Is there much genuine psychology to mentalism, or should I just appreciate mentalism as a fun category of magic with a good twist?
I'm the typical guy who got interested in mentalism after watching Derren Brown and believing that people can to some extent develop superhuman skills through practice. I did get somewhat obsessed with it and while having almost no background in magic, I ventured into watching every mentalism performance videos I could find, and then proceeding to find which ones were real and which ones were magic tricks.
Unfortunately, it was a tad bit depressing (no worries, I still appreciate watching magic/mentalism for what it is) finding out the more I studied and read books how so little of it was what I hoped it was. (On the positive note, I did find an extremely positive addition to my life during my search, so my mischievous venturing did not go to dust - I'll share below). During the past year and a half, I compiled a list of things I believe are genuine psychology, and wanted to ask some of the more experienced people here to let me know if some of the other one's here I'm guessing at are real or part of the art. It's kind of important to me because I'm deciding my career right now and I have every intention of making this my career as a entertainer if enough of mentalism/psychology is true (I'm thinking of stage hypnosis and mentalism as my to be expertise).
1. Lie detecting (I believe this is true, Derren Brown performs it a lot, and I looked up Paul Eckman's FACS program along with some of his books and it seems something I can practice) (I can't find a single dvd on it tho there are numerous amounts of books)
2. Handwriting analysis & people-reading through pictures. (Handwriting analysis based on the shape and tilt of letters is false, but how Derren performs it in Evening of Wonders by reading out spacing of words, where it's written on the card, gauging the emotional state of the person at the time of writing, seems true. In the dating scene, there is also a person reading routine called The Cube (mentioned in Neil Straus' book The Game for people who are interested) where you ask a person to describe a cube (person's self-image), ladder (ambition/goals), horse (ideal lover), flowers (friends and family), storm (problems in life), and based on what the person sees in his or her picture (ie. big cube means confidence/big person, hard to climb but tall ladder means lots of ambitions but having difficulty achieving them) you can tell things about him or her; it's fairly accurate once you get the hang of it. And I just ordered Tree Reading by Rudy Hunter where you do cold-reading based on how people draw you trees. (Like how Derren Brown selected his contestants when performing his Russian Roulete live on TV - he just used simple drawings rather than a specific object like a tree)
3. NLP used as a tool of suggestion. And NLP used to guess what a person is thinking (going a bit more advanced than just using simple eye-accesing cues).
4. Memory (Harry Lorayne style - this was the positive thing I was talking about, can't say just how much it helped me at university.)
With all the misdirection and illusion tricks that I have found out in the past, I'm starting to doubt now if there is that much real psychology left after learning just how clever magicians can get. These are some questions I am dying to find out and would really appreciate if some of you guys can answer them for me.
1. Is micro-expression reading to read what people are thinking achievable if I practice it long enough?
2. Is there some genuine psychology body language reading mentalist dvd or resource? (So far I haven't been able to find any dvd courses teaching lie detecting routines other than just the typical lie detecting books which I thought weren't the most useful) (I bought Luke Jermay's Emotional Intelligence routine thinking I'd learn how to read body language cues but it turned out to be just stuff from 13 steps (tho it was still insightful watching it))
3. Is number guessing based on people's micro-expression reading real? or is that involving some side trick off camera for example when Derren Brown and other mentalists perform it?
4. Are there enough genuince psychological/nlp type forcing to make a couple routines out of them or is this just mentalism trick I happened to not have come accross yet?
5. When I see various mentalists perform drawing guessing (ie. ask person to draw a simple picture and then guesses it correctly by asking questions and reading body language). Same with when I see people mind reading simple words through observation of body language (Derren Brown, Doug Segal). Is Doug Segal telling the truth by the way when he says he was deterred by the deception involved in magic and made a switch to mentalism or is that just marketing? He does write in his website (http://www.dougsegal.com/htmlSite/cu.html
) that he performs mind-reading through body language type of feats as part of his show.
6. Is thought reading through body language real when Derren Brown correctly identifies a childhood memory of a cook on his show by the way he reacts to Derren's statement and when Keith Barry performs the identical feat (slight variation) on Jessica Simpson?
7. Is there enough real world genuine mentalism to have a whole act based on that? Or is it mandatory to learn non-psychology based effects to become a full-time mentalist? (I'm thinking of stage hypnosis and mentalism as my career but for the mentalist part I want to focus on genuine stuff with minimal use of gimmicks. I know simply using the gimmicks will produce the same if not better effect but I'm really passionate about genuine applicable psychology).
--> is this type of stuff for real without stooges or pre-setups? (Derren Brown is performing mind-readings at a bar) Is there a resource that I can consult to learn this type of mentalism/psychology? (I've seen other people perform similar stunts too but now knowing that there is so many ways of doing these things, I just wanted to ask in the eyes of experienced mentalists, is this real or with the aid of some hidden technique?)
I've seen some of these feats performed by people not as famous as some of the people I have mentioned here, (mainly on youtube) but I still wanted to find out for sure as I will be dedicated a lot of my time and money to this if there's enough applicable psychology I can incorporate into my acts.)
I know this is a long question but I just can't get this out of my head right now and really wanted to know what the real possibilities of psychology is. (I haven't watched the TV series The Mentalist or Lie to Me yet, I'm not sure how much they'd help me learning).