Mentalist Profile: Derren Brown

Derren Brown is the best mentalist of his generation.

He is constantly advancing his skills, innovating with his performances and calling out fake psychics and other frauds too.

Seeing Derren Brown perform it can be hard not to believe he possesses psychic abilities.

This guy knows what is going on in your mind, often because he has created the thoughts himself!

Early Career and TV

Brown started out at university as a hypnotist then started learning and performing close up magic in the cafe’s of Bristol.

Developing his skills over the next 7 years in Bristol Brown hit television in 1999 with 3 specials which later became the ground breaking series Mind Control. >>Derren Brown – Inside Your Mind [DVD]

Derren Brown Trick of The Mind 1 [DVD] [2004] followed on from Mind Control and the 3 series were very much a natural progression.

Trick or Treat (2007 – 2008) surprised applicants with Derren appearing out of the blue to give people a trick or treat. He hypnotised one guy and dropped him of in Marrakesh and dropped one girl, tied up, in a sack into a lake!

In The Events (2009) Brown stuck people watching at home to their seats using sublimnal messaging and bet £5,000 of a viewers money on the spin of a roulette wheel, and lost :(

Also on TV we had Derren Brown Investigates (2010) and The Experiments in 2011. In one episode of In The Experiments Derren got someone to ‘assassinate’ Stephen Fry and in another got someone to admit to a murder they didn’t commit.

TV Specials: Russian Roulette, Seance, Messiah, The Gathering, The Heist, The System, Hero at 30,000 ft, Miracles for Sale.

Live Shows

Watch some of Derren’s live shows and see his masterful control of the audience. 2011-12 he is touring Svengali.

Some of his other live shows include: Derren Brown Live (2003-04), Something Wicked This Way Comes (2005-06), Mind Reader – An Evening of Wonders (2007-08), Enigma (2009-10)

Skills

Derren Brown uses “magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship”

He is a master reader of people’s body language, he uses NLP to put thoughts in peoples minds, he uses lots of psychological tricks like perception without awareness and his memory techniques are something to behold!

He is a master of conjuring and hypnosis and teaches some of his tricks in his books.

Derren Brown emphasises the importance of showmanship and involving the audience.

 

 

What Every Body Is Saying, Joe Navarro – Review

What Every Body is Saying is a detailed book on body language by one of the world’s leading experts.

Joe Navarro has dedicated his life to studying body language, a passion which began aged 8 and led him to a 25 year career in the FBI.

A mix of theory, scientific facts and careful observations fill the book with revealing insights.

Chapter 1: Mastering the Secrets of Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication constitutes 65% of all interpersonal communication and if your not already you should start paying attention because our body language tells the truth!

Joe has 10 commandments of body language which include conscious and continuous observation, establishing baselines, looking out for changes, discomfort and not staring at people 😉

Chapter 2: Living Our Limbic Legacy

Think you’re clever – well you should be, you have 3 brains!

Your mammalian ‘limbic’ brain controls your body language and works on a freeze, fight then flight basis.

This survival mechanism evolved millenia ago and is still useful in our survival today. When we are comfortable we demonstrate high confidence and when not comfortable we show low confidence behaviours.

If we are uncomfortable we use pacifying behaviours to stimulate our brains into feeling better. There are differences between men and women but in general these behaviours take the form of  touching our necks, our faces, whistling, yawning, touching our legs and hugging ourselves.

Chapter 3: Getting a Leg Up on Body Language

Forget eye contact and hugs, if you want to know what someone is feeling take a closer look at their legs!

Peoples’ legs give away uncensored information about their inner most thoughts.

Look out for happy feet, which way feet are pointing, the knee clasp and leg splay to gauge what someone is thinking.

If we are comfortable we will cross our legs, and lovers will mirror each others legs. Significant changes in leg movement, foot freeze and the foot lock and leave indicate a lack of comfort.

If you want to know if someone likes you when you meet them when you have shaken their hand see if they stay still or move towards or away from you.

People walk in 40 different ways!

Chapter 4: Torso Tips

People turn towards things they like and away from things they don’t. If we can’t turn away from something we dislike we use our arms as a shield.

When trying to assert dominance people may puff up their chests or splay their torso.

