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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Making the Transaction to Mentalism. (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Senor Fabuloso
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For a long time now I have performed mental magic in my magic act and while it works fine for me I'm considering a full move to mentalism. Coming from a magic background and having religious beliefs contrary to "real" presentation in the context of "psychic ability" I'm considering the psychological approach? Problem is I have a very limited knowledge of psychology. Just a few basic courses in university. My question then is How do I create and perform a believable mentalism only act without looking the fool or tipping my magic background? If the topic has been talked about before I haven't found it. Try helping and not judging the post as lame from a newb I can assure you I'm neither.
"I think it's clear that if we move people emotionally and have them experience our show on a visceral level they will have been entertained." Me

"When I was young I thought I was clever and could change the world. But now I am wise and instead changed MYSELF." Sudo Nimh
Luke Jonas
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That is a good question, I recommend first reading and studying some books on mentalism like 13 steps but books Like Artful mentalism by Bob Cassidy cover more than just effects and go further into the performance side of mentalism, also the principles of mentalism by osterlind.
Mentalism incorporated by Chuck Hickok this will help you a lot with how to design a show. as for you having a background in magic that will be a help rather than a hindrance as it will give you a good basing when it comes to performance and audience management.
hope this is useful.
Raum
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Nobody from "psychological" mentalists use psychology in their show. Psychology it's a science, not a performing attitude. You can say whatever you want.
Nestor D
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Serious question : many people are uneasy with the psychic approach because you are using tricks to simulate abilities that you do not truly have (and might not believe in).

If that is your case (it might not be), are you easy with the psychological approach : using tricks to simulate abilities that you do not truly have ?

That said, to answer your question, the best way is to read a maximum of genuine books on the subject you are presenting. It will quickly give you bits and pieces of knowledge that will help you look and be knowledgeable.
MichaelCGM
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Go back and re-read those basic university books on the subject. Then look into some mass-communication textbooks, paying close attention to how people are influenced by those in the mass-communication field - advertising, politics, etc. If you want to promote the concept of mental psychology, you need at least this basic knowledge and jargon from these fields. Then follow Luke Jonas' suggestions regarding 13 Steps, Bob Cassidy and Chuck Hickock. Hickock has some great, down-to-earth effects that can be used in the body-language and/or psychological influence type of presentation. Also consider Banachek and Richard Osterlind. The nice thing about Osterlind is that he often claims not to know exactly why his stuff works.

PM if you need to talk.
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Mr. Woolery
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Here's a thought, take it how you like:

Do it for real.

Pick things that you can actually do for real. Lightning calculation, mnemonics, magic squares, helstromism. All of these are things that I find fascinating for real. And all of them really do happen for real. And all of them can be learned. You can certainly use some trickery to enhance or augment your methods (as with Cassidy's card memory routine, which does not use the method he presents - but could). Arthur Benjamin does an act that is just him doing math in his head faster than people can do it with calculators. Harry Lorayne reputedly is very entertaining when he presents his memory demonstrations (I haven't actually seen any of his memory demos, except a magic square routine that he was putting forward as memory-related somehow).

I'm aware that there are folks who believe that it has to be presented as psychic in order to be called mentalism, but I submit that at least you would be showing the potential of the human mind. Isn't that the real beauty of mental performances? That we show a potential to what the mind can do that is so far beyond what most people actually do with it?

Or just do what a lot of folks do: give a disclaimer. "Much of what I do appears psychic in nature, but it really isn't. I'm using various devious methods to make fools of all of you who believe in ESP as I do things that look like I'm reading minds. Catch me if you can!"

-Patrick
Luke Jonas
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For memory stuff and real life deductions I can highly recommend the work of ben Cardall!
Cervier
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Unless you want to give a lecture, you don't have to know anything about psychology. And you can quote me on that Smile

If you want to appear as a psychologist who's putting up shows, or as a specialist in whatever pseudoscience you come up with and want to sell courses on how to detect lies, how to read body language and all those skills you don't really possess, then haveing the speech and manners of whatever "scientist" you're impersonating is a must.

