Real-Life Mentalist, Phoenix on the truth behind the hit TV show.
Are mentalists real? Do they really have such abilities? And Can they solve crimes? And how accurate is the portrayal of a mentalist, by actor Simon Baker?
Well, the answer is both yes & no really..
Firstly, mentalists are real. If they are not, then I am not sure who or what I am, and if I am not real, then is anything real?
Dictionary.com defines 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 fortune-teller
Well dictionary.com, you too, are both correct, and incorrect.
When I first heard that a new TV show was about air, and it was called “The Mentalist“, I feared to see the mess that Hollywood would make of our craft, and skill sets, and what they would turn our image into.
After seeing the identity of stage hypnotists butchered over the years, as well as other artists it was a moment of dread until I learnt that I knew some of the initial consultants for the series. This intrigued me enough to open my mind once more & live in hope that the writers would listen to the consultants (mentalists) & portray us for what we really do.
After the first episode, I must admit, I was both impressed & relieved. They had given quite an acurate portrayal of several mentalists I know. Not all of course, in any field you get a bag of all sorts, and ours is not immune to this, but overall, the characters skill sets were virtually right on how we are.
I had actually just spent two years enduring friends laughing at the similarities in skill and demonstrations or revelations of body language meanings from another series that was airing at the time, called “Lie to me“. A show based on the studies & skills of renowned body language reader, Paul Ekman.
Little did I realize, I was about to endure this “guilty by association” mentality all over again. Fortunately for me however, “The Mentalist”, or “Patrick Jane” (Simon Baker) plays a very likable character, and most pleasingly, he actually plays a better mentalist than many real-life mentalists I know.
The writers managed to capture certain elements of what it really is like as a mentalist. The observations, the memory mansion techniques, hypnosis and body language reading, and in particular, the “Mentalist Vs Psychic” mentality, of which I will touch on a little later.
The hypnosis isn’t quite as we do it, but it works for TV. There have been references in the TV show, and even a joke that only real mentalists would get at one point, which was very impressive.
But back to the questions-
Are we real?
Do we really have those abilities?
Yes, mostly, although some may be portrayed ever so slightly different, yes, we do. These are all abilities anyone can have, as they are trained skills.
Can we solve crimes?
This is a very interesting question. In the past, “psychic detectives” have been used and have made discoveries and solved crimes of which the police couldn’t. Were they in fact using these skills, or were they genuinely psychic?
This is where the TV show really gets good. As previously mentioned, it captures the “Mentalist vs Psychic” mentality. It is also where the earlier dictionary meaning was both correct and incorrect, as well as the TV show.
In the TV show, Patrick Jane is the mentalist, however it is revealed often that he used to work as a “Psychic”. Perhaps this is where Dictionary.com got the idea that a mentalist IS a psychic, as they are not, they are two different types of identities.
An explanation of the difference between Psychics & Mentalists (as I may blog about shortly),from a mentalists point of view would be similar to mine:
“A mentalist & a psychic have the same skill sets, and often the same training, except we are more honest about what we do.”
Meaning that psychics are using these tricks and skills to pretend to be psychic, whilst we are more driven by the scientific, psychological side of it. The honest dishonesty, if you will.
There are, however, mentalists, some of which are good friends of mine, who whilst they do practice the psychological side of mentalist, do also study & practice with “psychics”.
The character of Patrick Jane’s character tends to share a very similar outlook on psychics to what I do. I never pretended to BE psychic, however I use these skills to present them differently, as I find it presents as more entertaining to my audiences when they see just how much can be read about them.
As for if psychics are all fake? That cannot answer as I have not met all psychics. I can say that of the many I have met, I have been able to do everything I have seen them do, and often more. I recognise many of the techniques, & can present a replicated result. To this point, I have never met anyone I truly believe to be psychic, but I would love for that to change.
The odd part though it that technically, The “old Patrick Jane” was a “psychic” (as he would have deemed himself), yet upon certain incidents occuring, became a “mentalist”. A mentalist is really on the name given to those who use these skills as a performance art.
As he is not performing, he would have merely been a criminal consultant- but I suppose that’s no name for a hit TV show. 🙂
I think CBS did a great job with the show, the consultants, colleagues of mine, also did a great job, and hats off to Simon Baker who plays the character so very well.