Blog Post

What is a Mentalist?

LB writes:  "I recently saw this [show about Gerard Senehi] on Fox news - .  What are your thoughts on this group…  sorcery ? new age ?  what demon are we dealing with here?"

For those who are not familiar with the term, a mentalist is defined as being a mind-reader, psychic or fortune teller.

The mentalist in question is Gerard Senehi who bills himself as both a mentalist and a "psychic entertainer". One of his trademarks is that he likes to keep his audience wondering about whether or not his powers are for real or just an illusion. He bends spoons, guesses hidden numbers, leaves cigarettes suspended in midair and otherwise leaves his audiences gaping.

He likes to say, "My job is to make people ask questions, not to answer them."

Although he keeps his background fairly hidden, there is enough out there to get a reasonable idea of where he's coming from.

According to New York Magazine, Senehi is the son of two Iranian immigrants who was born in Paris in 1959. His father died when he was a year old and he was sent to Switzerland to live with a governess in the same town where his sister was attending boarding school. When he was four years old, he was enrolled in the same school and remained there until his adolescence. He came to the U.S. at the age of 12.

"Senehi believes in psychic phenomena. In fact, he’s been obsessed with the supernatural ever since he was 10, when his friends were drawing cards from a deck and he was able to predict four in a row," NY Mag writes. "Senehi readily admits that this experience—and all psychic experiences he’s had since—can be chalked up to coincidence. 'But if you put your attention there, you’re more likely to experience it,' he says. 'That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s real, but if I had to take a position, I’d say it is'."

He admits that he was always fascinated by things he couldn't understand. After graduating college, he worked as a social worker and a middle-school science teacher and eventually launched a graphic design business. It was 1997, about the same time that he took a trip to Israel and stumbled upon the same mentalist groups that produced Uri Geller, the famous illusionist and self-proclaimed psychic.

Senehi eventually went the same way and ended up performing stage tricks similar to those seen on the Fox News Sunday show in the link above.

He is also involved with the Evolutionary Enlightenment Fellowship, an organization that was founded by Andrew Cohen, a former professional musician turned New Age guru. After spending time with the Hindu master H. W. L. Poonja in 1986, Cohen developed a spiritual philosophy called "Evolutionary Enlightenment" which essentially asserts that attaining a liberated state of consciousness is the pinnacle of human achievement along with the realization that the world is an illusion.

" Like many New Age gurus, his writings are an accessible, warmed-over blend of Eastern religions, much in the spirit of Alan Watts. He claims to have a total of 800 followers worldwide," NY Mag writes, and says some organizations regard Cohen's tiny cadre as a cult. Senehi's own organization, the Open Future Institute, which is dedicated to the "evolution of culture" echoes Cohen's New Age ideas.

"At Open Future Institute, we believe that cultural values, worldviews, and ways of defining meaning are at the heart of the human journey, and that evolving these “invisible” systems is the key to solving many of the all-too-visible problems that confront our world," the website states.

"Through education, activism, and media, informed by leading-edge theory and research, we seek to empower and inspire change-makers of today and tomorrow. Our programs and partnerships focus on optimizing the power of human agency, uncovering the greatest leverage points for culture-change, and building the capacities we will need to create a positive future."

In this article, Senehi teaches people how to tap into their psychic abilities, such as learning how to "enter a state of relaxed attention where you are not paying attention to anything specific and just letting a thought or image pop into your mind . . ."

Regardless of what Senehi does or does not admit on stage, he is an unrepentant dabbler in the supernatural, which can include a variety of occult arts from magic and  divination to necromancy and channeling.

The danger in Senehi is that people can become enchanted with his abilities and will be tempted to want them for themselves or to use them in ways that are strictly forbidden.  (See No. 2117 in the Catechism.) It is also impossible to know what else he's dabbling in.

I would stay clear of him, no matter how flashy the show.