But if you want to be an entertainer, you don't need to. There's nothing wrong with having a character that's a scientist of some sort, but there's a wide spectrum of possible presentations that range from "I know exactly what I'm doing and am going to explain every step to you" to "let me show you intriguing stuff and let you decide for yourself how that's achieved".

I find presentations that leave some mystery to be more entertaining.

Let me give you an example: Derren Brown. He's the one responsible for everyone wanting to go the psychological route! Yet, I don't believe HE uses any word from a psychology thesaurus. Those who do are spectators or Youtube commentators trying to figure out how he does it and looking for hints in his presentation. And such hints he adroitely spreads in his presentation!

That's what I would advise you to do. Let people "guess" that you use psychology, body language, etc. When you're "reading someone's mind", hold his hand. Look into her eyes. Do it without stressing it but in a way observant people will notice. "Smart" spectators will soon be telling others around that you"felt her pulse" or "watched his retina".

If you're not an expert in a field, don't try to pass for one in front of people who might be more kknowledgeable than you are in that area.
You're in luck: the easier way is also the more entertaining Smile Keep some mystery.
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Djin
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To say the same thing another way.....

You are a performing artist, not a therapist, so your level of psychology training isn't really an issue. If you wanted to provide psychotherapy and had nothing more than a few classes under your belt, that would be problematic. You are crafting a story, creating the persona that you will portray when you are entertaining an audience. The "back story" doesn't need to be air tight and college degrees are optional.

In my rank amateur opinion, the less you explain the better. If you want to assure your audience that "this isn't sorcery, but it's amazing....." or maybe a joke-ish line like "a gentleman doesn't tell... neither do I..." that might be better than pitching some line about being a master of reading body language or whatever. Create a performing persona that you like to portray and play him to your audience. Create marvel, make them wonder, make them beg for more (or pay to re book you) and have fun with it. By deciding up front that you aren't going to be a mystic or a psychic, you are off the hook for having to be that character. Why complicate it by having to pretend to be a psychology expert? You can just be a guy who does amazing stuff. "No, it's not magic. No, it's not psychic. No, it's not psychology..." all the while blowing their minds by doing.....they don't know what.

Once when I was showing a few friends an effect I was working on and one blurted out the obligatory "how did you do THAT?!?" I tossed back "you were right there the whole time. Weren't you watching?" It got a huge laugh all around. No explanation. No claims of anything, just a punch line. I sometimes think I could build a show around that. You are welcome to do so.
Mr. Woolery
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The non-psychic approach will also help rule out certain effects. I assume you will be avoiding predictions, metal bending, direct mind reading, and past life regression, but that still leaves influence, body language, probability, and super mentality as possible approaches.

Patrick
Senor Fabuloso
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Thank you all. In terms of my reading material I have a very extensive library of mentalism work. Not only the classics but many obscure tomes rarely talked about in the Café. I don't want for material but do for perspective. As a magician my stories about life are enhanced by props. I believe that as a mentalist props don't matter and the story must be plausible and in fact real. This is where my concern for accuracy comes in. I'm not sure I have the chops to play a professor but I could certainly pull of a former ad rep or something. It will take some time to develop my character but I think it will focus on advertising and how the big companies try to influence us? My motivation would be to educate my audiences to both the overt and covert aspects of these manipulations.

The other thing I'm playing with is a gospel mentalism act that explores biblical knowings. I don't think it's been done before and feel it would make me very unique in the industry. In this approach I would just be a learned individual with insights to the bible. The understandings of human nature and the actions of man would come from the bible and be open to anyone wanting to learn. Of course my obvious motivation would be to get people to read the bible and move closer to understanding God.

I believe the second approach is much more ambitious but more gratifying. While the first consideration would be a more appropriate for the general public. On this quest for clarity I appreciate your input and hope that together we can develop a strategy for character development and motivation that not only helps me but the community in total.
"I think it's clear that if we move people emotionally and have them experience our show on a visceral level they will have been entertained." Me

"When I was young I thought I was clever and could change the world. But now I am wise and instead changed MYSELF." Sudo Nimh
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