Mentalism 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. Mentalists are sometimes categorized as psychic entertainers, although that category also contains non-mentalist performers such as psychic readers and bizarrists.
Mentalist or magician
Mentalists generally do not mix “standard” magic tricks with their mental feats. Doing so associates mentalism too closely with the theatrical trickery employed by stage magicians. Many mentalists claim not to be magicians at all, arguing that it is a different art form altogether. The argument is that mentalism invokes belief and when presented properly, is offered as being “real”—be it a claim of psychic ability, or proof that supports other claims such as a photographic memory, being a “human calculator”, the power of suggestion, NLP, or other skills. Mentalism plays on the senses and a spectator’s perception of tricks.
Magicians ask the audience to suspend their disbelief and allow their imagination to play with the various tricks they present. They admit that they are tricksters and entertainers, and know the audience understands it’s an illusion and the magician cannot really achieve the impossible feats shown, such as sawing a person in half and putting them back together without injury.
However, many magicians mix mentally-themed performance with magic illusions. For example, a mind-reading stunt might also involve the magical transposition of two different objects. Such hybrid feats of magic are often called mental magic by performers. Magicians who routinely mix magic with mental magic include David Copperfield, David Blaine, The Amazing Kreskin, and Dynamo. Notable mentalists who mix magic with mentalism include The Amazing Kreskin, Richard Osterlind, David Berglas, Derren Brown, and Joseph Dunninger.