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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Thy Psychological Mentalist, is it Mentalism? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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TheNightBringer89
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Just a few thoughts I have, wondered what you guys think about this. In his book, Paul Harris talks about the moment of astonishment, in magic when someone witnesses an apparent miracle they achieve a moment of astonishment because what they have seen doesn't fit in any of their neatly filed and organized ideas in their mind. It lasts about 10 seconds and then it gets filed into their, "it went up his sleve", or, "I don't know how he did it but its just a trick", file. What I love about mentalism is that they cannot file it in any of these boxes, making the moment of astonishment last so much longer. They don't have the comfort of putting it into their "it went up his sleve" file.

Now think about it, if you tell your audience you're getting your information by non-verbal communication and body language, bam you instantly kill the mystery. They file it in their "hes doing it by body language" file. I mean lets say your going to tell when someones lying and you say "There you just blinked your eyes that was a lie!" Even if this has absolutely nothing to do with the method the audience WILL believe it, no mystery. It becomes more of like watching a juggler or muscician, while very entertaining and being very impressed at the skill theres no mystery, no astonishment "Oh hes just very good at reading people".

Now consider if you tell them what you are doing is psychic, or make no claims at all. They're mind is racing, "Is what I'm seeing real?" "Is this possible?" "Can I learn to do this?". Now someone could argue that if you pull off a convincing enough performance they could file it in their "He really is psychic" box. But IMO This is much better than the "hes doing it by body language". Here is why I think this is so, Body language, like hypnosis, is believed to be possible by people, though they may not know exactely how it works, or what can be accomplished with it, they know it exists and it is possible. Psychic ability has always been shrowded with mystery, the government spends money researching it, people have psychic challenges, etc. Now they see someone who is apparently reading minds and predicting the future, OR they see someone who openly admits at the begining and throughout that he is giving the illusion of mind reading through body lagnuage, which do you think invokes more mystery? more astonishment?

What are your opinions on this? Please I don't want to start an argument just a healthy discussion. I have great respect for psychological mentalists, I just think that it gives a layperson a completely different experience.
"Dreams are born of imagination, fed upon illusions, and put to death by reality."

It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong,
If you're not like the others then you don't belong.
enriqueenriquez
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Nice topic.

IMHO the entire psychological thing has something very positive: it’s an invitation to explore the wonder within yourself.

In the other hand, is a natural response to an ultra-materialistic world, where there is no space to real magic.
drwilson
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I think there is room for some performers to use both approaches.

Your audience walks in to see your show. They are sitting there with many of their everyday cares, maybe worried about their bills, thinking about their jobs, whatever. You would like to get them to the point where they have seen something that they cannot explain.

Do you open with that effect? No.

Why not take them there gradually? Perhaps you open with a memory demonstration, reading body language, or handwriting analysis that is uncannily accurate. Their level of interest is up. You have shown them that you have developed your mind's latent abilities to an unusual degree. You move on to psychometry or design duplication. This seems a little harder to explain and they are drawn further into the world of unusual mental phenomena.

Finally, you say, I would like to attempt something very difficult that may not succeed. And then you absolutely flatten them, leaving them gasping for air.

Your opening material suggests that you are, in fact, good at reading people. By the end they have no idea what to think.

Yours,

Paul
Brash
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Every member of your audience will seek explanations for what they see and experience. Tricks, body language, psychic powers, all of these explanations and many more will be used by your audience. There are many who will find "psychic powers" as believable an explanation as "body language". No matter what you claim (or disclaim) your audience will always try and explain it.

The wonder and astonishment must come from what you do, not how you do it.
chicagoman
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Great thinking, NightBringer!

I agree that the psychological explanation is less magical and mysterious. Also, it occurs to me that it seems more about the performer and how clever or perceptive he is over us unobservant, thick-headed dolts.

The inner dialog that goes on with me when performing (I never specifically say outloud that I am psychic) is that I'm being perceptive and intuitive on a vast number of levels too difficult to describe; that I'm not sure how I'm doing it but it looks like magic perhaps in the realm of being psychic.

If anything, I have more fun performing it that way.
J ack Galloway
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I tell them exactly what I am doing and that creates an amazing audeance reaction.
Just becouse one is told the truth it does not mean they can undrestand it.

And in the non undrestanding lives the astonishment of what is possible.

