Mentalists typically won’t blend the more standard magic effects with any mental based effects. If they were to do that, it would cheapen the mental based effect and make it seem more like the typical stage tricks used by ordinary magicians.
Lots of performers who perform mental magic effects will maintain their story that they’re not at all magicians, but that they in fact can read minds, use hypnosis, employ muscle reading as well as many other pseudo-scientific arts.
When done right, mentalism can indeed look like some real extra sensory power is being used, rather than it simply being an act of magical trickery. Mentalism effects will appear to be anything from advanced mind / brain hacks, hypnosis, suggestion, memorization skills, neuro linguistic programming (NLP for short), psychic ability or many other supernatural techniques.
While tradition stage magicians will generally engage the audience in suspension of disbelief, as the audience generally knows that they posses no real supernatural or magical powers, but are just using some type of clever trickery to accomplish their amazing feats. Most stage magicians will not only explain that they are illusionists, and the audience knowing this, goes along as they don’t know how it done, but they realize that some sort of trick is being used.
In tradition stage magic, the feats that are performed are usually physically impossible, like pushing a blade through an assistant unharmed, making objects / people disappear, reappear and magically appear in different locations. While in mentalism, the effect seem real enough that the supernatural could be possible. A man may be able to read minds, posses psychic ability or have some skill with hypnosis and suggestion.
A great deal of the effects in the acts of most current mentalists can be traced directly back to the charlatans and psychics who were practicing their cons back at the beginning of the last century. Not only are these same tricks and methods in use today, but some of them are simply reworked and updated to be something more modern and supernatural that fits better with the times than the old explanations used by their originators.
There are even historical records of people in ancient times employing some of these same principles in their mental based illusions in ancient times. There are some very clever effects that were performed in many parts of the ancient world which made their creators known far and wide for their extraordinary “supernatural powers”.
Ancient mentalists used some of the very same methods and techniques that their modern day counterparts are still using today. Techniques like misdirection, the one ahead principle, billet switching, simple sleight of hand and many others still produce convincing mental effects to this day.
While mentalism effects may appear to be something supernatural, it’s important that an audience remembers that they are simply clever illusions, no matter how amazing or real they may seem.