What is Mentalism

Mentalism is the art of mind reading and defying science. The goal of every Mentalist is to appear as if they are magic. If at the end of their act they have you questioning reality, they did their job. There are a few types, but the most popular ones are hypnosis, telepathy, and clairvoyance. There are also other categories like divination and precognition you might not be familiar with. This art can defy all logic and dates back centuries. You might remember studying the Ancient Greeks and learning about Oracles and Seers that could predict the future. Today they are known by several names, including, Mentalists, Clairvoyants, and Psychics. Mentalists are not to be confused with Witches and Wizards. The type of “magic” that is associated with Wizardry is all based on illusion. These tricks confuse your eyes and play on the fact that certain things shouldn’t happen. Mentalism is an art where people are trained to use basic observational skills and transform them into superhuman abilities.

Learn Mentalism Tricks

Believe it or not, there are no such thing as psychics or clairvoyants, shocker. The better term for these type of people are mentalists.  Some of your favorite mentalism tricks are used by famous magicians like David Blaine and Chris Angel, the “Mind” Freak. These types of performers differ from magicians because their goal isn’t to trick their audience. Most mentalists won’t even include magic in their routines for this specific reason.

A great example of this was on Britain’s Got Talent. A young man known as Colin McLeod is a self proclaimed Mentalist who is able to read minds and attempts to influence the judges. His act involves the hosts, judges, and makes no attempt to demonstrate magic. His mentalist tricks leave the audience and judges confused.

Mentalism is popularized today on television. You might be familiar with the television shows Psych and The Mentalist. Both shows feature a character who has unbelievable observational skills, remarkable photographic memory, and somewhat unrealistic hyper sensitive vision. All these things combined make them successful criminologists and enable them to solve cases for their police departments. The characters Shawn Spencer and Patrick Jane are both raised by their parents at a young age to take in the world around them. Shawn is raised by a police officer who forces him to do things like recite the number of hats in a room. Patrick is raised by a Mentalist as well who teaches him this art. These types of shows make you want to acquire hyper sensitive observational skills.

Learn How to Read Minds

The illusion of telepathy is an act used for minding reading. As we know telepathy is the transfer of information from one person’s mind to another. Let’s be honest this feat is impossible, thus making it an illusion. One of the main tools in any mentalist’s arsenal is their innate ability to be able to influence people and to pass judgement. Remember when your parent’s told you never to judge a book by it’s cover? Now is the time to start doing just that. A mentalist is just as it implies, in your head. Let’s face it, nobody knows how to read minds through telepathy. If you have ever had the chance to experience a Mentalist then you will know that nearly 90% of the show is performance based. After learning how mentalism tricks work you may even find them boring. There are tons of amazing tricks that you may think are complicated that end up being very easy. You will know when a mentalist is trying to influence you when he asks for input from the audience. He is trying to make the show feel real by selecting someone when all he is doing is choosing someone susceptible to his tricks.

Being a mentalist you need to be confident. Like I said, 90% of the show is performance based. A mentalist needs to be able to put on a show and make quick judgements based on reads. When I say reads, I mean what you see Shawn, Patrick, and Sherlock Holmes do. They use their superhuman power of observation. A mentalist might look at a potential person and analyze their body language and make a snap assumption. For example, their posture, clothes, hair, and shoes. These characteristics tell a lot about a person.  You might even have a tan line on your finger where a ring might have been; leading the Mentalist to assume you are divorced. Another great example of reading people is demonstrated in the Television series, Lie to me. I know I’m mentioning a lot of TV shows but it is the best way for me to demonstrate how a mentalist works and the ways in which they look at things. In the show Lie to me, the main character Cal operates a firm that reads faces and micro-expressions. Believe it or not facial expressions are actually universal. The languages we speak and the words we use to describe things may be different, but the facial expressions are the same. Truthfully think about that, when you are sad, scared, exhausted, nervous, or mad. There are hundreds of micro-expressions and a Mentalist can use these to see how certain cues affect you.

how to read micro-expressions

How to Read Micro-Expressions

Use a mirror and yourself to test how these things actually work. Think of micro-expressions like sadness and nervousness and look at how your body language changes. For example let’s look at the following things.

  • Pupils dilate with positive memories and constrict with negative ones
  • Nervousness results in elevated heart rate and sweating.

All micro-expressions can be read and can be used for your advantage when practicing Mentalism. That is why I referred to this as an art. There is a lot that goes into becoming a Mentalist and picking up on micro-expressions is one of them.

Mentalists all have a few things in common. They practice the same types of things because this is essentially basic psychology. You need to be confident when practicing your craft. Think about how Presidents and Governers get elected. If you are younger, think about how your High School class President got elected. A lot of what you say in life is how you say it. If you are giving a cue or are trying to state something like it’s fact, you need to believe it is. If you believe it then they will. You need to listen with your eyes open. Listening is more than just what someone says, granted what they say is also important. Listening with your eyes is about looking for those micro-expressions we talked about and seeing how a person reacts to various cues. With these cues you will start to gather tells about a person.

When I first got started trying to become a mentalist I was watching Lie to me. I love this show because it goes over verbal cues and micro-expressions. They don’t really go over cold reads but they demonstrate in slow-motion how micro-expressions are able to be read in the eyes of a trained mentalist. After watching Lie to me I watched Psych and liked how they showed the main character solving crimes with his gift. You get an idea of the hyper visibility as he approaches a crime scene and instantly detects problems. Patrick provides more a deeper intellect. While these are just shows they are all practical in their application. There are people who make a living off this and do it well. Becoming a Mentalist takes time but with the right training you can achieve it easily.