Best Wishes

Jack
bobser
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When asked what I do I always reply that I am: 'a kind of...magician?'
They always look puzzled, before asking what I mean, to which the reply is:
'Well, for example...' and then, I astonish them... with a mixture of misrepresentation and ommittance.
Bob Burns is the creator of The Swan.
Stephen Thompson
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Better that they believe you are using psychology than doubt you are psychic.
Jordan Waller
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I think that knowing this you can use it to your advantage, by saying you are using Psychology to produce your miracles you are giving them an opportunity to follow the routine, right up untill the climax were you hit them with something so inexplicable that they are back in the astonishment mindset already described.

You use your patter as misdirection in this way not just to divert their eyes away from the dirty work, or just to have something to say. You use it to lure them into a false security, ie. taking them streight down the garden path as I beleive Derren Brown says. Once they are hanging on your every word you smack them with a cricket bat of a climax.

This is in fact almost performing your effects as sucker effects only in a much friendlier and complimentry way. You create your routines so that they realy are just buildding up to something that is beyond anything imaginable. AT least this is my view on the matter.
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Alexander Marsh
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I personly prefer a slight un-spoken hint that I may posses some esoteric skills (which doesn't have to mean your standed Psychic ideas) but then again I don't outwadly state, "look I do this using Psychology". (and to do such a thing does, I belive destroy the chance for wonder and mystery.)

I belive, you can't, and shouldn't try to control what someone thinks, they will make of it what they will, according to there own belifes that they hold true to them.
So, in my opinion you shuoldnt force a 'belif' or 'point of view' on anyone, especially as a performer (or in any possition of power), now with out geting in to the old, and very stupid (stupid because, it goes no where really f****** fast) debate on ethics, I personly prefer to play to there own belifs and assumptions, not force MINE on them.

Mean while back to the question at hand....
I think Psychological Mentalsim is more mentalism than most Psychic forms. Psychic's are all about esoteric, otherwordly powers, mentalism has allways been about the MIND. Which I guess is what the psychologcal approach is all about, well at least it used to be! even this has been basterdized (if that's a word!).
But then again if we take Uri Geller as an example, he 'is' Psychic, but hes all about the power of the Mind. A true MENTALism theme.
However Mediums are not mentalists (forgeting methods for a moment) because what they do isn't about the mind, its about talking to dead people (to out it bluntly).

Ofcorse this all only my opinion.
TheNightBringer89
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PsychoMagi very good points, I agree with almost everything you say. Though I do disagree about the psychic part not being mentalism because it has to do with otherworldy beings. At least in MY presentation it is not otherworldy beings but that I have tapped into some area of my mind that others have not been able to do so. I agree with you about the mediums.

Now about telling them its psychologcial then hit them with something that cannot be explained, I disagree, please keep in mind these are all my opinions and I respect everyone here and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But I believe psychology can explain EVERYTHING in mentalism. that's why derrens shows bore me sometimes because it is all psychologicaly presented. I mean what can you do that can't be explained by psychological manipulation if that's your presentation? Bear in mind the audience has no idea of the LIMITS of psychological manipulation, if you show them mind reading and say you got the pin number by watching the tiny movements in his hands they WILL belive it. Then if you show them something and offer no explanation, they WILL come to the conclusion you used psychological manipulation and you just aren't showing them how this time.

Again just my opinion. But I feel watching a psychological mentalist is more like watching a juggler, someone showing great skill but nothing truly astonishing.
"Dreams are born of imagination, fed upon illusions, and put to death by reality."

It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong,
If you're not like the others then you don't belong.
Alexander Marsh
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Intresting NightBringer, and your perfectly intitled to think about things (mentalism) differently from me. At least you think!

I see your point about the psychological mentalist not being all that impressive, but derren has a knack for it, that we as people 'in the know' find it hard to see.

Personaly I think a biger-ish issue is what Ive known one person to call 'the Derren Brown effect', that being that the UK puplic don't find the idea that we give off unconsious signels that 'amazing' because Derren has been exposed (and I use the word normally, not in a silly magic sence) to the hole UK.
I belive Marc Salem came to the UK with his satge show and it wasnt brilliantly recived by the British Puplic (we are a tuff-nosed bunch you know). Well at least on a cople of nights.

I think many, many mentalists, well....magicians, missunderstand the ideas, the GOOD ideas behind this kind of presentation as they tend to just look at the 'tricks' involved and try despratly to make it seem they really are gifted in psychological reading/perssuasion but come off as "look at me, I say I'm not psychic, I say is psychological, but I'm still rubish!"
In fact it might be better put how you kind of put it,NightBringger, showing skill but still nothing special.

