Part Five Muscle Reading

There have been a lot of books written about Contact Mind Reading or Muscle Reading, some of them propound absurd theories as to the way in which it works and others seem to make sense. I do not propose to offer reasons or causes to explain why it works, I would rather content myself with thinking it is a form of suggestion and, more important, the so-called impulses which guide you are purely physical. As far as I am concerned, it is a variety of touch reading and I'm not going to do anything more than give you the technique of one method. The method I use and the method which I find works. If you wish to explore the whole field of Contact Mind Reading, you would be advised to consult a specialised work on the subject. Edward Dexter's "Contact Mind Reading" is a good starting place.

The easiest way to understand Muscle Reading is to try it, so start right away with a couple of experiments. Get a friend to help, an outsider is just as good, if not better. Tell him to hide a penny anywhere he likes in the room —but instruct him that it should be within reasonable reach and not hidden on his person. When he has done that, he should come and stand by the door and call out to you that he is ready. You wait outside and don't peep!!

When he calls out "ready" you come in. Some people now say you should look at his feet to see which way they are pointing to act as a starting guide. In my experience, the subject does his best to face anywhere but where the coin is hidden so I should forget it. When you arrive, take the subject by the left arm, put his hand with fingers outstretched on your hand. Support the weight of his arm with your other hand and tell him to relax, bend his arm at the elbow and let you carry the weight. Now position your right hand over his wrist and hold it fairly loose. Before you move an inch with him, start the mental propaganda! Tell him you must have his co-operation, that the success of the experiment depends entirely on his will power to make you go to the coin. Tell him that he must not attempt to lead you— just relax th? arm and forget about it—but keep saying to himself—"Its under the clock—we must go this way" etc., etc. Proceed to walk him slowly to the middle of the room and when you get there say, "Now forget for the moment the exact location—just concentrate on the direction from here—say to yourself, we must go towards the fireplace" etc. When you have done this, look carefully at his hand and very, very gently push it in one direction, if you feel him resist—try another direction, but if you feel no resistance, go that way. The whole art depends on your ability to tell when he is stopping you or letting you go on. It is not a conscious movement on his part—it is probably the result of autosuggestion—but what matters is that you do get this resistance or encouragement from the subject. When you become an expert, you will be able to tell the

path without the gentle push to test the direction—the encouragement will be enough to guide you, but to start with apply this technique.

Having got some idea of the first direction, you now work on the place. Move him towards the mantlepiece and when you get there say. "Now we must deal with an exact area, imagine we are drawing a line from your hand to the penny, will me to move along that line". Almost immediately you will find his hand moves slightly in the desired direction—but frequently it does not indicate the height at which the object is hidden. Suppose you arrive at a bookcase, you now say "We must deal with the height—say to yourself, we must go up or we must go down to find the penny—keep saying it". Sometimes it helps if you tell him to close his eyes when he is very near to the object. This confirms that you are on the right trail without asking "Am 1 hot?" When you finally feel convinced it is within a certain area—say a shelf, use your left hand to touch objects—but do not lift them until the right hand, holding his wrist, gives you a distinct tug. When you touch anything very near to the coin and he can see you do it, the movement on his part is very strong—then you lift the obstacle and there should be the penny underneath. His eyes should be open for the very last stages—he need only close them whilst he concentrates on telling you where to go.

It is almost certain that you will fail to get positive results if your subject treats the matter as a joke. He must do as you say—and should be serious. When you have worked with several people, you will find that there are good and bad subjects. Some seem so sensitive that you find the object at an incredible speed; others are not so good. The worst type is the person who deliberately misleads you—but you will soon learn to spot any fakers. The best subject is a person who believes that you can do it—like hypnosis, if they believe—half the battle is won. As for the sympathetic subject who thinks you are a crank and helps you with an occasional pull-in the right direction—well, they get you out of trouble—but don't do your ego or your personal progress any good, because you cannot learn to do it when you are being guided.

There is a particular feature of Contact Mind Reading that should appeal to the Mentalist. It amounts to this: when you have discovered the hiding place of the object, and you are quite sure it is there, you have no need to say so immediately. In fact, when the chance occurs, you would be wise to wait your time, continue the presentation so that the climax appears to be nothing short of an impossibility. The following example will serve to illustrate the procedure. %

We shall suppose that a penny was cencealed in a room, and that you have gone through the preliminary steps and arrived at the "very near" stage. We shall say that your attention becomes directed to one shelf, in moving the hand over the articles you may have noticed that one of them was not standing flat on the shelf. You may even be able to see the edge of the coin. Taking into consideration the places it could be hidden and the places which were improbable or impossible, you could arrive at a pretty firm decision. Instead of making the final move—and saying that you have found the penny, you go on. Without showing any signs of your discovery, slowly move away and lead the subject to another spot as though you had missed »t. Then, lead the subject to the centre of the room and announce that you

I I I I I I f are having great difficulty so you will try by another method. Let go of the arm and Tell the subject to stand with their eyes closed, and to concentrate on the exact spot where the coin is hidden. After due deliberation, and having apparently read their thoughts, you declare the exact spot and allow another person to go and collect the penny and show it to all.

If you would like to make a habit of this form of presentation, and it is indeed a very good method, you may resort to an old dodge which helps very often to see where the article is hidden. You use a threepenny bit instead of a penny, the first being substantially thicker causes a wider gap under the article when it is stood directly over the coin. Of course, this does not effect cases where the coin is dropped into something.

