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Topic: "Empath" Archetype
Message: Posted by: Anand Khalsa (Aug 14, 2017 12:12AM)
Hi all!

After being pulled away for a while from mentalism by theater and college, I've been diving back in these last few weeks.

I've been going through the process of constructing my show (structuring, scripting, blocking), and a key piece of the puzzle that I haven't fully fleshed out is my character.

I've read Fundamentals, and Cassidy's thoughts on character have helped tremendously, but I wanted some feedback on a specific mentalism 'archetype' that I find fascinating, and that I haven't seen discussed in any depth.

The archetype I'm interested in is an[i] "Empath"[/i], a mentalist who primarily picks up on emotions, desires, sensations, and memories. It would seem this character isn't too far removed from the [i]"Telepathist"[/i], just with a particular focus. Since most people consider themselves to be empathetic or intuitive, it would also seem that audiences would very easily understand and connect to the concept.

I feel I've always been attracted to effects and presentations closer to this side of things, and haven't had nearly as much interest in demonstrations of skill (i.e memory, mathematics, spelling).

I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the advantages, limitations, possibilities and perception of this presentational style. If you have performed primarily as an empath-type character, what has your experience been? Additionally, are there any specific effects, books, or performers you suggest researching?

I may not be framing the question correctly or articulately, so please let me know if what I'm asking isn't clear. Any and all help/feedback is highly appreciated.

~ Anand
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Aug 14, 2017 04:14AM)
Look for Greg Arce's Deep Thought for a routine that is right in line with this. Lovely piece of mentalism. I don't think I have the acting chops to pull it off, myself, but if you have studied theater, I bet it would be great for you. First in the book and I find it truly inspiring.

In general, there are a lot of presentations that could be done with empathy. State that for anyone who is not a sociopath, deception is uncomfortable. That means any sort of lie detector routine can depend on your ability to sense, not lies, but the discomfort felt when lying. A card divination can be as simple as "say yes to every question I ask you" and you ask whether it is red, name the suits, etc. By sensing where they are most comfortable you can narrow it right down to one card. Simple character readings that focus around emotions would also be possible, but you'd have to work out how to do that. Perhaps asking them to think of particular memories? I'm just brainstorming here, but I see it as a great sort of character.

The limitation of an empath character is that you can't really credibly read words or numbers from a mind. You'd have to look for those times when they react to what you say or show them and read their emotional reaction. Could be very tedious very soon. Predictions of any sort are right out. Q&A is also a no-go.

However, if you can put together enough material for a decent show and keep the character consistent throughout, I think this is a great idea. The limitations of the character are exactly what make it so interesting. A precognitive clairvoyant telepath is always going to have much of mentalism open to him. An empath has to be really believable to be entertaining. And if you don't want challenges after the performance, many of the "what am I thinking" folks can be told "I don't know what you are thinking, but I do know what you are feeling. Mostly combative, a little nervous, perhaps because you are worried I will reveal something personal, and there's some genuine curiosity in there, too. But trying to put words and pictures to it would be impossible for me. That's not what I do."

Message: Posted by: Last Laugh (Aug 14, 2017 04:18AM)
Great thoughts, Mr. Woolery.

Some things that come up for me:

I don't think that too many mentalists have explored this area, but certainly many psychics, readers and mediums have. That may be a good thing as it's wide open for interpretation in a theatrical sense.

Good mentalism is good theater. So much of the material/methods out there can be adapted to vastly different characters. I can't think of any real limitations and the possibilities are endless.

If you fell drawn to create a character that is an empath, then treat it like writing and acting in a play. Once you have some particular personality aspects and story arcs, then you find the material that best expresses that. There are so many methods and techniques out there, that's really the easy part.

Finally - and this is the hard part - you need to find ways to fit your spectators into the story in a way that is entertaining and has just the right amount of depth. As mentalists, we need minds (or feelings) to read, and we are performing for real people. So there is a certain amount improvisation that is necessary to create a unique and meaningful experience for the spectator. If you are an empath, you are necessarily getting into people emotions. The nice thing about 'think of a word from this book' or whatever is that it doesn't require the spectator to be vulnerable at all whereas if you are dealing with emotions and feelings, you need to be much more careful how you approach it, especially in front of other people. So you need to find a balance. This of course is different depending the setting, venue, and type of audiences.

Be curious to see what you come up with!
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Aug 14, 2017 12:16PM)
It occurs to me that a book test could reveal the emotions a particular word might bring up. Be really spot-on with it. If you can arrange things so the participant reads "fresh baked bread" you can ask the person to imagine whatever the page says and then get the sense of comfort, a childlike feeling of anticipation, for some reason your mouth is watering, and whatever else your version of an empath would feel. At the end, they reveal the thought and your emotions and responses clearly fit.