I don't know whats come over me but I appear to be ranting and raveing a lot in posts, forgive me, Ive recently split up with my girlfriend and have far to much time on my hands.
Jordan Waller
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I think my post may have been a little misunderstood though only slightly. My references to psychology as a front has been taken a little too extreme than what I wanted. I meant that I only hint at psychology I do not go to the direct extremes that Derren does, ie. small movements in the bones of your hand. I hint at the psychology aspect through my questions and pumping of information. Its then just a matter of killing them with an effect which must be psychic as psychology can simply not accomplish this. Things like PK effects and certain mindreading and prediction effects can accomplish this with the right presentation. Hope this makes more sense, and doesn't sound too repetitive. I know what I mean in my mind its just getting it into words.
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Alexander Marsh
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Jordan, I know EXACTLY what you mean, on both accounts, i.e. the hint of a psycholgical method but also about the not being able to put it in to words.
TheNightBringer89
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Hey Jordan thanks for clarifying. If you just hint at psycholigical influence than that is not what I am talking about. I'm talking about full on "Derren" presentations.
"Dreams are born of imagination, fed upon illusions, and put to death by reality."

It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong,
If you're not like the others then you don't belong.
Jordan Waller
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Ok I understand. Glad I could offer my insights, hope I helped anyhow.
One day I will write a book

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website coming soon...
Dark Thought 13
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Great topic NightBringer89..

I personally think it totally depends on who you are portraying when you perform.. As an example someone like Blaine could not pull off the psychological ploy.. Now I know he's not a full on mind guy but trust me in his prime (first 2 specials) many lay audiences I worked for really thought he had something else mysterious about him.. These are not drunks or kids but people with good jobs and well educated..

By the way I am certainly not a Blaine lover, or equally a Blaine basher..

I think for some this type of presentation would fail miserably as they just don't have the mysterious appearance. Where as someone like Marc Salem appears very knowledgeable, and when he says he has studied human behavior most don't doubt it.

I think its a case of looking in the mirror and deciding on who you are and what you can be in the eyes and minds of your audience..

Which is stronger???

That again depends on audience's, spectators etc..

I have done UFB using the psychological approach on spectators who get freaked, others enjoy it to but say "that's very impressive... but that spoon bending is unbelieveable."

Whilst others may say may say "Very clever trick with that spoon, I couldn't see how you did it.. but that book thing was great, you'd be excellent to have in our firm.."

I guess it is us that makes the effects strong and sometimes maybe we make them weak?

DT13
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ClouDsss
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I usually do not suggest to the audience if I am psychic or using psychology. I think it is up to them to decide what they prefer to believe in. They are some who thinks that I am psychic and when I tell them I am not, it kinda shrinks the magical moment. It works the other way too

in addition, I feel that it depends on the performance we are doing. For example, I will try not to include a bending effect in readings and vice versa. IMO it will only confuse the audience who believes I am using psychological aspects and vice versa for those who think I am psychic.

However, when appraoched by an audience on how I did the miracle, (of course I wont reveal the method) I will usually tell them that I use psychological aspects such as body language, facial expression etc. IMO it allows them to believe that they too can do it and the best thing is, I know that by telling them that, I am not actuall lying to them. however, like I stated earlier, when not asked, I keep mum and let them decide for themselves.

To quote from Banachek's book "psychological subtitles", which I agree with (well, not really quote as I cant remember the exact words):

"If you tell the audience that you are psychic, it may take away the effect's strength as they will believe you are merely doing what you can. E.g. When you are in space, no one will be astonished when you do a levitation as there is no gravity."

finally, I hope I dint unintentionally offend anyone's beliefs. Jus stating how I feel about the matter

cheerios
Think outside the box, cos people are all thinking inside now!! - ClouDsss
Jordan Waller
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ClouDss - In what way would you post be taken as offensive?
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ClouDsss
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Jordan:

From my experience from posting in another part of this Café, sometimes differing opinions leads to opposition in a very strong sense.

this is more so since I have chosen to quote something from banachek's book psychology subtities. Some mentalists may not agree with him, that we should never state that we are psychic, and hence might not really like it.

Just like some magicians debate upon the stuff in strong magic by darwin ortiz, that magic is entertaining in itself. Sometimes debates like this do get out of hand and become heated due to differences in beliefs

I was jus being cautious, maybe a bit overly. Thanks for the reminder Smile

cheerios
Think outside the box, cos people are all thinking inside now!! - ClouDsss
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