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 Post subject: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:40 pm 
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Penguin

Joined: 20 Mar 2010
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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).

8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5SgUSHd46M --> 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).


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:11 pm 
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Penguin

Joined: 20 Mar 2010
Posts: 8
Well, for lie detecting, I just checked out Drew McAdams

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv1ty4_UE3w

seems pretty cool.

Only thing, I couldn't find any wikipedia article on him.


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:42 pm 
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born to perform.

Joined: 10 Dec 2005
Posts: 1394
Location: Newmarket, ON, Canada
Trunkster wrote:
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)
First off, mentalism is much better explained in books, not dvds. Secondly, lie detection can be both psychology and not psychology. It can be simply an effect, does not have to be true. Even Derren might just be doing this with very clever presentation.
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.
It's not.
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.
What you've described above may be you buying into a bit of cold reading... I wouldn't buy 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)
My point, as I meant but may not have communicated well enough in the previous one, will be, do not buy into things that promise you can read into people's thoughts by having them draw or describe something to you. You should maybe look into things like Graphology (more so what has been proven to be false about stuff like that) then again, now that I think of it, you may have already mentioned that you have.
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).
A favourite quote I have from Blizt (a member here) is something along the lines of "NLP stands for 'Not Likely Possible' "
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.)
Memory feats can be both something that is real and not real... it depends on the performance.

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.
A very intellectual thought
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?
Possibly... it would take at LEAST 20 years of solid practice and implementation to get to the levels of people like Derren and Paul Ekman. However, in the meantime, it is much easier to accomplish these things with trickery.

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))
The books are very useful, but I'm assuming that you're more of a visual person (and that you want to possibly learn quickly instead of studying hard and long). Maybe you should have come here sooner to ask questions about what books and stuff you should be reading/researching. Then you probably wouldn't be as depressed about some of your purchases as you are now. But it's okay, you're here now.

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?
In my experience, number guessing is not real. It's not necessarily an "off-camera" trick, but it could just be filmed in such a manner that you do not see what he's really doing. You can perform something like this live though, and in front of people's faces at all angles.

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?
Luke Jermay has a few NLP style effects. Maybe look him up again. Possibly check out "Building Blocks" if you haven't already. And I'm not sure to which specific mentalism effect you are referring to here so not so sure I can answer that. It could all just be clever presentation as I said before. But again, it depends on the effect.

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.
It could just be a part of his character that he has developed. Drawing guessing and word divination is something that can be achieved through trickery as well.

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?
Probably not, most likely just cold reading.

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).
It depends on what you mean by real world mentalism. If you mean psychology, no. If you mean mentalism presented in a psychology fashion, yes. That's how I perform. I would go out on a limb and say it IS mandatory that you learn mentalism in order to become a full-time mentalist. Since mentalists don't necessarily perform psychological illusions. Most of them just perform mentalism. Stage hypnosis will be a good path to making yourself seem more like a psychological illusionist. However, if you were truly serious about the application of psychology. You would study psychology. Just don't count on it being something that you can use to make a magic show. In reality, psychology is not like that.

8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5SgUSHd46M --> 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?)
Short Answer: No. There is no long answer for that one really. There is no single resource for you to learn these sorts of things. What a good mentalist does, is he/she combines their knowledge from a vast variety of sources and creates something which gives off this effect. I would say this isn't real without some form of hidden technique (but it's not really a hidden technique to me, then again, I'm not going to outright tell you what the technique is, because 1) I don't know you're committed, 2) It's against the rules

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.)
1) Please do not scour youtube in an attempt to find answers to these things. It's just a piece of advice, I'm not saying you did this. But if you did, it is extremely frowned upon on these forums. I would doubt that there is much psychology you can incorporate into your 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).
They won't help your learning. They are fiction, so they are dramatically presented in an effort to make things seem cooler.


My main advice to you would be this:
1) Do not start off your mentalism education as a Derren clone. He's an amazing mentalist I will agree, but do NOT become another one of those people who just emulate him.
2) Do not believe everything a mentalist says. A lot of things we say can be lies meant to go along with what we are doing and also to help distract the audience from what we're REALLY doing.
3) Read 13 steps again.
4) Read Prism by Max Maven
5) Read Theatre of the Mind
6) Read a Derren Brown book or two if you can find them
7) Possibly buy Mind, Myth and Magick as it is a fantastic resource on mentalism
8) Practice, practice, practice
9) NEVER believe what a fellow mentalist says in his presentation. You know for yourself how things are accomplished by now, figure out a method to what they're doing with trickery, and present it as psychology if you like.
10) I can't say this enough, DO NOT BECOME A DERREN CLONE.
That's all I can say. Hope some of this has helped.


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 5:40 am 
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Penguin

Joined: 20 Mar 2010
Posts: 8
thanks, that was very informative.

I did read Derren Brown's Tricks of the Mind and watched parts of his Pure Effects video (the magic stuff, not the mentalism stuff). Yes, the Cube thing I talked about is cold-reading, I guess it's just a good basis for cold-reading just like using the palm as a basis for cold-reading; I am saying it however from having done the cold-reading routine at least 50 times on different people. hmm, now I don't really know what to do.