This is a really fun thought exercise.

Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Aug 14, 2017 12:29PM)
Oh! No answer to this one, but a question: How would the emotions of a whole theater full of people affect you? How do you protect yourself from the overwhelming effects of people being skeptical or excited or afraid of what you might reveal?

Actually, this would be a useful question for a telepath character as well. Now I have to think about this a bit.

Message: Posted by: Juanma_González (Aug 14, 2017 01:05PM)
I'm really interested in "Fundamentals" by Bob Cassidy, and as I can read in your posts, it seems even a more interesting reading than I thought. Do you know if it's only available as an eBook or if it was also printed, by any chance?
Message: Posted by: Max Wells (Aug 14, 2017 01:33PM)
Juanma, trust me on this one. You need to get THIS: http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/3810
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Aug 14, 2017 02:27PM)
The book Artful Mentalism 2 includes Fundamentals. I really prefer paper books.

Message: Posted by: Amirá (Aug 14, 2017 03:04PM)
[quote]On Aug 14, 2017, Juanma_González wrote:
I'm really interested in "Fundamentals" by Bob Cassidy, and as I can read in your posts, it seems even a more interesting reading than I thought. Do you know if it's only available as an eBook or if it was also printed, by any chance? [/quote]

Welcome Juanma!

Some work from Bob is available in digital format. His Volume 2 is a compilation of eBooks. If you have the chance to get anything form Bob, do it. He was the Master Mindreader for a reason.
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Aug 14, 2017 03:32PM)


years ago, I had a week's training by a top female criminal psychologist...we spent lunchtimes together, she was very interesting - one thing she said stuck in my mind, she said that empathy doesn't truly exist...because even though we try to put ourselves in someone else's shoes, its not authentic enough, we don't have their history, their views, their experiences...so when we say "I know how you feel!" you can cause that person to go "hang on, how dare you! you know nothing about me and my life!"...

and even two people who have similar upbringings and life experiences can still react and act very differently towards the same kind of problem/life experience...

so its a difficult one (in my opinion) in reality. however, as this is mentalism, fill yer boots!

I've always thought its healthier and more authentic to practice sympathy rather than empathy... I don't need to understand your problems in an empathic way, but if I am sympathetic to your problem, I can talk to you about it and then do something proactive to support you...

anyway, that's my tuppence worth...

this might be fun to think about - http://themindunleashed.com/2013/10/30-traits-of-empath.html
Message: Posted by: Last Laugh (Aug 14, 2017 04:40PM)
In physics, there's a phenomenon called 'entrainment' which is the tendencies of some types of waves to synchronize when in proximity. I've always loved the idea and I think it's something you could explore as an underlying mechanism for empathy.

It also gives a nice 'method' for certain types of synchronicity (that is, a presentation, a purported method).

Just a thought.
Message: Posted by: Juanma_González (Aug 15, 2017 05:35AM)
Thanks for the warm welcome, Pablo!

I have the volume I of Fundamentals in an eBook format, and I found it amazing. Now I'm looking for the other three volumes.

As Max Wells and Mr. Woolery suggest, I'll get my copy of the Artful Mentalism, as I really prefer having and reading paper books. And my personal collection is growing a lot this summer thanks to you all ;)

Thanks a lot, guys!
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Aug 15, 2017 12:46PM)
Was any of this useful to you, Anand?

Message: Posted by: Anand Khalsa (Aug 15, 2017 04:57PM)
Yes, definitely! I was just seeing what direction the discussion went.

Thanks so much for all the food for thought!
Message: Posted by: qichi (Aug 28, 2017 07:10PM)
What are the roots of your skillset? Where'd you get your reps up, practice? That's the story that's got to be believable, and ever so easily. Effortlessly given.

People tend to believe things happen for a reason, but not miraculously so. Lock into logic.

What path to understanding suits the character your presence exudes? How'd you come to be the empath you are today? And that ought to explain away how you do these things you do. Have a backstory, answer questions before anyone has the chance to ask them. It's been told.

You're into theater and the like? A young man backstage mixing about with the crew and the travelling troupes that passed through playing the playhouse you called home for some reason... ?

In the parlance of our times, where'd you get your 10,000 hours in?

Direct indirection.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Aug 29, 2017 05:55AM)
I would suggest that "empath" based demonstrations can work very well with small, intimate groups in which their interest/experience with Mentalism is unknown.

For larger groups paying to see Mentalism type demonstrations you can stick to "more meaty" themes.

You might check out "exciton" as a linked theme to empath in humans. I have and it was very well received, especially with "agers" into crystals.
That is, if you have an audience thinking a crystal can have a special power, you can use that to morph into you having a heightened empathic ability. (and sell pendulums too)
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Aug 30, 2017 08:31PM)
Star Trek often dramatizes empathic powers. For example,