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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » A basic psychology question (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Blueboy
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I am beginning to think this "mentalist" tag to this forum is because you people make my head hurt Smile

I would like to ask people with experience of psychology a question regarding leaving someone with the impression you read their mind and took something from it.. are you harming them in any way?

I have developed for myself an item and routine that leaves people with that impression, if I have left them with an idea that might do them harm I would like to know. I admit to me it's fun, but my performance of it is very serious and as I said apparently real.

Some of the the exposer issues touch on this potentialy being a problem, so I would genuinely appreciate guidance before I play with anymore heads.

BB
drwilson
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What is the framework for your mindreading?

Do you explain, for example, that based on their handwriting, their hair color, or their horoscope you knew what card they would think of?

Do you ask them to concentrate upon the chosen word so that you might be able to catch a glimpse of it?

Do you get them to like you first?

Do you give them the impression that you could pry thoughts out of their minds even if they resisted you?

If you are a nice, sensitive, caring peson with this weak and flawed gift that you never asked for that from time to time brings you sorrow, you are OK. If you are the psychic equivalent of a burgler you are not. Do you use the gift to help people, to spread a positive message, or do you just show off?

These are all things that you should think about if you general demeanor is serious and people are interpreting your feats as genuine.

Good luck on your journey, there is much good advice at the Café.

Yours,

Paul
procyonrising
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Theatrically, you are allowed to say and do whatever law will allow. That includes lying.

However, the question is whether making people believe in psychic powers and/or mind reading is dangerous. And I think the answer is, at best, hazy.

There are good arguments for both sides of the fence (dangerous and not), thus, I think it's best not to think of it that way... but let me explain why.

If you're not lying to people, telling them you're a psychic, there's always going to be someone else who will. Thus, it becomes an ethical question: is it right to lie because another will if you don't? Certainly, the greater answer is "yes." However, you are an entertainer, and as such, you are obligated to entertain. That may cause you to supersede such ethics, since you have to answer to a higher artistic standard. But, will it hurt?

There is no clear evidence that mentalism hurts people. None. However, as a figure of authority (and as an entertainer, you are a figure of authority), you have the ability to hurt people with your power (i.e. social influence). Thus, all I can ask is that you be very careful; treat your audience the way you'd want to be treated if you were in their place.

Hope it helps,
James.
Looch
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Would Luke Jermay's "Burst Bubble" suggestion enhance the idea that you are looking for?

it creates the impression that you have extracted the spectator's thought and they will be able to rememeber in time, the word actually leaving their mind and entering yours.

It's in the book "Building Blocks" and you can find it @ http://www.alakazam.co.uk
My Mentalism Products: https://www.readmymind.co.uk/
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shrink
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I don't believe it does any harm within the context of entertaining someone. If anything it offers a temporary escape from everyday existance. Some people will believe anyway even if you showed them how you did it.
bigplumbz
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Exactly Shrink. As Banachek's Psychological Subtelties says; you would not expect an actor to stand upon stage and after the performance explain that he is a real person, not the character he was playing. An interesting thought...
Jason Bay
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I don't think that Banachek's point (as referenced by BigPlumz) is valid under all circumstances, because it ignores the context of the performance and the cultural predispositions of the audience. A large percentage of the general public believes that ESP and psychic phenomena are real, and most of the remainder at least suspect that it might be possible... in other words, they may not know or believe that the mentalist is "acting". In comparison, everybody knows that an actor's job is to act, it is an established and accepted fact that few people would have trouble understanding; it is entirely unnecessary for Brad Pitt to give a disclaimer at the end of the movie.

That said, it does depend to a large degree on the context of the mentalist's performance (which Shrink also mentioned in one of his posts). If the audience has purchased tickets to go to a theater and see what is construed as a "magic show", then no, I don't feel that they will be unreasonably misled if the performer doesn't openly fess up to the fact that he's using trickery. On the other hand, I would personally find it morally questionable for a mentalist to walk up to a stranger in a bar or at a party, and spring some creepy mindreading on them with no further explanation. It might be really fun for the mentalist, but might range anywhere from "unnerving" to "life altering" for the stranger, depending on their personal beliefs and particular level of psychological vulnerability.

To sum up, Blueboy, I feel that if you sense your participant may be especially sensitive or vulnerable, give them some reassurance before you let them go. It might be a good idea to at least let them know that you are not doing anything they themselves couldn't do, if they knew how. They will still be JUST AS ENTERTAINED if they walk away knowing that you aren't truly posessed of supernatural powers.

- Jason Bay
fluffythepinkrabbit
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Then of course, on the other hand, giving someone a moment of true wonder may inspire them to better themselves and encourage the evolution of mankind to speed up so we can get off this ball of dirt and explore the galaxy together in understanding.

Everything great that anyone ever did seemed impossible at first. The impossible seems to have the power to inspire greatness.

Why not let the impossible be impossible?

Essentially, do what you feel comfortable with.

/fluffernutter
xanatos
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BB,

If I read you correctly, you're asking if, by creating the impression you have read their mind and have taken something from it, you're harming themm in some way, I'd offer these thoughts.

First, is the impression that you've taken something against their will; next, is the impression that you've taken something that they no longer have access to (vs. just reading it)- ie., they are now unable to recall something they might have thought they remembered just moments ago (this can be done with nlp/hypnosis).

Once you answer those questions, at least to yourself, then you'll know a bit better who NOT to do this type of effect for. Some suggestions are anyone who seems a bit unstable, who may have significant reactions to feeling their sense of privacy, or boundaries, have been violated in some way. This could include anyone who has sufferred any sort of abusive trauma in their lives. Additionally anyone who may have significant mental illness.

