The real-life Mentalist

00:39, Aug 07 2014

Think of a wild animal, a colour and a number.

If your answers were lion, red and seven then, according to mentalist Timon Krause, you are in the majority and pretty easy to read.

It's one of many techniques he uses to read minds, these simple questions can show what kind of person someone is and predict their response to future questions.

"You're a different kind of thinker," he tells me when I say elephant, maroon and eight.

Little does he know (or does he?) that earlier our videographer had tested me, telling me not to say seven because that's the number everyone would say.

We also settled on the less-known colour of maroon if I was asked to think of a hue (sorry Timon).


But the 20-year-old Dutch Champion of Mentalism had us stumped when he correctly guessed my four digit number (8140), my little sister's name (Amy), and, even more spectacularly, was able to melt my 20 cent coin - on camera.

So how does he do it?

Krause reads minds and hypnotises people on stage, not just for entertainment but also for coaching purposes. He's been doing it since he was impressed by a hypnosis show at 12-years-old.

"Because I was so young, no one would teach me so I just taught myself and copied what was on stage.

"Ever since, it's just been trial and error - developing my own techniques and attitude to hypnosis."

Throw out your images of those evil villains using mind-control powers that run rampant through comic books.

Instead, mind reading and hypnosis is more like Patrick Jane in USA television series The Mentalist.

Experts in human psyche, mentalists deeply study subliminal messaging, body language reading and are masters in the art of suggestion.

Jane uses it to catch criminals; Krause uses it to travel the world. The Amsterdam-born mentalist has already written a book (at 16-years-old) and is quickly gaining international recognition as someone to watch.

Back in the 1920s mentalists were seen as some cloak-draped circus-act, waving crystals and incense. Now the friendly modern-day mind reader is a lot more relatable - this one is even willing to share some of his secrets.

"A technique I frequently use is ideo-motor movement, movement that is subconsciously activated by the mind without you actually doing it.

"It means you might give yourself away and give your thinking away by body language."

By being aware of another person's subconscious physical responses, Krause can discover their thoughts.

He makes sure our fingertips touch - not in a bid to look like some eerie Divinity professor from Hogwarts but because through the slightest twitch I can, apparently, communicate what's going on in my head.

Put simply, this type of mind reading is about following the direction of least resistance in a person's finger movements. Despite knowing this as Krause rattles away numbers to guess my four-digit pin my fingers still manage to do the talking and he gets it right first time.

It's along the childish lines of "don't think of a blue elephant" (you probably just did).

When Krause asks me not to think of the first digit of my number (8) the request triggered a physical response.

"And then when I ask people not to think of the second number, they usually think of the third one and give that away."

In hypnosis Krause uses techniques that include confusion and "pattern interrupt" where a conscious pattern is shaken to confuse the subject.

"Other techniques include relaxation and different techniques from a communication model called NLP [Neuro-linguistic Programming] just to build a good connection with people.

"It's mainly about the connection, the relationship that you build up with other people quickly."

He's had his fair share of cynics but Krause says most people who are sceptical have the wrong idea about mindreading and hypnotism.

"[They think] that hypnosis is a sort of power that you impose on someone, which you force onto someone - that's not hypnosis.

 "When I read minds it depends on the context that we're in. In a show I usually try to not read dirty secrets of people and I focus on pin numbers, names of relatives and things they might have done. I focus on influencing them to read certain things.

 "Certain people can read dirty secrets and some people don't do a very good job of hiding them anyway, so it just depends on the person that you're with and the connection you can make with them really.

As for that 20 cent coin, Krause wasn't willing to give away that secret but some internet sleuthing does come up with possible answers - to put them here would be ruining the fun though.

Mentalism is a different type of illusionary entertainment. It teaches genuine interpersonal techniques that advertising executives would kill for but there are some downsides.

"Some people won't even shake my hand," says Krause.

"They think I'll hypnotise them."


What: Tranceformatoriumem

Where: The Basement Theatre, Auckland

When: 9 August, 9.30pm

Tickets: $20-25,