Thursday, November 1, 2007

What if Derren Brown's Psychology Is Just Part of the Trick?

In response to my October 20 entry about Derren Brown's alleged use of NLP Anchoring techniques, "Stanton Carlisle" commented that:

Derren doesn't like or use NLP. You may think he uses it, he may imply he uses it however, he doesn't.

SC's comment got me thinking. In his book, Tricks of the Mind, Brown criticizes the cult-like behavior of NLP devotees and expresses a good deal of hostility toward NLP itself. At the same time, though, he directs the reader to try a couple of NLP exercises which he recommends.

DB's attitude toward NLP is, at best, ambivalent. So it's hard to believe that NLP is the secret weapon in his act.

What if he intentionally implies that he uses NLP and other psychological techniques, but is in fact doing ordinary magic tricks? i.e., what if the psychological talk is just part of the act? I am not the first person to consider that possibility.

Ultimately, I think that conclusion is a little too conspiracy-theory. In one of my favorite segments (from the British Trick or Treat series), DB teaches an elderly woman to play poker by reading body language, and she comes in second place in a professional poker game (without DB being present). That seems clearly to be about psychology, not trickery.

In some cases, though, I think it is likely that Derren Brown is performing ordinary magic tricks in the guise of psychological illusions (e.g., in his card tricks).

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