Like the legs, the torso is honest, partly because it contains all our organs!

Chapter 5: Knowledge Within Reach

Arms are used to display dominance for example arms akimbo and the hooding effect, we throw our arms in the air when we are happy and hug people we like. Touching someone’s arm is one of the best ways to instantly gain rapport.

We also put jewellery on our arms to demonstrate wealth.

Chapter 6: Getting a Grip

Our human hands are unique amongst the animals and by using them correctly we can become more persuasive, likeable and credible :)

You can offend people with your hands by pointing, snapping your fingers or flipping the ‘bird’.

Look out for steepling, thumb displays, genital framing, frozen hands, hand wringing, neck touching, microexpressions as all give away our subconscious thouhts.

When shaking hands, don’t try to assert dominance it doesn’t work, giving a good firm handshake is the best bet!

Chapter 7: The Minds’s Canvas

Our facial expressions are a universal language. Humans are capable of more than 10,000 different facial expressions.

Because we can control our facial expressions we can mask emotions but faces are still useful for gauging emotion.

Look out for eye blocking behaviours like squinting and pupil constriction. People do this when they don’t like what they see. Likewise, if what they say is agreeable we see pupil dilation, eyebrow arching and flashbulb eyes.

Contempt is shown by the rolling of the eyes and sneering. The lips, nose, forehead, cheeks all give information away and If the face is sending mixed signals, the negative emotion is more honest.

Interestingly eye contact does not indicate honesty and is often used by psychopaths!

Chapter 8: Detecting Deception

Despite the inherent honesty of our body language, when the body lies, its still hard to tell. Even the most gifted body language readers can only detect deception 60% of the time. Polygraphs are only 60-80% accurate. That’s because lying is a survival tool.

When trying to detect deception make sure you know the base level of body language when comfortable. Look out for blocking using objects, pacifying behaviour, clusters of behaviours, synchrony and emphasis.

Pay attention and get a good view!

Chapter 9: Final Thouhts

We are taught to listen to what people say, see what peoples bodies are telling you and a whole new world of communication will open up!

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A Mind Of It’s Own, Cordelia Fine – Review

What goes on up there?

A pregnant Cordelia Fine went to great lengths to find out.

She bring scientific research to life with personal anecdotes, humour and a passion for psychology. Read on…

Chapter 1: The Vain Brain

The vain brain has a lot to answer for. It makes people think they are more ethical, better employees and better drivers than average and that’s just the start.

We give ourselves all sorts of credit for our successes and let ourselves off the hook for our failures to protect our egos.

If we think we are going to do badly we don’t try to give ourselves an excuse for failure.

We spend time with those who think we are great and have a massively optimistic view of our future health, wealth and happiness.

The vain brain is needed though – those with a more accurate view of reality are often clinically depressed and optimistic people live longer!

Chapter 2: The Emotional Brain

Whether you like it or not your emotions play a big part in the workings of your mind. Take this interesting nugget – your emotions are often aware of things BEFORE you are consciously aware of them.

Happy and sad films alter our perceptions, emotions affect how much pain we feel and emotions even affect what we actually see!

People with damage to the emotional parts of their brains can find it near impossible to make decisions, some feel permanently detached from reality, some even think they are dead :(

Chapter 3: The Immoral Brain

Our judgements which we think are based on logic are often based on gut reactions or moral intuitions. Our need to believe in a just world means that we often believe people have brought misfortune upon themselves.

We hold others up to judgement for things whilst letting ourselves off for the same thing. We are basically illogical and mean people!

We judge ourselves morally superior, and think if our intentions were good that’s the main thing, even if the result is catastrophic failure.

Our morality can easily be altered by circumstances too. In an experiment 2/3 of people administered a highly dangerous voltage to fellow human beings.

Authority was a big factor here and has been shown to play a big part in immorality, as a cursory glance at the history books will confirm.

Chapter 4: The Deluded Brain

150 million Americans believe its possible for someone to be physically possessed by the Devil and 25 million Britons believe its possible to communicate with the dead.

In short many of us are deluded. There is a fine line between regular day to day delusion and being banged up in the funny farm too. People can quite easily be turned temporarily insane.

Our minds are shown to be illogical again – beware asking your loved one ‘don’t you love me any more?’ and if there is no correlation between things your brain will help out by making one up.