Advanced Forms of Contact Mind Reading

Since this work cannot hope to deal with a comprehensive studs of Muscle Reading, we shall give mention to some advanced forms of the Art and deal briefly with them.

The Copper Wire Contact

Some exponents of muscle reading are said to be capable of judging the impulses from the subject when the only contact between you and him is a length of copper wire. You each hold an end. I have not seen this done successfully, but 1 have it on good authority that it has been done and can be done. One specialist would make a point of going anywhere in town from the theatre—leading the subject to the place where a borrowed ring was hidden. Sometimes he walked, sometimes he sat with the subject in a cab (horse draw n) and would order the cabby to turn in the desired direction. It is claimed, and I believe it to be true, that his information was gained from the subject via contact mind reading with a copper wire. The distance involved was quite frequently more than a mile.

Action with the Chosen Object Following Location

Another advanced technique is to have an object chosen for the test and then to have the committee decide upon some specific action that must be done with that object. I can offer first hand information on this subject, having had the pleasure of watching a well known Mentalist perform the test. On quite a number of occasions. I have had him in my studio conducting various experiments and tests which 1 proposed. On one occasion, in the company of a group of well known magicians we decided to try him out. He was sent from the room and did not know what test was proposed and had no assistants. One person actcd as the subject. He went fairly quickly to a shelf by one wall; from that shelf he remov ed three dice which he carried tVT tf l4ar.w ¿te CAVIW ¿-.vite^'V.h? .r^tv, Mf,rv?„ .fluinb ¿teliiyvr ation he set them in a row with the numbers 4. 5 and 6 uppermost. This was the exact test that was proposed by a visitor who 1 can add did not help the Mentalist. The same person has allowed me to underline in my mind a word in a book: he has gone to a bookcase, removed the correct book from about ten or twelve in the case, found the right page and then the exact word on that page and then, for the first time actually underlined it in pencil!

The result of this advanced form of contact mind reading is often so good that even those "in the know" cannot believe that trickery was not used. However, if you remember that a subject is capablc of leading you to an object—and does so without any conscious encouragement, then it is not so difficult to understand that he can lead you on to do something with the object. As long as he knows what has to be done, he will indicate whether you are doing right or wrong. Finally, if you wish to test a mcntalist for contact mind reading to see if he is genuine or not. Have the object hidden on the subject it then becomes almost impossible to find by genuine reading.

Another good test is to act as the^ubject yourself. Deliberately hide the penny somewhere in the room—but w^ien he comes in—think of another place and in your mind, stick to that place. If he locates the real penny— he has seen it hidden or has an assistant in the audience. If he arrives at the place you are thinking of—and only you know that place, he is a genuine contact mind reader on that occasion.

When to L'se Contact Mind Reading

I have no doubt that what I am about to say will cause a lot of disagreement. However, my opinion is formed after some pretty careful thinking, performing and watching others perform; you arc not obliged to stand by my opinion. I do not think Muscle Reading is suitable today for stage work. 1 think it should be used for small gatherings, at home or in the office, for publicity stunts with three or four reporters or at a party. But when it comes down to using it as it WAS used—when conditions permitted that sort of entertainment, I think it is out. The last time I saw a Mentalist running along the aisle of a theatre, climbing over people in and out of rows of seats to find a pin stuck in somebody's lapel—I made a firm resolution that I would never do it or advise it. The same applies to any place where you have a large number of people seated in such a position that you cannot get at the hiding place without causing an alarming disturbance.

Contact mind reading is a wonderful thing, worth every second you give it in practice but learn not only how to do it—but also when to do it.

The Blindfold

Some performers like to work whilst they are blindfolded. It is questionable as to whether or not it improves the presentation—there are points for and points against. Nevertheless, if you choose to use one, be sure you can at least see down the nose—or better to have a fake blindfold and be able to see through it. I do quite a bit of contact mind reading and 1 do not use a blindfold and I do not think it makes much difference.


. In-case you don't know. Contact Mind Reading or Muscle Reading is sometimes called "Hellstromism" after Hellstrom—the professional Mentalist. In a book by the name of "Hellstromism" it is claimed that a contact mind reader was able to define the thoughts of a spectator while standing five feet away from him and without any contact whatsoever! Sounds like the touch reading envelope—it should be taken with a pinch of salt!! If anybody cares to make some money doing that on me—let me think of something, stand five feet away from me and tell me what I'm thinking— HI add fifty pounds to the one thousand pounds they can collect from the Occult Committee of the Magic Circle.

The Blackboard Test

This has been a very popular form of demonstrating muscle reading, today it is rarely seen performed.

The spectator writes a number on the blackboard for all to see, then rubs it out and you come in. You are blindfolded properly and have to duplicate their number by working on encouragement or resisting impulses from the subject. It is more advanced than straightforward work, but not very hard to do. The easy way out recommended by S. Edward Dexter in his book on the subject, is to have the digits one to nine written in a row on the board, then all you have to do is to run the chalk along the row and you will get a strong impulse on the first number chosen. You do it again for the next and so on until the four or five figure number is discovered.


1 refer once more to S. Edward Dexter's book on Contact Mind Reading where he makes a very strong point of the fact that you should not, under any circumstances reveal that you are using contact mind reading. Let the audience form their own conclusion—but keep the technique and Art a strict secret. I having nothing to add to that—other than to wholeheartedly agree.


Friendly Persuasion

Friendly Persuasion

To do this successfully you need to build a clear path of action by using tools if necessary. These tools would be facts, evidence and stories which you know they can relate to. Plus you always want to have their best interests at heart, in other words, you know what is good for them

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