- The final episode of “The Goop Lab,” Gwyneth Paltrow’s new Netflix show, introduces viewers to psychics.
- Goop has long promoted psychics, inviting them to the In Goop Health wellness summit and featuring interviews on the website.
- The episode was the most controversial. Dr. Jen Gunter told Insider the episode was “disgusting and shameful.”
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In the sixth and final episode of The Goop Lab, Gwyneth Paltrow’s new Netflix show, a batch of her staffers are dispatched to meet Laura Lynne Jackson, a psychic who enthralls all but one of the team.
The one-on-one seances and group intuition exercises leave the dozen or so team members either in tears or open-jawed.
Ana, Goop’s associate food editor, is left underwhelmed by Jackson’s exercises to the end.
Jackson tells Ana (and the viewers) not to worry, but to be aware that she is likely closed off, detached from her natural self, and more limited than her peers. “It’s possible to be very much stuck in your frontal lobe,” Jackson tells Ana, “and to be so distanced from it that you feel like, ‘I can’t possibly have this and this isn’t the real world’ unless you have your own experiences.”
Ana asks: “But everybody can’t have this, right?”
Jackson: “We’re all born hard-wired to each other and the other side. This is a gift that belongs to all of us, but some of us train ourselves so much out of it that we don’t honour it, we don’t engage in it. So just stay open to it.”
The psychic episode is the most controversial part of the Goop Lab show
The other episodes (most of them) deal with more middle-of-the-road wellness practices related to pleasure, diet, skincare, and even psychedelic drugs – a controversial but increasingly accepted area of research.
Dr Jen Gunter, a gynecologist who rose to fame on the crest of her blunt and brutal critiques of Goop and its recommendations, called the episode “disgusting and shameful.”
“The whole episode was a carnival side show,” Gunter told Insider.
In a tweet, Gunter added: “How you can produce that and think you have done a good thing for the [world] is shocking to me. But I guess that is how you ‘monetise eyeballs.'”
Goop staffers tried to ‘intuit’ objects without seeing them
The episode starts with energy healing. Each Goop staffer takes turns standing in the middle of the circle while the others close their eyes and try to project love at them.
Some said they felt like they were levitating, one felt a pressure on him, one cried.
They then learn how to intuit things.
For example, they are presented with an easel with an object on it, shrouded in foil. Jackson tells them all to try to sense what the object is and draw it. The viewer only sees one of the 12 participants’ attempts, and it looks remarkably similar to the painting of pyramids that Jackson unveils.
Discussing the exercises at Goop HQ, Paltrow tells Jackson: “I’m scared of my own intuition.”
Jackson also performs one-on-one readings with some of the staffers, including Ana, the episode’s cynic.
All of Jackson’s readings are off the mark. “Are there twins in the family?” No. “A trip to Mexico?” No. “A donkey?” No.
The segment is saved with a panning shot to an associate producer, Lindsay, who’s weeping behind the camera. It turns out her grandmother was a twin, her grandfather recently died, she’s getting married in Mexico soon, and her dad suggested they put a donkey in the photo booth.
Text looms on the screen: Jackson did not meet Lindsay beforehand.
A new kind of psychic has emerged from the wellness movement
Clairvoyance is one of the oldest professions on the planet, but mired in controversy.
Last year, John Oliver dedicated a segment to the fraudulent nature of psychics, describing their classic techniques, including a mix of “cold readings” (making general easy guesses, and following the client’s cues) and “hot readings” (researching the client beforehand).
There is no shortage of cases of psychics duping clients out of thousands or even millions of dollars – an issue that drove the EU to create strict rules in 2008 telling psychics to advertise their services as entertainment alone, and the creation of a website, BadPsychics.com, to call out dodgy practitioners.
In many ways, what they offer is more like therapy.
“People shy away from the term ‘psychic,’ although I think there are some new psychics in the field who are doing something different,” Lisa Levine, an acupuncturist and founder of New York City’s holistic practice Maha Rose, told Insider.
“It’s a lot about self empowerment. This is not someone who’s going to miraculously change your life, tell you that you must divorce your husband or quit your job. The younger generation of psychics, they may confirm things that you already know, or tell you things that are going to resonate in a way that you feel, ‘I already had that feeling even if it’s really subtle.'”
For all the flack it gets, Levine appreciates how Goop, and by extension, Gwyneth Paltrow, has brought psychics into a mainstream conversation. “There’s such large gaps in Western medicine… She’s bringing a lot of things mainstream and I think it’s wonderful.”
Goop has given the psychic industry a bump
According to a recent study, the ‘industry’ of people practicing as psychics has ballooned in the last five years, and psychics now rake in an estimated $US2 billion a year.
Goop has been a key player in pushing that growth.
Laura Lynne Jackson has performed at the In Goop Health summit, an annual two-day wellness event. Paltrow has also promoted the notorious Medical Medium, a man who does not have any medical credentials but has such a strong online presence that he last year spurred an international boom in celery juice because he claimed spirits told him it could extend lifespan.
While Jackson was an entertaining character in the Netflix show, mental health experts are concerned that there is a narrative that mainstream medicine isn’t “open,” and may drive patients away from effective, safe, and evidence-based treatments.
“We all have an existential need to understand our place in the world. Many people hold supernatural beliefs in part to satisfy that existential need and that is ok,” Dr. Jonathan N. Stea, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Calgary, told Insider.
“That said, the problem with the promotion of psychic mediums beyond their entertainment value is that it can legitimise unscientific, magical thinking about health, as well as pseudoscientific therapies.”
The hype around mediums, he warns, may “further erode the foundations and trust in scientific professions that employ” supported treatments.
Stea added: “The treatment of medical conditions is not a game to be toyed with and exploited. There can be grave consequences. Your loved ones deserve evidence-based care.”