Some of the truly deluded think their family has been replaced by aliens or that others are controlling their actions… and then there is religion.

Chapter 5: The Pigheaded Brain

Beliefs are a funny thing. We quickly form beliefs based on the evidence, (even if that evidence is telling us the exact opposite?) and won’t let go of those beliefs, even if they are completely discredited later.

Other people’s beliefs have a huge impact over us too so lets hope mummy really believes her little angel is a genius!

Chapter 6: The Secretive Brain

The unconscious mind, one of my favourite subjects.

The big take-away from this chapter is this:

Areas of the brain are dedicated to specific subjects, they are called schemas. If a schema is activated, it will affect your behaviours. Schemas can be activated through environmental factors without your knowledge. Think about that one for a second.

The unconscious walks us places and drives our cars too – but we knew that already.

Chapter 7: The Weak Willed Brain

Face it – your will is weak. Use it up during the day and spend the evening sprawled in front of the TV watching East Enders.

Our willpower is undermined by a bad mood, rejection and distress.

However, keep working that willpower and it will eventually grow strong.

You need your unconscious mind onside for success. Help it out by writing detailed plans of what you intend to do :)

Chapter 8: The Bigoted Brain

Stereotypes, there must be more to life!

Beware stereotypes. They affect you whether you like it or not. We need to do away with them because people which suffer from negative stereotypes are at a disadvantage – and what’s fair about that?!

It’s those blasted schemas at work again… however all is not lost. Become aware of how blatantly bigoted you are being and do away with it now! (apparently its not that hard).

Epilogue: The Vulnerable Brain

Your brain is with you 24/7 so you better get used to it.

We are at the mercy of our emotions and the environment.

Our brain is constantly doing stuff and not even doing us the courtesy of letting us know.

Fortunatel, if you have read this book you might be able to work yours a bit better :)

Take- Aways:

Our motives are often hidden, even from ourselves.

Beware your schemas (and be aware of other peoples), they are critical in the way we behave and can be easily triggered.

Expectations of yourself and others play no small part in behaviour and performance.

Beliefs – easily formed and hard to shift.

Take control of your brain by writing out a plan!

Rating:

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Dynamo Magician Impossible Review

Disc 1

In part 1 Dynamo visits Miami, Manchester and London. He presents an award at the Prince’s Trust awards, hangs out with Ian Brown and amazes some sexy women.

Some of his tricks on this disc include twisting a glass bottle, stealing someone’s identity and levitating a guitar!

Dynamo performs a number of mind reading tricks in part 1 including an impressive mind read on Ian Brown.

He performs two other mentalism tricks in London. For the first Dynamo gets two people who know each other to name the same country and repeats this with three different pairs and three different countries. He also does a trick where he touches the male partner of a young couple and the girl feels it!

Oh and did I mention the walking on the Thames thing… well he does that too :)

Disc 2

In part 2 Dynamo is back on the streets of Bradford and London, visits the Snowbombing festival in the Alps, and tops things off by amazing the guests at Rios Ferdinand’s party.

He defies gravity again with bank cards and coins, turns snow into diamonds, drives blindfold round a racetrack and makes his exit from Rio’s party by walking through a glass wall.

In London Dynamo exactly guesses the amount of change in someone’s wallet and back in Bradford he performs 3 mind reads, including a contact on someones phone. Hypnosis is surely at play in the walking through glass effect.

Disc 3

Dynamo’s mentalism tricks are undoubtedly the strongest effect in this episode. I am talking about mind reading 5 guys playing dominos at a park in Miami and mind reading 2 songs from a local DJ.

The effects he does around the pool table are also very impressive.

The tricks with the biggest ‘wow’ factor are effects at a roof party where Dynamo seemingly teleports and another where he blows letters from a cinema billboard.

He also does a cool trick where he seaparates the ice, water and teabag from an iced tea and burns a $20 then makes it reappear inside a lightbulb.

Disc 4

Dynamo performs some really cool mentalism tricks in this episode. He mind reads a number between 1-1000 from Nick Hogan and a random place from a girl in the street and Natalie Imbruglia. He draws the same as a street artist back to back too.