I mention these extremes of possibility because you have chosen to ask the question that you did, which shows that at least part of you may have a sense that some aspect of this effect could get caught up in some people's minds in certain ways they you'd rather not have happen. It's good that you've listened to those thoughts. Then again, perhaps they're not yours- some extras that came along with a previous thought extraction? Smile

Mentalism, when performed properly, can be a VERY powerful experience for people, and as such, it is a tool that needs to be handled with care and respect. Do so, and you'll be able to go far and do much good with it.

Dave Xanatos
Looch
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Sorry I read the initial post real fast, my response seems completly out of place my apologies
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Rob Johnston
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The human mind is a lot stronger than we think...but it can be weaker than we think as well.

I think you are safe honestly....I don't think you could do much damage.
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
drwilson
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I have always found it odd in these discussions that many magicians harbor the idea that people's beliefs are altered by their experiences. I know that taking the opposite stance seems ridiculous: of course people get their beliefs from their experiences!

Well, do they?

Consider the exposure of fake spiritualists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This did nothing to sway the masses who joined the spiritualist movement, the fastest-growing religious movement in American history. In the end, one of the Fox sisters was taken care of with great kindness by spiritualists, despite her having exposed her own trickery. I think they built the marker on her grave!

If someone already believes in psychic phenomena, you wouldn't be able to talk them out of it by giving them Corinda to read, let alone giving a mild disclaimer. If they don't believe in psychic phenomena, I doubt that they will set aside their beliefs because you were able to tell them the word they picked out of your book, or the card that they picked from your deck. If you are a very good performer, some of them wil go to bed bedazzled (congratulations), but they seem to get back to their ground state in a few days.

So how is it exactly that people arrive at their beliefs? How did you arrive at yours?

Ron Martin, in his excellent book on Tarot, summarizes his reading and observation by stating that for most people, they believe things that make them feel better. I think that he recommends "The True Believer" by Eric Hoffer, which is an terrific book by a careful thinker.

If you can't handle the idea that a single loser with a gun could kill the president, then there is a vast conspiracy of highly competant, dedicated, and utterly faithful people that were able to fool the Warren Commission and almost everyone else except Oliver Stone. It is more comforting to believe that we live in an orderly if hostile world than that people with great responsibility sometimes screw up at their jobs just like you do. This is one example of an odd (in my view) belief that makes people feel better. It's a free country.

I am certainly not advocating making people uncomfortable in order to prove that you are a person of power. If you are a powerful and sensitive psychic you should have a tremendous sense of empathy. Only a person incapable of reading the feelings of another person, let alone their thoughts, would deliberately intimidate and unsettle another person. Be gentle.

Yours,

Paul
treysdaddy
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I was initially bothered with doing mentalism because I didn't want to give the impression that I was really able to make predictions about future events and read minds. After seeing Banachek perform and hearing how he sets up his show, I realized that mentalism could be done without giving the wrong impression. Banachek states that he uses his 5 known senses to create the illusion of a sixth. After that is said, he blows the audience away with pure entertainment.

To the question about doing harm, I don't think a mature person would be affected that way, but we don't always know the maturity level of our audience.

Bill
Banachek
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Thanks Bill,

I do want to correct a statement above made by BigPlumz (what an interesting name Smile ) The statement:

"Shrink. As Banachek's Psychological Subtelties says; you would not expect an actor to stand upon stage and after the performance explain that he is a real person, not the character he was playing")

is really taken out of context as I personally feel that an actor playing the part is different than a mentalist playing a part. People know the actor is acting since it is in the context of a play. However, people do not know a mentalist is playing a part, they have no context to place your performance in since they have never seen a mentalist before. They are seeing you do things they can not explain with the mind other than for them to say it must be real mindreading. Often mentalists will argue heeatedly back and forth about the use of disclaimers and one thing said most often is that those who believe will and you will not change their minds, and those who do not will also not change thier minds so what is the use of a disclaimer. Well the opposite could be said as true to, if this is the case, what is the harm of a disclaimer. Having said this though I FEEL that I put myself in a place of authority by my perfomance of mind reading like skills and as a result I have a responsiblity to those in the grey area (those who are not sure but can be convinced that what I am doing is indeed real ESP)as a result I feel it is my job to remind them that what I am doing is not supernatural.

I can't tell you the thousands of times people have said in the middle of a performance "I did not believe in this stuff when I saw it on TV, but seeing it live right in front of my eyes convinces me." These are the people I FEEL I owe some responsibility to. Again, just stating what works for me.

I did want to clear that up because I did not want some to attribute the quoted statement to me as if I believe that is the case. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Ironically having said this, I also don't think arguments about he use of disclaimers change anyone's mind who use or do not use other than to cement what they already think is the right thing to do. However they do help those in the grey area to decide what suits them and why.

:dance:

All the best
In thoughts and Friendship
Banachek
Campus Performer of the Year two years in a row
Year 2000 Campus Novelty Act
PEA Creativity Award Recipient
http://www.banachek.com
Blueboy
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Thanx to all for sharing their experience and knowledge, especially in taking the trouble to do so in such detail that I, and hopefully some others at the same junction, might form a more informed opinion for myself, it really is appreciated.

Looch I have Luke's book, but have only toyed with his Convincers 3 & 4 in conjunction with bending a coin, your recommendation though for possibly using it in the mind reading routine is appreciated and a good one.

Cheers
BB
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