I have been thinking very hard lately about a new way to define 'mentalist.'
Most performers fall into one of two camps: either they are portraying themselves as truly psychic OR they say they are masters of NLP/Body Language/Got Bitten By A Radioactive Spider etc.
A new idea hit me about two months ago, and I have been playing with it as I work on my new book. I can't speak for others -- and wouldn't presume to -- but, personally I am not a psychic -- nor have I had any miraculous encounters with radioactive spiders.
I AM able to track an object in a room as I hold my volunteer's hand and he/she does not speak a word. I am able to do a full Q and A session using nothing written down. I can draw significantly more information from a volunteer than what was written down. Using specific items and methods I can absolutely tell someone what word they chose out of a book...or what movie they are thinking of...or what hand they are holding a coin in etc. You reach a point here where you realize the line between 'guy performing mentalism' and 'someone who can actually do this stuff' gets blurry.
The revolutionary idea was: why not just tell the truth?
What if we were to redefine the word "mentalist": that a mentalist is someone who is able to get thoughts, images, emotions -- even memories and ideas -- out of the mind of a stranger using specific training, experience...methods and techniques. Nothing "psychic." Just the performer and what he knows.