Mentalism – Psychic mysticism or magician’s art form

What brought me back to the art of conjurers, as a mentalist and magician from Christchurch, was watching Derren Brown’s amazing performances on his TV shows.

Spiritists, psychics, and magicians have existed for centuries in many cultures and time periods. It is difficult, if possible, to separate them by definition.

Even today psychics and their associated types, clairvoyants, spiritualists, palm reading astrologers, etc., present themselves as psychic entertainers.

However, what is common to all members of this group are their methods, all of which are interchangeable, and all of which use tactics that have been drawn from, or researched, disproved, and ultimately adopted by members of the conjurers, often , more commonly known as wizards.

In recent times these methods have also been studied by neuroscientists, in order to understand how they work, and have the effects they do, in apparently rational people.

This has led to greater understanding and, in many cases, refinements and development of new techniques by magicians to perform seemingly impossible feats of power.

There are those magicians who embrace and claim that their powers are the result of some psychic connection, however, there is another group that makes it very clear that their abilities are the result of skill and an understanding of how to deceive the mind because of the way evolution has shaped it; the neuroscientific approach.

Both groups use the same or similar methodologies, however, the latter group prefers to be honest and claim that it does not use the phenomena of the spiritual realm.

There is also another group, within this group, that claims no connection to the psychic realm, but claims a strong use of psychological and neuroscientific principles.

However, they do use misdirection techniques, special utilities, and other methods of the conjurer’s art to pull off their surprise feats.

Removing the apparent mystique from these feats diminishes the value of the experience.

In my opinion, and that of countless people who have followed artists like Derren Brown and Canadian wizard Spidey, the answer is no.

I myself feel much more comfortable with the neuroscientific approach as an explanation (using conjurer methods) to introduce effects that entertain and give viewers a memorable experience.

The claimants of the spirit world are openly and, although they may claim otherwise, knowingly lie to their audience, while the magician admits this deception from the start.

In my experience as a Christchurch magician I have found that this admission makes no difference to the entertainment value of the performance.