Mentalists definition and how it works
Defining mentalists is quite difficult. This is because their skills are quite broad. But performing mentalism is widely recognised as a form or magic. But with particular reference to mind trickery and control.
Mentalists definition is: "Mentalists are special magic performers with extraordinary mental powers. With an understanding of psychology. They have highly developed mental and intuitive abilities. Plus they can perform extraordinary tricks that rely on mental powers. They appear to be able to read minds or to have psychic powers."
Before writing this article, I looked around at the various mentalist definitions. Each definition of a mentalist seems to have a common theme, but they are all slightly different.
In the end I decided to bring together a few definitions of a mentalist and then collate them in to one single definition. Of course as your mentalism skills develop and you begin to master mentalism, you'll start to focus on your own specialism in the skill.
Mentalists definition #1
The definition according to the Oxford Dictionary is "A magician who performs feats that apparently demonstrate extraordinary mental powers, such as mind-reading."
Mentalists definition #2
However, according to the Urban Dictionary a mentalist is defined as "Originally a mentalist was an adherent or advocate of a mentalistic school of psychology or psychiatry. Someone who believes that some mental phenomena cannot be explained by physical laws (i.e. telepathy and mind reading)."
Mentalists definition #3
And then in the dictionary.com they define a mentalist as "1. A person who believes in or advocates mentalism; 2. A person who believes that the mind and its functions are a legitimate area of psychological research; 3. A mind reader, psychic, or fortuneteller."
Mentalists definition #4
Then looking at the definition according to Wikipedia "Theatrical poster for a mind-reading performance, Mentalism is a performing art in which its practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities."
Mentalists definition #5
Your Dictionary defines it like this "The definition of a mentalist is a mind reader or magic person who can perform extraordinary tricks that rely on mental powers."
Collated definition of a mentalist
By combining the above five mentalist definitions, you come up with something that looks like this:
Mentalist definition according to thementalismcourse.com "Mentalists are special magic performers with extraordinary mental powers. With an understanding of psychology. They have highly developed mental and intuitive abilities. Plus they can perform extraordinary tricks that rely on mental powers. They appear to be able to read minds or to have psychic powers."
In doing my research on the mentalists definition, I also looked a mentalist synonyms too. Where a synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language. For example, shut is a synonym of close.
It's makes me smile when I look at the mentalist synonyms. These include clairvoyant, diviner, fortune-teller, psychic and mental telepathist.
The reason I smile is that mentalists on the whole (as there are always exceptions to any rule) are very much open about the mental tricks they are performing. Mentalists don't claim to have special powers, except for the likes of Uri Geller. But instead audiences know they are being tricked in some way, but are left not knowing exactly how the mentalist did what they did.
However, some of the synonyms on Thesaurus.com of the likes of psychics, clairvoyants, mediums and palm readers, all claim to have special powers. But actually the powers they claim to have are not valid. If a psychic or medium was told they were a mentalist performing tricks, they'd get upset. More likely they'd get upset because of being found out to be frauds.
The techniques used by mentalists to give the appearance of mind reading and psychic abilities (note the word 'appearance'), are the same as those used by psychics and mediums.
How does a mentalist work?
There are essential two ways a mentalist works, the first is to read people and the second is to 'control' people.
Reading peoples minds
Reading people is partly about understanding body language. It's about understanding nonverbal language. This is where the highly developed intuitive abilities of a mentalist come in.
We all read other people's body language, but we are not always totally in-tune with what it tells us. Mentalists tend to have an innate ability to read people better than the average person. But this is a skill that can be learnt and developed too. To learn this skill you need to read mentalism books on the subject and to take mentalism courses too.
The power of observation
Mentalists are very observant. The skill of reading people relies on a mentalist to make assessments of a people. Their age, their sex, their ethnic origin and the way they are dressed. This is how a psychic works too. As psychics in the same way use the information about a person to help them to guess details about that person.
There's a bit more to it than this, but essentially, mentalists and psychics pay more attention to people. By doing so and combining the information they receive, they appear to have psychic powers or to be able to read minds. This of course is not true.
The other element that comes into play with this technique relies on people that buy-in to the concept. When psychic reading is being performed, often what happens is the psychic or mentalist will throw out vagaries to an audience. An audience member will pick up on the statement and then the reading is taken from there.
Cold reading and Barnam statements
There is another concept at play with mind reading, which is the cold reading technique and the use of Barnam or Forer statements. These statements are very general and apply to the majority of people. However, the way in which they are delivered and because of the 'spotlight effect,' they are extremely effective at convincing people you know more about them than you actually do.
The spotlight effect is where people tend to believe they are being noticed. People assign what's being said by the mentalist (or psychic), directly to themselves. Even though the statement could apply to almost anyone in the same room.
Controlling people's minds
Mentalists control people through the use of either hypnosis or NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming).
How this works is the mentalist will use psychological skills to play with the mind. For example, in the video below, Derren Brown uses NLP to change what Simon Pegg wanted as a present. How this works is the mentalist uses embedded commands or suggestions.
This NLP technique is extremely powerful and is used by many mentalists.
In addition to the NLP suggestion technique, mentalists also utilise hypnosis in their routines too. But we are crossing over into stage hypnotist acts with this technique.
I hope you enjoyed this article about mentalists definition…
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your journey to become a performing mentalist or magician (or both). Please comment below. Please also share your experiences, both good and bad.!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about mentalism or magic, I will try to answer them (or specifically about mentalists definition), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about mentalism for you to read and learn about this fantastic skill.
Have fun and enjoy your journey to become mentalist!