Dynamo stretches himself physically in this episode, stopping his heart for 10 seconds and bench pressing 3 x his own bodyweight in the gym.

There is also seemingly a miracle when Dynamo brings a wall full of ornamental butterflies to life and an amazing prediction live on Radio 1.

Bonus Disc

Behind the scenes and extra footage.

Interestingly Dynamo says he is not a mind reader though does use some techniques to create that illusion.

Rating:

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Dynamo’s Concrete Playground Review

Dynamo’s Concrete Playground is the magicians first DVD release and its a cracker!

Starting off in Dynamo’s home town of Bradford, Dynamo performs tricks for the locals before taking to the road with his 2 best mates, dazzling the people of Birmingham and London with his modern style of magic.

Tricks include levitation of a £50 note, smashing bottles with his mind and Dynamo’s signature polo through the neck trick.

Dynamo’s slight of hand is impressive with him being able to place coins under peoples’ watches without them noticing and seemingly dropping coins through solid glass tabletops.

He is masterful with the cards, making the deck disappear, putting cigarettes through cards, and making cards appear out of his top pocket…. when he has no top pocket!

Mentalism Tricks

It has to be said there is not a great deal in the way of mentalism tricks in the DVD however the mind reading in a shop/ gallery in London gets one of the best reactions on the whole DVD.

As a modern magic DVD I would give Dynamo’S Concrete Playground (Dvd) [2006] 5* every time.

Rating:

Mentalist Profile: Dynamo

Dynamo AKA Stephen Frayne is a magician and mentalist from Bradford in the UK. Born in 1982, Dynamo grew up on the deprived Delph Hill estate in Bradford.

Dynamo says:

‘It helps to have a skill growing up around here (in Delph Hill), for some its breaking and entering, for me it’s magic’.

Starting Out

Dynamo began learning magic at the age of 11 to get school bullies off his back and started devoting more time to magic when he moved in with his grandparents at the age of 15.

His grandpa Kenneth used to perform magic in bars around Bradford and showed Dynamo some magic. Dynamo would spend night and day practising and reading every magic book he could lay his hands on.

Starting out he couldn’t even shuffle a pack of cards. If you see his skills now that’s hard to believe!

Early Career

Fastforward to 2004 and Dynamo was loaned some money by UK Charity the Prince’s Trust to buy a video camera. He moved to London and began shooting videos.

This was right around the time Youtube was starting to get popular and soon Dynamo’s street magic videos were getting 100,000s of views; millions of people around the world were watching him amaze people in the capital.

Dynamo’s increasing popularity gave him the opportunity to perform on the celebrity circuit, performing for such celebs as Coldplay and Paris Hilton.

Magician to the Stars

Now Dynamo bills himself as magician to the stars, performing at red carpet and other celebrity events around the world. He says playing to celebs like Pharell Williams, Paris Hilton and De La Soul is a dream come true.

Dynamo has also made numerous TV appearances. His first TV appearance was on Richard & Judy and he has since appeared numerous times including charity events, adverts and panel shows.

He has released 2 DVDs, based on his TV shows Dynamo’S Concrete Playground (Dvd) [2006] and Dynamo: Magician Impossible [DVD].

Style

Dynamo brings elements of bodypopping, breakdancing and MCing to his magic to give a modern urban style.

He performs up close magic and mentalism as well as larger pieces like the ‘walking on the Thames’ trick seen in Dynamo: Magician Impossible [DVD].

He still loves the energy of performing magic on the streets and the power it has to bring different people together and says that is the greatest buzz.

Dynamo incorporates mentalism into his performance using mindreading and hypnosis for some of his effects.

Interesting Facts

The stage name Dynamo was adopted after a magic convention at the New York Hilton in 2002. He was performing to a group of magicians when a member of the audience shouted out ‘That kid’s a Dynamo!’

Dynamo was diagnosed with Crones disease when he was a kid and was hospitalised several times with it.

Dynamo’s favourite place is Miami.

Quotes

‘Sometimes I wonder if my life has all been an illusion but if there’s one thing I’ve learned its that reality is only what you make it’

‘Everybody has the power to be extraordinary, no matter where they come from or what their circumstance, its just a matter of belief’

‘Some people think its impossible to change the future but in reality the future is only what you make it’

 

 

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