whose techniques failed. She was indoctrinated into two cults, which she escaped in her late teens. 

Teal later started her online career by sharing videos about mental health and self-help. Her popularity increased as she wrote books and organized live events where her followers could engage her. 

She claimed to resonate more with her depressed followers because she went through similar experiences. Swan told Ozy:

“What you don’t need is somebody to be shaming you because of your family members or telling you that it’s fu-king wrong. What you need is somebody who’s like, ‘You know what? I know it.’”

Teal says that experience coupled with her sensory abilities give her unique mentorship capabilities – they give her the complete ‘picture of human existence.’ She writes on her site:

“Without the abuse and suffering I experienced, I would be someone who could give you a lot of esoteric information about the universe at large, but who would have no real grasp on the reality of human suffering or how to heal it.”

“The gift of my own suffering is that I now have the full picture and that has drastically changed both what I teach and the way that I teach.”

Swan has faced criticism for her apparent glorification of suicide

Given her millions-strong following, thinking that Swan encourages suicide is concerning. Surely a self-proclaimed survivor of suicide would know that preaching the benefits of suicide to a suicidal person could spell disaster, right?

Swan hasn’t explicitly encouraged suicide, Refinery29 reports, but she’s gotten quite close to doing so. She compares followers with suicidal thoughts to ‘stray cats’ and ‘orphaned children’ who need her help. 

Teal has described suicide as a ‘re-set button’ that could signal the start of a better life. Dr. Jonathan Singer, the president of the American Association of Suicidology, criticized Teal’s rhetoric:

“When I heard Teal say that suicide can be a ‘re-set button’ I was disturbed. It suggests you can kill yourself and that things will start over again and be better, and that is not true. She’s got these ideas that in her mind are only helpful. But for others could be really dangerous.”

Refinery29 reports that two suicidal deaths of her former followers, Leslie Wangsgaard and an unidentified male, have been linked to Teal’s teachings. Teal told Jennings Brown of The Gateway that ‘haters’ accuse her of causing Leslie’s death. 

In a video titled ‘Teal Swan Answers To The Allegations Made Against Her,’ Swan said she felt ‘guilty’ after Leslie’s death. She refuted allegations that she ‘wants’ her followers to die. 

Teal Swan | Courtesy of Teal Eye

Swan admits that key community members left, but she still believes that her methods combat suicide rather than encourage it. “I have confidence that I have the strategy to help people out of suicidal thoughts,” she says in the video

Teal acknowledges that her practice has cult-like characteristics but insists she isn’t running a cult

In The Deep End, one of Teal’s followers compares her to Jesus; Swan says she wants to become ‘more spiritually influential than The Pope.’ Ominously, however, an ex-follower says: “I was so [brain]washed, I’d be willing to kill someone and bury them in the backyard.”

Jennings Brown’s The Gateway established that Swan has the characteristics of a cult leader. Furthermore, her followers act like they’re in a cult, admiring and revering her more than the typical wellness guru. 

You won’t find many people willing to tattoo their favorite wellness vloggers on their bodies, but a chunk of Teal’s followers have her quotes and drawings of her face emblazoned on their skin.

The Gateway asked Teal whether she runs a cult. Teal replied:

“I have the perfect recipe for a cult, and I fucking know it. I have a demographic of people who are miserably isolated, and who need belonging, desperately. That’s what makes me safe… These people are desperate. They need my approval. They will do whatever the hell I say.”

Teal said on The Gateway that her practice bears no resemblance to the satanic cult she was once a part of. Swan claims she saw at least two children sacrificed. 

“There is nothing worse than being accused of leading a cult when you grew up in one that is incredibly horrific, which is why there is no financial buy-in like there is in a typical cult. There is no consequence for leaving,” she said. “People do it all the time.”

“What it boils down to is that I’m teaching the truth,” Swan defiantly says in The Deep End. “I’m the one that’ll tell you how it is whether or not you’re able to handle it.”

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