What is Mentalism?
Performers have debated this question for decades. If you ever want to see how nerdy magicians and mentalists really are, just ask this question. So, where do we begin? According to Wikipedia:
“Mentalist is a performing art in which its practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Performances may appear to include hypnosis, telepathy, clairvoyance, divination, precognition, psychokinesis, mediumship, mind control, memory feats, deduction, and rapid mathematics.”
This is quite a comprehensive definition, however what does it really mean?
Some other mentalists might disagree with me but to me mentalism is a sub category of magic which revolves around the mind. When people think of a magician, there can be a stereotypical image that comes to mind, whether it be a top hat with a rabbit, David Copperfield or David Blaine. However, like music has pop, rap, rock, heavy metal, country etc, magic has many categories as well. In the magic world David Copperfield is known as an illusionist, David Blaine is a street magician and an example of a mentalist would be Derren Brown.
Where a magician would perform a trick where they make a coin vanish using magic, a mentalist would make you believe that the coin has not vanished, but that you have been psychologically influenced or hypnotised to believe that you can not see it. Mentalists will use traditional magic techniques to accomplish their goals but will also use genuine psychological techniques and body language reading.
When mentalism is performed correctly, the performer will appear to be psychic as they are using the same/similar techniques. The difference being a mentalist is honest about not having supernatural abilities.