I want to add that I still enjoyed the helstromism part of Banachek's Psi Series volume 3. The stuff Criss Angel used for his hellstromism stunt at the car dealership (I believe Banachek works with Criss)


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:36 am 
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You have to understand that magicians, mentalists, and stage hypnotists are all performers. They get paid to entertain, not to do real magic, real mind reading, or real hypnosis. Derren Brown always tells people that what he does is not real. It is a mixture of psychology, suggestion, magic, etc etc.

Whether you really read someone's micro expressions to divine a number or whether you cheat, you get the same effect. The difference is that with the latter, you are spot on all the time. And if you are getting paid to perform then you better be.

Derren Brown uses a lot of pre-show work because of the cameras and the impossibility factors involved. He has rooted his character in believability which is why it is so easy to think that it is genuine.

All performers (Derren Brown) included, are showman. If they decided to be the "artist" by trying to really read minds then they would find themselves out of work. Every top notch performer knows they are getting paid to put on a show and that is exactly what they bring to the table.


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:33 pm 
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ya, I just got a reply from Drew McAdams when I inquired how much of his stuff was real (nice thing I got a quick reply too) and he said lie detecting was for real and then he also added that when he's performing, he also mixes in a healthy does of non-real-psychology based stuff too and that often what the audience is thinking is going on is not what really is going on.


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:16 am 
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For what it's worth, I just got my copy of ParaLies from Penguin. I haven't had enough time to read it all yet, but a cursory flick through suggests that a fair amount of the "book test" routines are grounded in psychology and [the intricacies of the English] language rather than tricks and forcing. It's a pricey little book, though, so let me read it properly before you go splashing out on it - I'd hate to have offered a recommendation that turns out to be wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:50 pm 
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lol, no prob.

For the moment, the only one other than hypnosis that I know for at least 95% certainty is real is lie detecting. Especially since Drew McAdams replied back to my e-mail saying it was.


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:43 pm 
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People like Derren Brown use a variety of techniques, ranging across the board from the most low-tech and almost insulting methods (e.g. a one-way force deck) to incredibly high-tech solutions. Thrown in are genuine psychological techniques and pure chance, usually with a more sure-fire out attached to them.

Pretty much all of what Derren does would count for nothing if he wasn't an immaculate showman. I saw Marc Paul do a mentalism set at a convention and it fell completely flat because it was clear that what was being performed was nothing more than tricks; Derren gives a story to what he does, very well told, laced with charming humour, disgusting yet somehow entirely appropriate sexual innuendo, and the occasional f-bomb.

Lie detection can either be done through reading body language or through more conventional magicians techniques I imagine that Derren probably uses the former in that instance, yet I've seen, and performed, fake lying tests that work just as well.

When people say, "Don't be a Derren Clone," this can be expanded to pretty much, "Don't be a clone of anyone", i.e. find a character that suits you and go with that. If you happen to be very charming and rather dashing, and wear tailored suits and are gay, then maybe you will adopt a persona similar to Derren's; otherwise, your attempts at copying him will be seen as just that, and once people start comparing you to someone who's a lot better than you, along come the, "Well I saw this guy do such-and-such on TV. Can you do that?"s.


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:51 pm 
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ya, good point.

I know a fake lie detecting routine I learned from a friend too. And some of his memory stunts are probably fake too (since I know how one of them is done where he memorizes the whole deck).

I got to say his cold reading skills are really great. For the seance one where he was pretending to psychicly cold-read a woman, I actually had to go back and listen to it twice to find out it was actually cold-reading.


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:19 am 
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chimpa wrote:
For what it's worth, I just got my copy of ParaLies from Penguin. I haven't had enough time to read it all yet, but a cursory flick through suggests that a fair amount of the "book test" routines are grounded in psychology and [the intricacies of the English] language rather than tricks and forcing. It's a pricey little book, though, so let me read it properly before you go splashing out on it - I'd hate to have offered a recommendation that turns out to be wrong.


I don't suppose there is a review for it now?


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:04 am 
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Paralies review;
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/view ... &forum=110
First review comment is near the bottom of page two of the thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:26 pm 
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Mentalism is an art.

Artist had licences. One of them is : Lie.

What´s real ?
What´s the difference of real and unreal?



Of course that psychology is in mentalist. All the finesses that comes in a performance are purely for trick the mind and create a solid image ( mindreader).

So.... yeah. Genuine psychology is in mentalism ... or maybe not.


All the things that i said are lies.


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:03 pm 
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Location: Winnipeg
The genuine psychology in mentalism more often comes from the presentation/packaging/framing of the effect rather than the effect method itself. We sculpt perceptions. We distort reality. We create mystery and story and drama. This all takes skills in understanding how people think and how one can manipulate that (for maximum effect).

I seek to eliminate as much uncertainty and risk in method - in favor of directing all of my mental capacity towards interacting with the audience in a real, genuine, spontaneous, and meaningful way.

After all, it matters less WHAT you do when compared to what the audience THINKS you are doing. When they believe, the method (real or whatever) becomes irrelevant (to the audience).


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 Post subject: Re: Is there much genuine psychology in mentalism?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:57 am 
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Location: Your mind
It's not how you do it, it's how you bring it.


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