Mentalism: What It Is and How to Use It


Even though most people call it “magic”, the correct term is illusionism, a very broad term, with the main focus being on tricking the human brain into thinking you have some kind of special power.

If you picture illusionism as a tree, you’ll quickly notice one of its most prominent branches – Mentalism. Instead of visual tricks and sleights of hand, this one works with the mind and imagination and can influence thoughts and actions. If you study it well straight from the source and master its pillars, there is no limit to what you can do.

History of Mentalism

The term “mentalism”, how we know it today, came to the common ear in 1902, with A. Victor Segno’s “The Law of Mentalism” – a beautifully well-written report on the power of our mental faculties and the capabilities of influencing other people, be it through hypnotism, telepathy, among others. But the overall idea of mentalism dates as far back as 1572, with recorded performances of Girolamo Scotto, a well-known magician which, in his act, between regular illusionism, would read the audience’s minds.

What is Mentalism?

A mentalist uses all of his 5 senses in such a meticulous and efficient way that he creates the idea, to us, of a sixth one. The interesting part is that it’s an art that we all do, at a much lower level, in our daily lives – collecting every kind of information, processing it, and making predictions about the outcome. Orson Welles had a very interesting way of explaining it. In the old days, hotel staff, in order to accommodate their guests in a perfectly priced room, would take a quick peek at their shoes or try to predict the value of their luggage. But an experienced one wouldn’t need to consciously do it, as the habit created would allow him to do it in an efficient way.

Of course, at a higher level, mentalists can do much more than that. Actually, there are a few that can do it so efficiently with a guessing rate so high that it makes us doubt ourselves and the laws of physics. Their performances may appear to include clairvoyance, mediumship, mind control, deductions, hypnosis, telepathy, rapid mathematics, and others.

How Can it Help You?

Like any other art, this one can take years to master, but can also bring you various benefits if you lose some time in learning it.

Who Doesn’t Love Party Tricks?

Imagine your friend going for those banal party tricks at a large crowd and you putting your arm in his chest and saying “I can top that”. Even though the training is necessary, there are numerous mentalism tricks that you can effortlessly learn that will amaze everyone. If you live in the U.K. try this one: Place a piece of paper on your pocket with the word carrot written on it. Then ask someone to count, out loud, backward, from 100. After 10 seconds ask him to name a vegetable, quickly. Since most English children were raised on a carrot diet and since his mind is preoccupied with another task, “carrot” will most likely be his answer.

Be a Better Date

As we’ve mentioned before, there is a lot of information, invisible to the untrained eye, that can give you a large amount of data about someone. Everyone remembers Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes talking about someone’s life just by the way they walk or dress.

This way, the simple walk between the entrance and the table can give you a lot about your date, leaving in your hands a way to efficiently use that information to wow her/him.

Social Mastery

When you reach a point where you’re able to read micro-expressions and body language so efficiently that you can guess what’s in the other person’s mind, without them even consciously thinking about it, social situations will lose their inherent difficulty. Be it pupils’ dilation, a nervous tick, or a rapid glance, we talk even more with our body than with our voice, and mentalism can help you decipher those signs and use them to your advantage.


As we hope this article has shown you, mentalism can be a fantastic tool to use daily – whether it is to entertain or to get an advantage in your personal or professional life through conversations and influence. Thank you for reading and we’ll see you on the next one!

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