NEW DELHI: Reading people, predicting behaviour and hacking into the subconscious -- world-renowned mentalist Keith Barry can do it all. Barry delves into the mysteries of the mind, revealing how ordinary people can better harness their own abilities. The 35-year-old mentalist spoke to Meenakshi Sinha about the rigours of studying human minds and the highs he gets from it.
1. As hypnotist, mentalist and magician, how do you delve into the mysteries of the human mind?
Well, it takes a huge amount of study and practice. I've been a magician since I was probably four years old and for the last 15 years, I've been studying psychology and human behaviour patterns. I've learned everything that I do from books and most of my day is spent studying, practicing and rehearsing. I've taught myself everything with hypnosis which I initially practiced on friends and family over dinner parties and later I would just go out on the streets of Ireland and grab people and start hypnotising them and getting them to do whatever it is that I want to do.
2. How, according to you, ordinary people can better harness their own mental abilities?
I think the first thing is that we need to dedicate ourselves to being extraordinary instead of ordinary. My advice to people would be to have a brilliant memory for which, they should study books on memory. Harry Lorayne has got great books on memory and I've studied all of them. They tell you how to have a photographic memory. Also, I use a lot of neuro-linguistic programming, NLP. It teaches you how to implant and extract thoughts like I do. And if still, people have any questions they can always ask me on Twitter or Facebook. I answer pretty much everybody there.
3. Can humans use their own brain power to read other people? If yes, how?
Yes, absolutely we can use our brains to read other people. As I mentioned, NLP is one way. It's a process where one can read people's eye movements and figure out what they're thinking based on how their eyes dilate. You can read their thoughts depending on which way their eyes move. Also, read people's body language and micro-expressions. These are tiny little facial expressions that we make when we're thinking. Once again, there's a great book out there called, What Every Body is Saying. The book delves in 300 different postures and positions and helps teach what a person is thinking. All of this put together make it look like you can read minds whereas really what you're doing is reduction/observation and looking at people, figuring out what they're thinking based on their physical movements.
4. The movie, Inception, dealt with the art of extraction, stealing secrets from within the subconscious during the dream state to planting an idea in that state. Is this what you do?
Yes, absolutely, more as a hypnotist. When we're in dream states, it's actually a hypnotic state where one can manipulate your dreams by somebody like me who can do strange things. For example, in my show I do a whole routine around dreams and their interpretation. I get a guy who thinks he's part of a sleep experiment where I'm going to interpret his dreams. But I lie him down, hypnotise him and program him to become a sleeper agent; someone who unbeknownst to him will go out and murder somebody else as per my instruction. It's something that the CIA in America used to do quite a bit back in the '50s and '60s. So yes, it's very close to Inception and I absolutely believe that when people are dreaming, we can manipulate their thoughts and their actions.
5. Which craft - hypnotist, mentalist and magician - do you enjoy most and why?
That's a good question. I like all of them a lot, but I like being a mentalist the most because that's as real as it gets. As a magician or illusionist, very often what I'm doing is trickery. But being a mentalist entails no tricks. There are no gimmicks. Then, I'm really implanting and extracting thoughts into people and manipulating their behaviour. I'm like a puppeteer and that person becomes my puppet.